Universities as ‘anchor institutions’ in their local economies: devolution, skills development and supporting entrepreneurship

Morning, Thursday, 8th December 2016  – Central Manchester

This seminar will discuss latest thinking on the role of universities in the development of their local economies – and comes in the context of the fast-developing devolution of powers to Mayors and combined authorities in regions across England.


It follows Government’s announcement, earlier this year, of pilot areas for regional innovation audits, in addition to the HEFCE-funded Leading Places Project which will seek to develop lasting collaborations between universities and their local councils to improve services and boost economic development.

The agenda includes keynote addresses from: Kevin Richardson, Local Growth Consultant, HEFCE and Jacqui Ward, Director, Cities & Local Growth Unit.

Sessions will examine ways in which universities can support local economic growth, including through knowledge exchange, skills development and supporting entrepreneurship among staff, students and the wider community.  Delegates will also discuss what steps might be taken to address the ‘brain drain’ of graduates moving to London and the South East and away from the local economies in which they studied.


Overall, areas for discussion include:

  • Universities as ‘anchor institutions’ in the new devolution landscape: opportunities for universities to collaborate with England’s new Metro Mayors;
  • Developing the role universities can play in supporting local businesses to grow and encouraging graduate start-ups;
  • Universities working with local employers to boost high-level skills and retain graduates in the local economy;
  • Translating innovation into local growth and making the most of regional research strengths through smart specialisation;
  • The potential for new mission groups focused on regional collaboration, with a contribution from Gabriel Huntley, Head of Communications and Public Affairs and former Leader, Regional Leadership Campaign, University Alliance; and
  • Policy priorities for supporting universities and local growth. 

    The draft agenda is copied below my signature, and a regularly updated version is available to download here. The seminar is organised on the basis of strict impartiality by the Westminster Higher Education Forum. Follow us @WHEFEvents for live updates.

Speakers –We are delighted to be able to include in this seminar keynote addresses from: Kevin Richardson, Local Growth Consultant, HEFCE and Jacqui Ward, Director, Cities & Local Growth Unit.

Further confirmed speakers include: Andrew Bacon, Chief Executive, Enactus UK; Charlie Ball, Head of Higher Education Intelligence, Graduate Prospects and Deputy Director of Research, HECSU; Rowena Burns, Chief Executive, Manchester Science Partnerships; Susan Davies, Commercial Director, Santander Business Banking; Dr Nick Goldspink, Project Manager, N8 Research Partnership; Professor Ellie Hamilton, Emeritus Professor of Entrepreneurship, Lancaster University; Professor Mike Hinton, Director, Research and Technology Partnerships, High Value Manufacturing Catapult; Gabriel Huntley, Head of Communications and Public Affairs and former Leader, Regional Leadership Campaign, University Alliance; Matthew Rhodes, Managing Director, Encraft and Director, Innovation, Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership; Professor Tom Rodden, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Director, Horizon Doctoral Training Centre and Tristan Watson, Chief Executive Officer, Ignite Accelerator.

Baroness Hughes of Stretford has kindly agreed to chair part of this seminar.  Additional senior participants are being approached.

Networking – This seminar will present an opportunity to engage with key policymakers and other interested parties, and is CPD certified (more details). Places have been reserved by officials from BEIS and the Welsh Government. In addition to representatives from the universities noted above, places have also been reserved by Appco Group; Baily Garner; HEFCE and Preston City Council.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group numbering 120, including Members of both Houses of Parliament and officials from BEIS, DfE and other Government departments and agencies, university and college leaders; academics and other higher education professionals; representatives from students’ unions; businesses and their advisors; interest groups and the voluntary sector; along with commentators and reporters from the national and trade press.

Output and About Us – A key output of the seminar will be a transcript of the proceedings, sent out around 10 working days after the event to all attendees and a wider group of Ministers and officials at DfE, BEIS, DCLG and other government departments; officials at HEFCE, HEFCW, SFC and other agencies affected by the issues; and Parliamentarians with a special interest in these areas. It will also be made available more widely. This document will include transcripts of all speeches and questions and answers sessions from the day, along with access to PowerPoint presentations, speakers’ biographies, an attendee list, an agenda, sponsor information, as well as any subsequent press coverage of the day and any articles or comment pieces submitted by delegates. It is made available subject to strict restrictions on public use, similar to those for Select Committee Uncorrected Evidence, and is intended to provide timely information for interested parties who are unable to attend on the day.

All delegates will receive complimentary PDF copies and are invited to contribute to the content.  The Westminster Higher Education Forum is strictly impartial and cross-party, and draws on the considerable support it receives from within Parliament and Government, and amongst the wider stakeholder community. The Forum has no policy agenda of its own. Forum events are frequently the platform for major policy statements from senior Ministers, regulators and other officials, opposition speakers and senior opinion-formers in industry and interest groups. Events regularly receive prominent coverage in the national and trade press.


Booking arrangements  To book places, please use our online booking form.

Once submitted, this will be taken as a confirmed booking and will be subject to our terms and conditions below.

Please pay in advance by credit card on 01344 864796. If advance credit card payment is not possible, please let me know and we may be able to make other arrangements.

About CCCU Research Development

Research Development (RD) is part of the Department of Enterprise, Employability and Research Development. RD is responsible for ensuring that Research and Enterprise is of the highest quality and meets all required internal and external standards, including managing the institutional submission to the Research Excellence Framework (REF). RD leads on development and implementation of the institutional research and enterprise integrity policies, processes and best practice. It also hosts the institutional Staff Researcher Development Programme and the Early Career Researcher Programme SPARC, and is responsible for the annual Research Internship programme. RD provides strategic and targeted support for academic staff to seek and secure funding for their research and innovation activities. This includes identification of core funding opportunities and support for proposal development, alongside strategic advice and support for faculties to develop their research portfolio and capacity.

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