A special day celebrating a special place

Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director

Today, on 1 August, we celebrate Yorkshire Day.

Yorkshire has one of the richest histories of any region in England. The name ‘Yorkshire’ derives from the word ‘Eborakon’, an old Brythonic name, which means ‘the place of the yew-trees’. During the Roman period, York was the capital of the province of Britannia Inferior.

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‘Starting and scaling up business…in a period of recovery’

Monika Antal, YU Executive Manager

Last week, a request landed on our ‘virtual desk’, originating from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and linked to a series of economic recovery roundtables that are expected to inform the emergency budget announcement scheduled for the second week in July.

Given the challenging turnaround time, YU, together with our colleagues from the N8 Research Partnership, agreed to pool our respective ideas and produce a joint response. The topics where BEIS were seeking inputs, included: innovation, investment, net zero (carbon), levelling-up and (business) start-ups and scaleups. I was asked to contribute to the the start-up and scaleup theme, and was set the following exam questions:

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Innovation Deals

Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director

Tom Forth and Richard Jones’ recent report, ‘The Missing £4 Billion’, published by the innovation specialists, Nesta, presents in-depth analysis and a series of thought-provoking, yet practical, proposals on how to rebalance the current uneven geography of research and development (R&D) spending within the UK. The report is timely and has gained much attention, not least for the case the authors make for government to devolve 25 per cent of the planned uplift in R&D funding to nations, cities and regions. A stark statistic contained in the report is that large parts of the UK, including Yorkshire, are missing out on £4 billion a year in public R&D funding.  Add to that private investment, and the same regions are unable to access a further £8 billion per annum. Not insignificant sums when you consider the total investment that is needed to ‘level up’ the nations and regions.

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COVID-19 and beyond: understanding student expectations

Professor Roger Lewis, YU Associate

At this time of year prospective students gear up for university. Amidst the uncertainty, 2020 might be no exception despite some of the current thinking. What, in the current climate are students expecting in September? Anecdotal evidence suggests that ‘the student experience’ (i.e. ‘being at uni’) is the first thought of many. It’s always been a moot point as to how far their provider’s responsibility extends into that wider area so let’s focus on specifically educational provision. Last week’s 2020 HEPI/Advance HE Student Academic Experience Survey offers some initial insights at a time of the lockdown period.

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Learning lessons from the Urban Living Partnership programme

Monika Antal, Executive Manager

In February, which seems a like a lifetime ago now, and when it was still permissible to gather in large groups, YU invited academics from Newcastle University to Leeds in order to meet university counterparts in Yorkshire, as well as local authority and health officials, in order to present findings from a newly-published report on some of the lessons learned from the Urban Living Partnership (ULP) pilots.

Find out more about why ULPs are important in these brief interviews by two of the report authors: Louise Kempton and David Marlow.

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The Coronavirus Pandemic: Universities and the Economic Recovery of Place

Dr Peter O’Brien, YU Executive Director

Introduction

The government has pledged to ‘level up’ the country. It has also specifically committed to produce a ‘place strategy’. Work was underway on both fronts, but this has understandably slowed as the government has focused all its efforts on addressing the Coronavirus pandemic.

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When a local economy collapses, we can’t just rely on the grit of communities

James Ransom, YU Associate

I’m a little late in reading Janesville: An American Story, Amy Goldstein’s tale of an industrial Wisconsin town in the depths of the Great Recession. The book received wide praise when published in 2017, telling the story of a community trying to pick itself up in the years following the closure of a major General Motors assembly plant. But the story has particular resonance now, as we stand on the cusp of another wave of economic upheaval. Here are three reflections.

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Over to online learning

Professor Roger Lewis, YU Associate

One of the most surprising outcomes of the past few difficult months has been the seeming ease with which universities have changed their teaching from largely face-to-face to entirely online. This has been announced on websites promptly and factually – as if the transition is unproblematic.

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HM Treasury Green Book Review

Dr Peter O’Brien, YU Executive Director

Amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic and economic crises a review that will be critical to the recovery within and across the country appears to have started within Whitehall.  The Budget statement on 11 March announced a review by HM Treasury of its Green Book; the ‘rule book’ used by central government departments to determine whether public funds should be invested or not in projects to drive economic development. 

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Revisiting resilience

James Ransom, YU Associate

Unsurprisingly, a huge amount is being written about the coronavirus crisis. Publications are shifting their entire focus onto the pandemic (‘there is only one story in the world right now’, says WIRED magazine). There has been an explosion of academic publications on the virus, with peer review processes struggling to keep up.

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