Writtle University College part of leading project to grow the regional economy

October 2017

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(NOTE: This is an archived press release.)

Writtle University College is proud to announce that it is part of a leading project to grow the East of England economy – which has today (Thursday 12 October) received a £4.7million funding boost from the Government.

Universities Minister Jo Johnson announced that the Government is investing the funds to grow the regional economy by encouraging collaboration between universities and businesses.

The Eastern Academic Research Consortium (Eastern ARC) - which comprises of the universities of Essex, East Anglia and Kent, working with fellow higher education providers in the eastern region -will focus on increasing productivity and business innovation.

Writtle University College has an active community of researchers and will be drawing on its expertise in areas such as crop analysis, sustainable development and landscape research, as well as its focus on being a 'near market' practitioner.

Professor Tim Middleton, Vice-Chancellor, said: “Writtle University College is a leading specialist provider of education, rooted in the economy of the region and the needs of businesses. Partnership working is key to our strength as an education provider and our reputation in the sectors we serve.

“Our courses are focused on providing industry with graduates who are ready with both the specialist practical knowledge and the business skills to be able to make the economy thrive. Our research is centred on innovation and efficiency in an increasingly competitive and uncertain marketplace.

“Since becoming a University College in 2016, we have embarked on a project to embed networking and business mindedness into everything we do. As a partner in the Consortium, we will be supporting businesses in our areas of expertise, sharing knowledge and ensuring our research has a real-life application, thanks to this funding boost.”

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has awarded the £4.7million to establish a network that will support business innovation in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent.

The Enabling Innovation: Research to Application (EIRA) network will build collaborations with businesses and those partnerships will collectively have access to new funding, training, networking opportunities and collaborative working space.

Vanessa Cuthill, Director of the Research and Enterprise Office at the University of Essex which is leading the project on behalf of Eastern ARC, said: “We have world leading research in the east of England across our higher education sector, but the region scores lower than the UK average for productivity and growth.

“This network aims to change this by harnessing the resources of regional universities and connecting businesses with our expertise, particularly across the areas that Eastern ARC specialises in – artificial intelligence, agri-tech, and digital creative.”

Professor Anthony Forster, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex said: “We’re determined to put our research into action to help drive growth in the region and support innovation in businesses.

“This new funding will allow us to transform the relationship between universities and the private sector to deliver on the huge potential of the eastern region by sharing knowledge and expertise.”

The network is made up of the universities of Essex, East Anglia and Kent, with Writtle University College as a higher education partner along with the University of Suffolk, Norwich University of the Arts and Harlow College. Initial external partners include BT, South East LEP, New Anglian LEP, Digital Catapult, Tech East and Agri-Tech East.

The funding has been allocated from the £20million first round of HEFCE’s Connecting Capability Fund which supports universities in working together and with external partners to commercialise research, and contributes to the delivery of the Government’s Industrial Strategy. Eastern ARC’s EIRA network project was one of just four major projects awarded funding in the first round.