New YU Report: Universities and ‘Place Promotion’ in West Yorkshire

Report written by James Ransom, YU Associate

This discussion paper provides an overview of some of the key issues shaping the contribution of universities and higher education institutions (HEIs) to the promotion of place, and to attracting inward investment and increased trade into Yorkshire and the Humber, and in particular West Yorkshire.

It should be read against the background of the government’s commitment to increase total research and innovation (R&I) investment to 2.4 percent of national GDP, in particular as foreign-owned businesses in the UK spend more on this activity than domestically-owned businesses.

In addition, it also provides a contribution to discussions that have taken place at various times in the region as to how universities and HEIs help to attract and embed business investment and trade within and across city/sub-regions, regions and the Northern Powerhouse. The report also seeks to inform the emergent 2021-2025 Leeds City Region Trade Strategy.

This work is intended to stimulate debate and to provide a basis for potential actions going forwards. Overall, the region’s universities are well-positioned to strengthen their strategic relationships with Combined Authorities, metro mayors, local government, LEPs, business and others, and to collectively showcase nationally and internationally the unique strengths of higher education (HE) in the region as an asset to attract investment and jobs. In particular, some practical and immediate actions could include providing a feed of relevant university-focused news reports for local inward investment web portals, promoting the local higher-level skills base, and utilising international students and alumni more strategically.

Download the full report. (Opens in new tab).

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Collaboration is key: insight into civic partnerships in Leeds

A new report, ‘Unlocking the potential of civic collaboration’, offers fresh insight into collaborative working between the University of Leeds and Leeds City Council. Professor Adam Crawford and Professor Adrian Favell, of Leeds Social Sciences Institute, discuss why collaboration is becoming more important and its role in the West Yorkshire Devolution Deal.

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‘Place, the economy and COVID-19’

Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director

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.

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Universities and Geography: Learning from the OECD?

Guest blog by Kevin Richardson, Research England

UKRI committed in its original Strategic Prospectus to publish a Place Strategy and work is progressing towards its publication. Meanwhile, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has opened an investigation into ‘universities and geography’. Kevin Richardson, Research England, identifies many common issues.

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The value of expertise

Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director

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.

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Towards a more place-sensitive approach to R&D and innovation investment

Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director

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.

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Civic universities and anchor institutions – from rhetoric to reality

Guest blog by Nicky Denison and Les Newby

The debate on the future of universities in the UK is a sculpted fog of opportunity and uncertainty.  Higher education (HE) is recognised as central to economic success more than ever before; and, with the growth of universities, there is scope for more people, businesses and communities to connect to the benefits that HE offers. But equally,

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YU on the front foot in thinking about future ‘growth’ funding

Kevin Richardson, Local Academy

Yorkshire Universities (YU) are very much on the front foot, working collaboratively with important local stakeholders, well in advance of the expected consultation on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. The new strategic approach of YU is certainly helping members and their partners to prepare for important decisions ahead. Delivered in association with the Local Academy, those attending a recent workshop challenged each other to identify the five biggest challenges ahead;

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YU response to the UK2070 inquiry into regional inequalities

The UK2070 Commission is an independent inquiry into city and regional inequalities in the UK. Chaired by Lord Kerslake, it has been set up to conduct a review of the policy and spatial issues related to the UK’s long-term city and regional development. Read YU’s response in full here.

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‘Australia’s regional universities…connecting with people and places that others cannot reach’

Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director

Last week I was on the Gold Coast, in Australia, where I was speaking, as a guest of the Australian Regional Universities Network (RUN), at a conference hosted by Southern Cross University to discuss the role of universities in transforming local and regional economies.

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‘Beyond Eds and Meds’: Realising the value of place-based university-health partnerships

Dr. Peter O’Brien, Executive Director

As published in the NHS Confederation Local Growth Bulletin on 8 October 2018.

“The advent of the local industrial strategy is placing a renewed focus on ‘place’, encouraging universities and the NHS to work collaboratively to help stimulate sustainable forms of growth and public service transformation. Dr Peter O’Brien, executive director of Yorkshire Universities, explains why this partnership presents a golden opportunity.

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Does Yorkshire get a fair deal from the Treasury?

Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director

On Tuesday, most children, including my two daughters, went back to school following the summer holidays. The same day, I was at Westminster, where a new term had started for parliamentarians about to embark upon one of the most crucial periods in the UK’s recent history, as the county leaves the European Union at the end of March 2019.

I was in London to attend a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, which had been called to discuss the balance of public investment made by central government in Yorkshire, compared to the rest of the country, and in particular London, and whether Yorkshire receives a ‘fair deal’ from the Treasury.

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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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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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