26 October 2022 Opinion
26 October 2022 Opinion
Last updated on Tuesday 18 Apr 2023 at 12:58pm
UK government must press ahead with plans to invest £20 billion every year in Research and Development by 2024 – 2025.
Establish University Enterprise Zones (UEZs) in every university.
Bring together local communities by creating more enterprise and opportunity hubs.
Make us world leaders for university-employer partnerships.
Place universities at the heart of policy making in every part of the UK.
Universities across the UK are today insisting they can play a bigger role in generating economic growth and are calling on the new Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and his government, to create the conditions to accomplish this in a new report.
The ‘Our universities: generating growth and opportunity’ report, published today by Universities UK, explores ways in which universities can contribute to economic growth, and makes several recommendations such as establishing collaborative hubs for skills development, building on the Help to Grow scheme, and the rapid expansion of University Enterprise Zones (UEZ).
The success of UEZ projects in Nottingham, Liverpool, Hertfordshire, Bradford and Bristol highlights how universities can help to foster positive and impactful partnerships between themselves, local communities and employers. Through building collaborative hubs for skills development, universities can reach out to left behind areas and create opportunities for local people. UEZs and universities can play a key role in supporting the success of Investment Zones, one of the new proposals recently put forward by the government to help encourage growth.
Investment in research is crucial to developing the innovative products and services that create new businesses and good jobs, in turn leading to economic growth.
It is 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.
A priority for the UK government is to stimulate economic growth. The recommendations made in the new report offer a range of ideas for achieving this goal and highlight how well-placed and crucial universities are to supporting growth.
Professor Steve West CBE, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of UWE Bristol, said:
Given the gloomy economic outlook and the difficult global situation, we need ambitious and bold action to fire up growth. It is more important than ever that universities can support businesses and charities through their research, innovation, and enterprise, to create a healthier, wealthier, and fairer Britain.”
“Research shows that investment in the higher education sector creates more jobs per pound than equivalent investment in construction, the manufacture of computers and electronics or the public administration sector.”
Professor Steve West
CBE, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of UWE Bristol
Skilled Education leads the online aspect of the government’s Help to Grow scheme.
Rajay Naik, the chief executive of Skilled Education, said:
The Government’s decision to engage over 50 UK universities to deliver the face-to-face learning for Help to Grow underscores the central role of British universities in upskilling the nation. We have an immense skills gap and higher education working in partnership with government and the private sector is a central part of how we must address it.”
Chief executive of Skilled Education
4 in 5 universities in England already provide an enquiry point for local SMEs with many already offering some free advice. A company is started, on average, every two hours at UK universities
UUK supports the introduction of a post-18 education loan scheme – the lifelong loan entitlement – to help people study, train or retrain at any point during their lives via flexible courses and believes greater university-business collaboration would support the success of this.
The University of Nottingham, Bradford University and UWE Bristol are great examples of UEZ projects, creating a space for start-ups as well as supporting collaborative research projects.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) at Nottingham Trent University recently announced plans to expand the scope of eligibility for its Help to Grow: Management course. The new criteria will now allow a second participant from the same business to attend the course if their business has 10 or more employees. The university has also expanded the scope of participation for SMEs who previously took part in the Small Business Leadership Programme (SBLP). SMEs with 10+ employees that took part on SBLP will be able to nominate two people for the Help to Grow: Management course.
For every £1 the government invests in University Enterprise Zones (UEZs), UEZs generate an additional £4.50 in funding.
Start ups and spin outs with links to universities are more likely to survive than the average start-up.
University affiliated accelerators and incubators are associated with faster sales and jobs growth.
The most innovative companies recruit a greater number of graduates.
Investment in the higher education sector creates more jobs per pound than equivalent investment in construction, the manufacture of computers and electronics, public administration and defence or health sector.