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MI universities nationally recognised for contributions to business growth and regeneration

A new national assessment of how universities contribute to regional economies and communities highlights the strength of universities in the Midlands Innovation partnership in helping to promote economic growth.

The Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) published (31 MARCH 2021) by Research England shows the contributions English higher education providers make to communities, both economically and socially, at both a local and a national level.

More than 100 institutions provided detailed narrative accounts of how they build public and community engagement and promote economic growth in their local area. The narratives paint a detailed, never-seen-before, picture of how universities engage with their communities to build deeper relationships and to stimulate local growth.

The KEF reveals that universities in the Midlands are particularly successful in driving local growth and regeneration. Nine of the region’s universities are in the top 20% for local growth and regeneration with MI partners’ Universities of Birmingham, Keele, and Leicester, placed in the top 10% nationally.

Professor Trevor McMillan, Vice-Chancellor at Keele University and Chair of Midlands Innovation, has been at the forefront of enhancing knowledge exchange across the country, in his national role as Knowledge Exchange Champion for Research England. Professor McMillan said: “The KEF is designed to provide an evaluation that helps universities and their partners play to each other’s strengths and to work together to have productive outcomes for the economy and society more broadly. 

“The new data show that the Midlands is in a strong position to ensure that world class research and education provision in our universities will play a critical role in the further development of the Midlands as a strong economic force as well as help our communities recover from the impact of the last year.”

The KEF also highlights the key role that Midlands universities play in working with business.  Eight of the region’s universities are in the top 20% nationally, with MI Partners’ Cranfield, Loughborough and the University of Nottingham in the top 10% nationally.

All eight Midlands Innovation partners (the universities of; Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Keele, Loughborough, Leicester, Nottingham and Warwick) scored highly in the national outlook for the research they undertake in partnership. Dr Helen Turner, Director of MI, said: “As a partnership of the Midlands most research-intensive universities, I am thrilled that our partners have nationally been recognised amongst the country’s leading academic institutions for the collaborative research that they undertake across our partnership and beyond.”

Midlands Innovation partners also ranked in the top 10% nationally for; skills, enterprise and entrepreneurship (Cranfield), public and community engagement (The University of Warwick), research partnerships (Keele), and working with the public and third sectors (University of Birmingham).

Midlands Innovation partners also scored highly when compared to other institutions nationally for turning research into Intellectual Property and commercial business products or services and for their work supporting the public and community engagement.

Chair of the Midlands Engine, Sir John Peace, said: “I am delighted but not surprised that universities across the Midlands have been recognised as exemplars on the new national Knowledge Exchange Framework. 

“Universities in the Midlands play an integral role in our region and beyond. We only have to look at the way that Universities have galvanised to support businesses, industry, local communities and the public sector during the pandemic – be that through training and releasing final year medical students to become NHS Doctors and Nurses serving on the frontline at the start of the pandemic, or providing a vast array of businesses support initiatives to help businesses during this challenging time. They have also donated food and voluntary services to support local communities and have and continue to undertake key COVID research which is helping not just our national pandemics efforts, but across the globe too.”