Issue date: 06 July 2001

The strength of the UK's post-election economy is being highlighted during the launch of the new Business and Regional Team (BART) at the University of the West of England on 6 July. Dennis Turner, Chief Economist of the HSBC gave the keynote address, entitled: 'The UK economy post election: where do we go from here?'

"In terms of the economic fundamentals, the UK economy is in very good shape," said Mr Turner. "In many ways, this is the best economy for a generation. Employment has climbed to a record level, government finances are showing a healthy surplus, and the UK economy has grown by 25% in real terms since 1992."

Over one hundred and fifty representatives of local and national businesses attended the launch. The Business and Regional Team is an important new initiative within the Centre for Research, Innovation and Industry. At UWE its role is to act as an institutional contact point for businesses wishing to forge links with the university, and to advise on possible collaborations.

There were, however, some words of caution. According to Mr Turner, much of the UK's activity relies on the consumer and on services, which means regions dependent on manufacturing and agriculture have not enjoyed the same growth. "In addition, our dependence on international trade makes us vulnerable to a slowdown in world markets," he commented. "Finally, we are close to the point where skill shortages will emerge."

BART team leader Monica Gibson-Sweet emphasised the importance of understanding economic developments in planning interaction between higher education and the business community.

The event offered guests the chance to network with other important players in the local, regional and national business and higher educational community. Companies represented included Alder King, WS Atkins, Hewlett-Packard, Lloyds TSB, Ernst and Young, Solomon Hare, Oscar Faber, Veale Wasbrough, Wildscreen and at-Bristol. Representatives also attended from the charity MusicSpace, the Universities of Bristol, Bath, Bath Spa and Exeter, the Department of Trade and Industry and DERA.


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