Midlands universities amongst the country’s best for promoting economic growth, new assessment finds

Date posted: December 18, 2023
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Scientist looking through microscope University Economic Contributions

A national assessment of how universities contribute to regional economies highlights the strength of universities in the Midlands in helping to promote economic growth. The third national Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) also recognised the creation of new ‘spin-out’ businesses, products and services that are generated through academic research.

All eight Midlands Innovation partner institutions – the universities of Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Keele, Loughborough, Leicester, Nottingham and Warwick – are rated in the top two categories of the country’s highest performing universities for performing to a ‘very high and ‘high’ standard for their work with business, and seven in the ‘very high’ or ‘high’ categories for the IP they generate and the commercialisation of research.

This is reflected in the array of initiatives carried out by these universities, including the Universities as Drivers of Trade and Investment pilot – an inward investment pilot to increase more overseas investment into regional research and development which is being extended and expanded due to its success.

The KEF results also show the importance of the IP and commercialisation potential of Midlands Mindforge Ltd, a patient capital investment company. Midlands Mindforge’s ambition is to accelerate and enhance the commercialisation of ground-breaking university science and technology innovations from the MI universities and other IP rich early stage businesses from across the Midlands.

Professor Trevor McMillan OBE, Vice-Chancellor of Keele University and Vice-Chair of the Midlands Engine Executive Board, has been at the forefront of enhancing knowledge exchange across the country, when in his national role as Knowledge Exchange Champion for Research England. Professor McMillan said: “The Knowledge Exchange Framework is designed to demonstrate universities’ impact on the economy and society. I am delighted that the 2023 results reinforce the research strength of MI partner institutions.

“With the country aspiring to become an innovation nation and science superpower, Midlands Innovation partners are in strong position to positively influence these aims through the critical role they undertake working with businesses, in producing the next generation of entrepreneurs and the commercialisation of research.”

The third national Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) published (September 2023) by Research England evaluates the contributions English higher education providers make to communities, both economically and socially, at both a local and a national level.

More than 100 universities have provided detailed information of how they work with businesses, promote economic growth in their local area and how they build public and community engagement.

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