Coventry’s two universities are to showcase the city at a major international development event for the first time ever.
The University of Warwick and Coventry University have both joined the Coventry MIPIM Partnership which will highlight the city to an international audience of more than 30,000 developers and investors.
Coventry is attending the MIPIM show in France in March for the 20th year in succession but this will be the first time the two universities have attended.
Coventry University will be using the show to strengthen links with other European cities.
The university, in partnership with Coventry City Council, was awarded ‘Living Labs’ status by the Brussels-based European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL) in 2011.
The membership of ENoLL will see the university’s Technology Park become a real-life test and experimentation environment for low carbon innovations, strengthening the city’s and the university’s existing green agenda.
The Living Labs branding can also help attract investment, potentially creating new jobs as companies seek to trial their eco-friendly concepts and products in a new and purpose-built environment, and then export those ideas to the international community via ENoLL.
John Latham, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Business Development at Coventry University, said MIPIM was an opportunity to establish relationships with other Living Lab cities across Europe.
“Coventry has an ambition to become a genuine low carbon city by 2020, and there is, of course, massive commercial opportunities in that,” he said.
“Living Labs status significantly strengthens our applied research activities, with its programmes on the advancement of low carbon vehicles and low impact buildings benefitting the most.
“MIPIM will allow us to meet many of the European cities who are also part of the Living Labs initiative, share good practice and to see if there are any commercial opportunities we can exploit.
“As part of its strategy to 2020, the University has identified a number of Grand Challenge areas in which it is undertaking major research projects with external partners to find answers to questions relating to key issues which affect society and again they are areas we may wish to share with European parnters.
“There are also two sites on the Technology Park which we would like to develop in the medium-term, and that will also be in our thinking.
“We came to MIPIM several years ago when we were looking to develop three sites. The last of those – our engineering and computing building – has just been completed and is now in full use.”
The University of Warwick is in the process of implementing an ambitious strategy aimed at making it a universally acknowledged world centre of higher education.
Underpinning that strategy is an agreed Masterplan for the development of the University campus, which should see the overall campus footprint increase by 40% between 2009 and 2019.
A prime example of the University of Warwick’s ambition and plans for continued growth is the recently announced National Automotive Innovation Campus at the University.
The Government, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC) will invest £92 million and, working closely with WMG (Warwick Manufacturing Group) at the University, will create and develop novel technologies to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and to reduce CO2 emissions.
It will also develop a stronger supplier base in the UK and address a shortage of skilled R&D staff in the automotive supply chain.
It will be based in two new groups of buildings at the University which are programmed for completion in 2015.
Bob Wilson, the University’s Director of Estates, said: “Coventry has a very strong presence at MIPIM and we want to help showcase the city to a wider audience.
“Universities are key to the profile of their home cities and we have a very good international reputation which we are happy to use to help Coventry.
“We are constantly developing our campus, and it will be very useful for us to see what developers and construction companies are doing across Europe.”
Coventry has pioneered a partnership approach to MIPIM which sees private sector developers and other related businesses come together under the banner of the MIPIM Coventry Partnership.
Councillor Lynnette Kelly, Cabinet member City Development, said: “We are delighted that both universities are part of the MIPIM Partnership.
“They are significant economic entities in their own right but are also key to the commercial success of our region in terms of skills, research and development.
“We work extremely closely with them on many levels and this further cements that relationship.”