Issue date: 15 June 2004

ISSUE DATE: 15/06/04

The University of the West of England has won major government funding likely to total £4.3 million over 5 years to build on its successful track record in collaborating with business and industry in the region. The first two years’ funding of £2.8 million has just been announced.

UWE led two bids to the government’s Higher Education Innovation Fund and supported two further bids led by Harper Adams College in Shropshire and another by the University of Salford. All four succeeded in a national competition run by the Bristol-based Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). The Higher Education Innovation Fund is a partnership fund managed by HEFCE on behalf of the Department of Trade and Industry/Office of Science and Technology (DTI/OST), and the Department for Education and Skills (DfES).

The first bid was for a five year project to establish a local Centre of Excellence for Knowledge Exchange. UWE led a consortium including Business West, Bristol City Council, the Learning and Skills Council, the Universities of Bath, Bristol and Gloucestershire, the Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester and Bath Spa University College. UWE has been awarded £1 million over the next two years, with a further £1.5 million expected in the following three years.

The Centre for Knowledge Exchange will be a collaborative gateway to world class higher education expertise in the West of England, encouraging the commercialisation of innovative concepts. It will concentrate on serving local knowledge-intensive industries and medium-sized businesses with high growth potential. For example, the initiative is designed to help improve collaborations between different industries. It will also support a small number of Flagship Initiatives such as the Advanced Composites Research Centre proposed by Airbus. The collaboration is expected to attract more inward investment to the region and will be based at the new Science Park at Emersons Green.

A separate award of £1.8 million over two years will enable UWE to expand its work with business and the community, including enabling recent graduates to fast-track into high quality local employment. It will boost research and consultancy and lead to further investment in the University’s strengths including science and health; design, construction and regeneration, and creative industries.

The successful Harper Adams bid will support a National Rural Knowledge Exchange. The rural economy is particularly important in the South West and UWE with its partner Hartpury College will play an important role in managing the regional element of the project.

This, together with the involvement in the successful Salford Construction Knowledge Exchange bid, will mean that UWE is involved in three of the 22 national Centres of Knowledge Exchange awarded by HEFCE.

“We are delighted with the news of these awards,” said Vice-Chancellor Alfred Morris.

“They confirm UWE’s commitment to knowledge transfer and recognise our track record of using innovation funds to great effect. We work in partnership with the South West Regional Development Agency, Bristol City Council, Business West, the Learning and Skills Council and other regional Higher Education Institutions. By working together we can powerfully enhance the economic, social and cultural prosperity of our region.”

The number of students in the Higher Education Institutions involved in the consortium totals over 55,000, of which 24,300 study at UWE. Some 94,000 people (19.5% of all employment in the West of England) work in officially defined knowledge sectors, significantly above the national average.


Editor’s notes

1. UWE’s bids were widely supported by industry. Quotes include:

“A single gateway will greatly enhance [collaboration]…. I look forward to working with the consortium” Paul Harris VP Corporate Venturing, Rolls Royce Plc

“This will do much to improve the prospects of small to medium sized businesses in the South West” Jeremy Payne, HTV Group Managing Director

“By way of showing our special commitment we [Business West] will invest in the success of the Knowledge Exchange” Phil Smith Joint Managing Director Business West”

2. The Higher Education Innovation Fund provides special funding to higher education institutions (HEIs) in England for activities that increase their capability to respond to the needs of business (including companies of all sizes and sectors and a range of bodies within the wider community), where this will lead to identifiable economic benefits.

3. The funding, worth £187 million over the next two years, will initiate a network of around 22 Knowledge Exchanges. These will be exemplars of good practice in interactions between less research-intensive HEIs and business. Each Knowledge Exchange will be funded for five years.

4. These initiatives are a response to the Lambert Review, published in December 2003, whose key recommendations included additional funds for centres of excellence, business driven R&D and collaborative activity

5. A further example of UWE’s growing reputation includes a top prize from the Department of Trade and Industry for ‘Best Application of Knowledge 2003’ in the Knowledge Transfer Partnership Awards. In doing so, the UWE team beat off competition from 159 other entries from universities across the UK.

For more information contact Linda Skinner, e-mail Linda.skinner@uwe.ac.uk
Tel: 0117 3282835 or mobile 07785 773017
Fax: 0117 3282688

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