University Fuels Economic Growth in Region
Lancaster University has made a huge economic contribution to the North West economy, helping to create over 700 new jobs in the region according to latest figures.
The recent evaluation of projects delivered by the University between 2006-08 with funds from the European Regional Development Fund showed that the University also safeguarded a further 1,800 existing jobs.
The expert help was provided through a dozen projects which have also led to increased sales of over £46m at a total of 445 small to medium sized businesses.
One project alone - the Lancaster Business Creation Project run by the University’s Research and Enterprise Services - created 57 jobs in start-up companies or ones which had traded for less than a year, leading to over £2.5m of new sales.
Other projects included
the Creative Awareness Network for fledgling creative businesses
Create Solutions aimed at helping businesses and social enterprises to enhance their ICT capacity whilst gaining students job winning skills
the Business Support Initiative that helped companies to behave more innovatively, run by Lancaster University Management School.
Roderick O’Brien, Director of the University’s Research and Enterprise Division, which co-ordinates all of the initiatives, said: “‘Lancaster University is committed to making a positive contribution to the economic and social well being of the region. Our recognised excellence in research and teaching is now matched by the application of our ideas, knowledge, technologies and skills to drive positive impact with regional small and medium sized enterprises.”
In addition, a further 14 projects funded by the Higher Education Innovation Fund until 2008 saw the University work with another 519 small to medium sized companies (SMEs), 21 large companies and 11 non-commercial organisations.
The Lancaster Environment Centre, for example, helped 42 SMEs and enabled 20 student placements, while the Lancaster University Management School helped 133 SMEs. InfoLab21 helped 93 SMEs and the Lancaster Product Development Unit 95.
Overall, a total of 373 students undertook work placements, including 209 through the Lancaster University Volunteering Unit and 85 through InfoLab21.
A recent Universities UK report highlights the economic benefits of universities, showing that universities contributed about £59 billion to the economy in 2008 and employed, directly or indirectly, 2.6 per cent of the entire UK workforce.
Lancaster University has successfully applied to continue its successful work through a suite of new projects part funded by European Regional Development Fund through the North West Operational Programme 2007-13.
Support is now available from the University to help regional SMEs become more innovative in their business practices, to adopt transformational information and communications technologies solutions, to develop more environmentally sustainable products, processes and services and to access expert support in rapid manufacturing technologies as well as projects that support regional businesses through student consultancies and that support students to start their own businesses.