24 October 2022 Media releases
24 October 2022 Media releases
Last updated on Tuesday 20 Dec 2022 at 10:24pm
The UK is facing crisis. An ever-increasing cost of living, a fall in value of the pound, and rising interest rates have made life harder for ordinary people across the UK.
Addressing these immediate issues will be a challenge. But we must not lose sight of plans for a sustainable, long term strategy to kickstart growth and opportunity across the UK.
Universities UK’s new report, Our universities: generating growth and opportunity, makes the case for increased collaboration between the government, businesses, and the higher education sector, especially at a local level.
Universities already contribute immensely to their local areas. They are often the largest employers in their local areas and draw in research and development investment into their communities from across the UK and abroad. They also attract students and produce graduates who provide businesses with the skills and talent they need.
Over the next five years, UK universities will help form 21,500 new businesses and provide over £11.6 billion of support and services to small enterprises, businesses and not-for-profits.
Universities are also key to building successful business ecosystems. It’s currently estimated that over the next five years, UK universities will help form 21,500 new businesses and provide over £11.6 billion of support and services to small enterprises, businesses and not-for-profits. This includes specialist advice, training, access to the latest facilities and equipment to develop innovative products and conducting bespoke research projects.
Our report suggests several ways that universities could have an even bigger impact on growth.
And universities don’t just support local businesses – they actively create them. Graduate start-ups and university spin-outs generate nearly £5 billion in turnover every year across the UK. Businesses with these links to universities are more likely to survive than other comparable businesses.
The University Enterprise Zone (UEZ) programme is an excellent example of how universities, business and local government can work together to build growth an opportunity in their local areas. UEZs are specific geographical areas where universities and business work together to increase local growth and innovation. An evaluation of the programme found that for every £1 the government invests in University UEZs, UEZs generated an additional £4.50 in funding.
For every £1 the government invests in University UEZs, UEZs generated an additional £4.50 in funding.
One example of success is at the University of Essex. The university’s UEZ has held 50 webinars attended by close to 1,000 businesspeople and delivered 444 one-to-one mentoring meetings with 168 entrepreneurs. The UEZ’s Angels@Essex investment platform has secured £3.49m for companies on its platform and £4.22m in pledged investment.
It’s important that local and national policymakers can also take advantage of what universities have to offer. Universities have already helped local leaders to level up their communities by supporting local councils’ bids for the Levelling Up Fund, Community Renewal Fund, and Town Deals.
This support has ranged from helping to write bids for funding to providing economic data and evaluation support.
In the words of the Mayor of Mansfield District Council:
Our partnership with Nottingham Trent University is hugely valued. By working together, we are able to better exploit the opportunities for the benefit of the area, helping us deliver our wider ambitions for Mansfield. Nottingham Trent University is playing a key role in investing the area through its higher education provision, support for businesses and through community collaboration with students and staff.
Executive Mayor, Mansfield District Council
Our full report showcases even more examples of universities, local government and businesses working together, from healthcare and local cultural initiatives to lifelong learning and kickstarting innovative research.
As much as universities already do to support their local areas, they cannot do it all alone.
To kickstart growth and opportunity across the UK, we’re calling on the government to help us to: