Plans to support more than 1,000 innovative businesses as part of a £70million research-led regional collaboration have been showcased to a Government minister.
Seven hundred jobs are being created as a result of the New Keele Deal – which is seeing Keele University work with Staffordshire County Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust to stimulate growth of the knowledge-based economy in the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire region.
The Government’s Small Business Minister, Andrew Griffiths MP, met with representatives of the Local Enterprise Partnership and organisations involved in the Deal on Thursday. He also visited small businesses operating from facilities at the Keele University Science and Innovation Park.
The New Keele Deal is enabling businesses to access Keele University’s world-class research and facilities, providing training in innovation leadership and facilitate supply chain development across a range of sectors. It is also supporting businesses in becoming more competitive, producing better products and improving customer services. Through a range of innovative business support programmes, the deal is enabling the university to extend its impact on the local economy by contributing an extra £210m into the local area.
A Smart Innovation Hub is now being built at Keele’s Science and Innovation Park as part of the Deal. This will sit alongside the new Management School and provide accommodation to support the creation and growth of innovation-led businesses, alongside new facilities to enable the university to grow its established programme of collaborative research, development and innovation support to local firms.
Targets over the next two decades include supporting more than 600 small and medium sized businesses to innovate, 250 businesses to save energy or create green energy products and 140 medical technology and healthcare businesses to collaborate with academics and the NHS.
Small Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said: “I have been delighted to see the difference being made by the New Keele Deal, adding hundreds of extra jobs and helping the county lead the way in the industries of the future.
“Through our modern Industrial Strategy we are committed to boosting jobs, growth and earning power right across the country and the Stoke and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership is playing a vital role in driving this forward and is on track to create an extra 74,000 jobs in the area over the next three years.”
Professor Trevor McMillan, Vice Chancellor of Keele University, said: “The past few years have been significant for Keele University and its support of the business community in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.
“The Keele Deal is delivering a unique programme of business support, development and growth within the local area. The collaboration is supporting businesses to access the University’s world-class research and facilities, providing training in innovation leadership and facilitating supply chain development across a range of sectors.
“Collectively, the New Keele Deal will assist businesses to become more competitive, produce better products and improve their overall services to their customers. It was fantastic to be able to showcase its benefits to the Minister.”
Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership chairman David Frost CBE said: “Stimulating investment and innovation is crucial for the future prosperity of our economy. Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire has a strong track record of excellence in innovation and now the New Keele Deal is playing a major role in building on our region’s recognised strengths in key areas of new technologies and advanced manufacturing.
“This emphasis on innovation and competitiveness will help us build our reputation around the globe, bringing more highly skilled and better paid jobs to our area and ensuring a thriving future.”
Staffordshire County Council leader Philip Atkins said: “This Deal is demonstration how we are working closely together in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent to fully utilise the knowledge and expertise we have to improve productivity, innovation and employment opportunities for our residents.
“This approach means we can play an integral part in developing the UK’s emerging Industrial Strategy. Improved innovation in business leads to greater productivity which is essential for economy and for a stable future for business.
“Not only will the Keele Deal bring growth and create high quality jobs, it will also improve healthcare both locally, regionally and nationally through greater research and development of new treatments. As a county council we have invested £2million in the new Smart Innovation Centre at Keele University Science and Innovation Park to support businesses to grow in addition to our previous £7million investment in Innovation Centre 5 at the site.”
Newcastle Borough Council leader Simon Tagg said: “The borough council promotes growth, especially in jobs and skills, and is therefore proud to continue supporting this investment as part of the Keele Deal innovation.
“One of our aims is to help borough businesses to grow and develop. Through research and development, significant new opportunities will be created, making sure that the borough, its businesses and residents continue to thrive.”
Photo caption: (left to right) Staffordshire County Council deputy leader Alan White, LEP partnerships manager Peter Davenport, LEP chairman David Frost, Andrew Griffiths MP, LEP board member Wendy Dean and Professor Trevor McMillan, Vice Chancellor of Keele University.