When I became Deputy Vice-Chancellor, one of my driving ambitions was that Teesside University would achieve regional, national and international recognition as the UK’s leading university for its work with business. I am pleased to report that we are definitely taking huge strides toward that objective.
The University plays a strategic role in the economy of the North East region and beyond, and in recent years we have led the way with a flexible and distinct approach to working with business.
We will never stop being committed to the economy of the Tees Valley and we will never stop working with business.
One of the great strengths of our University is that we have been able to respond rapidly to change. As the needs of businesses, public, private and third sector move on, we have moved on. We have pro-actively aligned our strengths in engineering, science, digital, design and business to the economic needs of our business community and UK PLC and have also sought to address the health and welfare needs of society through our excellent work in health, social sciences and our cultural offering.
Teesside University works with all sectors. We talk the same language as business and form partnerships to help individuals and organisations achieve their maximum potential through high quality learning, teaching, research and innovation.
DigitalCity, which began in the University, brought together the strengths of the private sector, the public sector and the University to create what is now a record number of high-growth businesses and jobs and, in doing so, has become an exemplar of the power of partnerships.
The University has a wide range of business support services available – everything from research, bespoke consultancy and ‘outstanding’ rated Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, to our own unique flexible project the Knowledge Exchange Internship. Over the past three years we have also worked to deliver training provision to over 8,000 employees through workforce development programmes tailored directly to the needs of individual employers to improve business performance.
One of the great strengths of our University is that we have been able to respond rapidly to change. As the needs of businesses, public, private and third sector move on, we have moved on.
To make this happen, we have had to acquire the qualities we would all recognise in a successful business – customer focused, responsive and with a commitment to deliver quality on time and at an agreed price. This has necessitated the development of a sophisticated infrastructure together with an institution wide commitment to a change in culture toward being a business facing institution.
Recently, we joined forces with Newcastle Science City and the Centre for Process Innovation to lead the Enterprise Europe Network North East, bringing a new dimension to business support. The network will help regional companies develop new links and markets across Europe.
As the University for Business, we value our contribution to the regional economy and being engaged with business is absolutely at the heart of everything we do. We will never stop being committed to the economy of the Tees Valley and we will never stop working with business. I will continue to encourage people to have ideas and encourage people to be responsive and flexible, so that we can provide the best opportunities we possibly can.
The awards that Teesside University has won in recent years – University of the Year, Outstanding Employer Engagement Initiative, UK Business Incubation Champion, Hotspur Award for Bold Endeavour and others, are all a result of our relentless delivery of excellence. But, while we have gained positive recognition both nationally and internationally for the work we do with business and this is very gratifying, what matters most to me and my colleagues is the confirmation from our clients of a job well done. When this happens, as it often does, it spurs us all on to greater efforts.
We are a ‘can do’ university. When the Strategic Health Authority approached us about the high percentage of young people who needed dental treatment at the age of ten and the need to improve the quality of dental care, we said ‘we can help you – if you have a need we will meet it’, so we went into partnership with the Strategic Health Authority – constructed a new building, employed and trained the expertise to meet the regional need and we now have a fully functioning dental clinic.
This is the kind of responsiveness we will continue to maintain for the social and economic well-being of the region.