Universities can advance regional developments with the help of industrial strategy

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Universities can advance regional developments with the help of industrial strategy

The new waves of technology are eliminating old economies and changing the world. As Britain exits European Union (EU), it will change how they trade, transfer goods and people around, and maneuver in the world. It has been ages since the national governments made plans about Britain’s future, hence now it is the time for some progressive transformation.

The UK government has since embarked on an industrial strategy white paper for the execution of proper investment and connectivity. Keeping in line with this sound initiative, UK Prime Minister Theresa May has outlined how the government plans to increase public and private R&D investment by up to £80 billion over the next 10 years. The prime minister also announced £1.7 billion spending to improve transport links within city regions. These are carried out to rectify the underlying long-term economic challenges which have been further aggravated with the financial collapse in 2008 and recent Brexit. The challenges include poor productivity, unbalanced regional growth and a weak track record in translating knowledge creation into inclusive wealth creation.

The industrial strategy will need to take a comprehensive, regional approach in order to improve the lives of its people. By solely investing in potentially notably industrial sectors such as digital, advanced manufacturing and health technologies will only lead to inequalities and a failure to achieve inclusive growth. Now UK will need to come up with new innovative strategies and identify the factors that are pushing the growth in cities and regions – including universities. They will also need to recognise that the nation’s knowledge economic success is dependent on bridging the gap between innovation and implementation.

For instance, Sheffield Hallam University has been contributing half a billion pounds to its regional economy, working with more than 2,000 employers every year through research, innovation and graduate recruitment. The institution is investing £14m in building the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre to create health innovation. It gathers academics, industry and the medical profession to create the most advanced research and development centre for physical activity in the world – and attracts jobs and investment. The centre will also generate health benefits for the entire population by helping people exercise more effectively.

This is what engaged universities do hence it is not exclusive. With a more targeted government support through the industrial strategy, more can be achieved to help rectify the productivity imbalance within the region.

The dynamic world needs creative responses that prompts innovation, using research to identify real world problems and stimulate new developments that can have a real impact. Universities can drive prosperity, establishing flourishing economies based on teaching and research. The next step is to advance their potential to stimulate an inclusive growth.

Source: The Guardian

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