Ruth Mitchell

Member Article

University links key to economic growth

Building links between universities, local businesses and Local Enterprise Partnerships could be the key to growing the economy, according the a new report.

Over the last nine years, IPPR North has witnessed an 11-fold increase in the numbers of student start ups.

The think-tank now believes that further engagement with business could help universities to diversify their income streams, whilst also contributing to economic growth, and has called on Local Enterprise Partnerships to act as facilitators for collaboration.

Ed Cox, Director of IPPR North said: “Producing highly trained graduates is a key part of what universities do to help their local economies grow, but it is only one element of their contribution.

“By supporting businesses to innovate, creating new business start ups, helping businesses with research, supporting employers to train their workforce and attracting investment to an area, universities can have a major impact on their local economy.”

University start ups and spin outs represent a small proportion of SMEs, but have the potential to be a lucrative offer to the wider economy.

The report recommends that universities should now focus on continually improving business engagement, and look for ways to market themselves more effectively to firms which have never previously considered university collaboration.

Universities should also conduct their own research, evaluation the impact of student enterprise support schemes to identify the best use of funding in this area.

The Local Enterprise Partnerships also have an important role to play, and should encourage collaboration between universities, to address the part they can play in the economic development of their area. It could also provide a forum within which business and university collaboration can flourish.

Mr Cox continued: “The new Local Enterprise Partnerships have been tasked with growing the economy, and all of them have universities on their boards.

“They should work with businesses and universities in their area to facilitate collaborations that will grow the economy and create jobs.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ruth Mitchell .

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