Staffordshire University has been praised for a commitment to drive job creation and boost business in the area.
It is one of just 13 institutions to receive a commendation from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) for its approach to engaging with industry and supporting regional development.
Congratulating the university on its commendation, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership Chairman David Frost CBE said: “This is a great accolade for Staffordshire University and for the important work it is doing in a whole range of areas including innovation, industrial R&D, and improving higher-level skills to benefit the local economy and bring jobs and growth to our region.
“The university’s ground-breaking work in areas including ceramics, energy, the digital and creative sector, engagement with local businesses and workforce development is a credit to its staff and students. This is an impressive example of the impact that a forward-thinking institution with a can-do attitude can achieve.
“We are fortunate to have two such universities in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire and we will continue to work closely with them to create more and better jobs and a flourishing economy.”
Staffordshire University’s Knowledge Exchange Strategy addresses the significant productivity gap facing Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. Professor Ieuan Ellis, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Partnerships and Region, said: “As the Connected University we are committed to driving economic development in and for our region through creating an intellectual hub where education and industry can work collaboratively using our fantastic new digital facilities.”
Staffordshire University’s Knowledge Exchange Strategy outlines five key themes as a focus for targeted support:
- Growing the digital economy in the region: Following £12m investment, the university has developed a ‘Digital Kiln’ offering support for new and existing businesses to better exploit new digital technologies and services.
- Energy generation and distribution: Academics from Staffordshire University are working alongside Stoke-on-Trent City Council to support the development of the UK’s first city-scale Geothermal District Heat Network (DHN).
- Ceramics and creative industries: The university is exploring opportunities to support the regeneration of the former Spode ceramics factory site which is already home to a number of graduate artist start-ups.
- SME innovation and growth: The university will continue to support SMEs, particularly in the LEP’s priority sectors, through a range of mechanisms including student and graduate internships, collaborative and contract research and consultancy, access to innovation funding and the provision of business space.
- Regional workforce development: Staffordshire University is at the forefront of national apprenticeship development and is among the first UK institutions to offer legal and health apprenticeships.
Sara Williams, Chief Executive of the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, said: “Staffordshire University has a great relationship with businesses across the region, providing excellent graduates, relevant and applied research and engaging to deliver partnership events of the highest quality which appeal to businesses of all sizes and sectors. Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce and all members of the business community know that this university is deeply rooted in the culture, values and ethos of the place and is committed to work together to drive the economy forward. This award is a fantastic accolade for a university with business at its heart.”