This year, in addition to the YU Annual Report and Accounts 2018-19 we also prepared a Summary document that provides an overview of our the activities and gives insight into the new, YU 2019-2022 Strategy that we’re currently working on in more detail.
The higher education sector welcomed the announcement last month from Research England ‘Minister announces new direction for knowledge exchange funding’ that the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) will rise to £250 million by 2020-21 (an uplift of over 50% since 2016). Funding for the Yorkshire region moved from £20.1 million in 2018-19 to £20.4 million in 2019-20 and we can thus expect a further increase for 2020-21.
HEIF’s purpose is to develop university-business interaction. What is covered by ‘HEIF’ has always been a source of debate. The ‘I’ in the acronym stands for ‘Innovation’, used here in its business sense, with a strong implied link to technology and the application of ‘research’ to improve productivity. The new emphasis though is on ‘knowledge exchange’ (KE) – like ‘innovation’ another portmanteau term.
Last week, I was in Montréal speaking at an international conference on the subject of regional innovation. The event coincided with half a million people – many of them aged under 16, including the activist, Greta Thunberg – taking to the streets of the city to call for action to address the climate emergency.
Whilst in Canada, I heard of some ground-breaking studies and policies on local and regional research and innovation processes. Coupled with how science and expertise is shaping public opinion on a theme as substantive as climate change, my visit to Québec re-emphasised to me the importance we should attach to universities building and sustaining effective relationships with local communities and the wider public, as well as business and governments.
Guest contribution from Michael Wood, NHS Confederation
The government published its Industrial Strategy in November 2017, setting out a long-term plan to create an economy that boosts productivity and earning power throughout the UK. Critically, every local economic area in England, along with the devolved administrations, is now developing its own local industrial strategy. This briefing reflects on the emerging importance of health to many of the early draft local industrial strategies, explores the opportunities for the NHS that exist at both system and organisational level and outlines how to engage with and influence the development of these strategies in the coming year.
Guest blog by Tim Fanning and David Marlow
If the Civic University Commission (CUC) Final Report is to genuinely change the type of impacts universities have on the places where they are located, universities will need to be prepared to deliver impact studies and analyses in new, more explicitly civic and bespoke ways..
The role of the university economic and social impact study
Economic and social impact assessments have become an important part of the evidence base for universities. This reflects the increasing economic importance of universities to their local areas in many locations over time, as well as growing expectations on the sector to harness and demonstrate its wider socio-economic value.
Last month Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England, gave a speech at the University of Sheffield asking if all economics, like politics, is ultimately local. The speech attracted attention for its discussion of whether we can capture and model detailed data on the economy at a far more local level. But there are two other points in the speech worth exploring further.
The first is recognition that higher education, alongside financial services and the creative industries, are sectors that ‘exhibit the highest economic complexity and thus potentially generate the highest value-added’. Economic complexity means the amount of embedded knowledge.
Yesterday I attended the annual conference of the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), in Leeds, entitled, ‘Transforming Lives Through Innovation’. The previous day I was at the White Rose Consortium’s Industrial Strategy ‘Working in Partnership’ final conference, which showcased the contribution of the social sciences to meeting industrial strategy opportunities and challenges. The timing of the two conferences came a matter of hours after the first of four speeches by the Universities Minister, Chris Skidmore, setting out how the Government intends to achieve its ‘2.4% R&D/innovation investment’ target by 2027.
Last week saw the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee hold its final evidence session, as part of the Committee’s inquiry into the ‘balance and effectiveness of R&D expenditure’. In evidence to the Committee, Yorkshire Universities highlighted ten issues that might help government and its agencies create and sustain a more spatially-balanced approach to R&D and innovation activity and investment.
Universities Minister, Chris Skidmore, has asked DfE and BEIS civil servants to work with the UPP Foundation to take forward the proposals published by the Civic University Commission (CUC) in its recent report. Over 40 universities have, to date, signed up to work towards Civic University Agreements, which form a key recommendation in the CUC report.