The last twelve months have seen COVID-19 impact in ways we could never have imagined. No one can fail to be shocked by the stories of how the virus has devastated lives, communities, businesses and places, but perhaps at the same time we are also inspired and thankful for the efforts of those on the front-line who have kept essential services functioning.
Universities and their students are essential to the economic, social and cultural life of Yorkshire. Last year, over 196,000 students attended universities in the region, and they contributed enormously towards the places in which they lived and studied. At the start of this academic year, new students are being welcomed to universities and our region, alongside many others who are returning to campus.
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:
The COVID-19 crisis presents an opportunity to accelerate efforts to tackle the climate emergency that should be capitalised on, representatives from Yorkshire’s universities agreed at the 5 May virtual roundtable convened by Yorkshire Universities and Arup. Several key themes emerged:
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.
As we head towards week three of ‘lock-down’, my thoughts are foremost with those people suffering from COVID-19 and on the front line in the fight against the disease. Whatever our challenges have been in adjusting to the new norm of homeworking, nothing compares to the immediate personal risks facing many in the UK and across the world.
Today is my eldest daughter’s 14th Birthday; one that she will spend, like millions of children, being home-schooled, but also apart from her grandparents, whom we are socially-distancing ourselves from in line with medical advice. I can’t recall a time like this in her young life or even my own – which is considerably longer – where the world has faced such an acute crisis as that caused by the COVID-19 virus.