New gateway to knowledge opens in the West

Issue date: 07 March 2005


Issue date: 07/03/05

Six West of England Universities have joined forces with Business West to set up a new ‘gateway’ offering easier access to world-class knowledge for businesses and industries in the region. The new centre, called Knowledge West, has been launched at the University of the West of England, and aims to help businesses in the region tackle the challenges of competing in the global economy.

The Knowledge West consortium – the universities of Bath, Bristol, Gloucestershire, West of England, Bath Spa University College and the Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester, together with Business West – will together offer a local gateway to world-class expertise.

The initiative is one of the new national Centres of Excellence in Knowledge Exchange funded by the government. Niels Gedge, Director of Knowledge West, said:

“By combining the firepower of our local Universities in this way, Knowledge West will help businesses – whether small, medium or prime – to tackle challenges such as e-procurement and to help encourage smaller businesses to use technology to participate in large procurement contracts with the NHS, Bristol City Council, Rolls Royce and the MOD.

“We will also concentrate on helping technology and innovation industries in the West such as aerospace and creative media.”

According to a recent DTI report, innovation is a key factor in safeguarding and providing high quality jobs, encouraging successful businesses and more environmentally friendly processes. It acknowledges the threat faced by British-based manufacturing companies from developing economies, but points out that advances in science and technology offer many opportunities, with high-tech industries outperforming the economy as a whole during the last ten years.
Rolande Anderson, Deputy Director General of the DTI’s Innovation Group, together with representatives of the partner universities, industries and Bristol City Council attended the launch of the new initiative. Helen Holland, Executive Member for External Affairs and Regeneration for the City Council, said:

“We have supported this initiative since the outset and are delighted that the bid for Knowledge West has been successful. We are really excited about the opportunity it offers for public agencies to work with businesses to improve performance and productivity through procurement.”

The West of England, particularly the area surrounding the M4/M5 interchange, is one of high economic performance, and is home to a range of large industrial organisations of national and world importance. A high proportion of the workforce is educated to degree level (27%), and over one quarter of jobs (130,000) is in knowledge-based industries.

Knowledge West aims to contribute to the growth of this knowledge-based economy and to help attract new innovative businesses to the area. Services on offer at the centre will include support in getting included in bids for research funds, access to the right academic expertise, and access to business networks for knowledge-based innovation and best practice. This will include a service to source potential non-executive directors for smaller or medium sized businesses.

The centre, launched at UWE’s environmentally-friendly architecture studio, which features straw-bale construction, is initially based at the University of the West of England. Eventually, it will be one of the first occupants of the new Science Park, to be constructed at Emerson’s Green.

-ENDS-

Editor’s notes

• For further information visit on Knowledge West visit the website at www.knowledgewest.org.uk.
• ‘Competing in the global economy: the innovation challenge’ is a report of the Department of Trade and Industry, December 2003
• Business West incorporates Business Link West, Bristol Chamber of Commerce & Initiative and other local Chambers of Commerce. The West of England region encompasses the key urban areas of Bristol, Bath and Weston-super-Mare and is administered by four unitary authorities, the local Councils of Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

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