Keele and Staffordshire universities have announced a strategic new partnership as part of their role within the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to boost the local economy.
The two universities have developed and signed an agreement to co-ordinate how they will work to power economic growth across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, following the launch of the Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire Innovation Council.
The two universities have worked with the LEP over the last 12 months to develop a strategic, independent innovation council, focused on visioning and realising innovation-driven, sustainable economic growth locally via exploitation of the existing innovation assets and future potential of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. This council will meet for the first time later in 2015, with a majority of the councilâ€™s membership drawn from the private sector.
Professor Trevor McMillan, Keele University Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost, said: â€œKeele is a university committed to playing an increasing role as a local economic anchor institution, harnessing our academic expertise, distinctive graduates, Science Park and our global brand to deliver tangible economic impact and a measurable contribution to the wider health and wellbeing of local people.Â Partnership is key to this, including our partnerships with the NHS, local business, third sector organisations and our local university partners.”
Professor Allan Howells, Deputy Vice Chancellor at Staffordshire University, said: â€œWe have a proud record of developing enterprise and entrepreneurship among our students and feel that this new partnership with Keele will enable us to collaborate more effectively, and build on our respective strengths to the benefit of the regional economy. Employability of our graduates is top on our agenda and a more buoyant economy will support the retention of home-grown talent.â€
The agreement, or â€˜concordatâ€™ signed by both universities and the Local Enterprise Partnership, outlines a programme of collaboration around student, social and graduate enterprise, provision of incubation and grow on space for new companies, and support for assisting the LEP in developing investment proposals for new European funds to support economic growth via research and development.Â The concordat also maps each of the universities areas of unique expertise and how this relates to the priority business sectors identified in the Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire LEP Strategic Economic Plan.Â This recognises the world leading expertise of both universities in areas including sustainability, medical technologies and the digital and creative industries.
Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership board member Jonathan Dale said: â€œThis partnership is a great step forward in taking innovation and enterprise to a whole new level in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. Having two universities with world-class expertise and facilities working together will provide a real opportunity to drive research and development and boost growth, and to position our area at the forefront of innovation for the thriving economy of the future.â€
The new university partnership and Innovation Council is an example of that encouraged by universities in a recent review by Sir Ian Diamond on the efficiency, effectiveness and value for money of universities in the UK and enables the LEP, universities and business to work with government to map strengths â€“ something proposed by the Chancellor Exchequer in his Productivity plan to increase UK productivity growth across the next decade, following the July 2015 budget.
The picture shows Professor Trevor McMillan, left, Jonathan Dale (LEP) andÂ Professor Allan Howells (DVC-Staffs), right.