The value of place-based university collaborations

Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director

Yorkshire Universities is something of a unique construct. Formed in 1987, this place-based university collaborative venture has endured despite the periodic upheaval in sub-national economic development governance and planning in England.

At the recent Northern Powerhouse Business Summit, part of the Great Exhibition of the North, the Northern Powerhouse Minister, Jake Berry, launched a new pan-regional governance entity – NP11 – a grouping of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in the north of England, which will be headed initially by the Chair of the Leeds City Region LEP.

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Industrial Policy…Is it coming home?

Monika Antal, Executive Manager

For those not fully-aware of the timeliness of the industrial policy and strategy debate, we are on the brink of the fourth industrial revolution which will result in some of the most fundamental changes to economy and society. Why is this important? Because it will alter how we live, work, and how we relate to each other. Some of us still remember life without the internet and smart phones, right? That is the scale of transformation taking place, but with much more complex and long-term implications.

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Smart(er) Cities

Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director

Last week’s publication of a new report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Smart Cities illustrates perfectly the importance of defining smart technology in urban metropolitan settings as a multi and inter-disciplinary venture requiring co-investment and co-ordination between science, technology, governance and civic engagement. Here, universities are uniquely-equipped to make major contributions within and across these areas.

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The Value of Degree Apprenticeships

Monika Antal, Executive Manager

Degree apprenticeships are an innovative means of widening access to learning, achieving higher-level and more work-relevant skills, and are therefore a crucial element in the drive to increase productivity. Degree apprenticeships also boost social mobility and underpin efforts to promote inclusion by enabling students to ‘earn while they learn’. They offer higher life-time earnings than most degrees, and can help narrow the employment gap between more affluent and less-advantaged graduates. They generate positive spill-overs for other degree courses and they are a vital mechanism for boosting parity of esteem between vocational and academic study. In summary, they are an excellent idea, and they are emerging at just the right time.

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The Ten Commandments for Local Industrial Strategies…

Monika Antal, Executive Manager

In the past few months the Works Centre for Local Economic Growth (WWG) has worked with a group of local and combined authorities, LEPs and central government to understand the challenges all parties face in designing a Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) that is evidence-based and builds upon the existing Strategic Economic Plans that areas have in place. From this, they have pulled together a set of ideas about how both local and central government might address some of those challenges. These 10 ideas are presented in the ‘Developing effective local industrial strategies’ guide, which was launched in London on 25 June, and I was there to hear what the experts had to say about it. Here are some of the key messages I picked up. 

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HEPI, LEO and VFM

Monika Antal, Executive Manager

Last week I attended the Hepi Annual Conference in London. Sam Gyimah MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, opened the event with a keynote speech that focused on value for money, innovation and transparency.

The minister began by calling on universities to “focus relentlessly on value for money”. By value for money, the assumption was that value for money should be measured, in part, by graduate earnings, which just happened to be the subject of a new report published the same day by the Institute for Fiscal Studies/Department for Education looking at relative labour market returns to undergraduate degrees, and which draws heavily upon Longitudinal Educational Outcomes (LEO) data.

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Building Stronger Places

Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director

Yesterday, I was in Leeds to hear Research England (RE) and Innovate UK (IUK) spell out the approach of their parent body – UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) – to place and to find out more about the new Strength in Places Fund (SPIF). For those unfamiliar with the alphabet soup of acronyms and institutional arrangements in the UK higher education sector, RE and IUK are ‘constituent members’ of the UKRI family of councils.

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Developing a local industrial strategy for The Humber

by Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director

On Thursday, I had the pleasure of being in Hull to attend two events organised by The Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) that were designed to illustrate the work of the LEP and its partners over the past year, and to also showcase a blueprint for a new local industrial strategy that the LEP is putting out to public consultation. Both meetings were part of the annual ‘Business Week’ programme.

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Yorkshire Universities appoints new Executive Director

Dr Peter O’Brien has been named as the new Executive Director of YU, the membership association representing all 12 higher education institutions in Yorkshire.

A local and regional development specialist, Dr O’Brien joined YU as an associate in 2017 and has made a significant contribution to the economic development and place-based leadership work of YU ever since.

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