As Teesside University looks ahead to what the future holds in 2020, pro vice-chancellor (enterprise and business engagement) Prof Jane Turner unveils her vision to drive forward the University as an engine of innovation and a catalyst for business growth, strategic partnerships and regional and national prosperity.
From winning the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Excellence in Higher Education to being described as ‘the place to do business’ by the then business minister Vince Cable, Teesside University has justifiably had an enviable reputation for business engagement.
Over the next five years, it is our ambition to build upon this reputation and, by using the knowledge and academic excellence generated by the University, to further contribute to the economic, social and cultural success of students, partners and our community. We want to transform lives and economies by education enriched by research, innovation and engagement with business.
Naturally, with a plan as ambitious as this, there are inherent challenges. The difficulties facing the economies of the Tees Valley and wider North East are well publicised. However, we are confident that, along with our partners in industry, at Teesside University we have the skills and expertise to overcome these hurdles as well as the ability to capitalise upon the unique opportunities present in the region.
Local investment in the region has been strong, with £1.36bn of private sector investment in the last five years. As a region we are also recognised for our enterprising nature and have attracted major investment for innovative technologies such as subsea, industrial biotechnology, biologics and energy from waste and key developing markets in the area include digital and professional services.
We want to work with even more global businesses to bring skills and opportunities to Teesside and attract more inward investment in to the region.
The professional development of regional, national and international employees will play a key role in how we enable businesses to grow and prosper. Already, with our Leadership Accelerator and Leadership Forge programmes we have seen tangible results in this field. Using The Forge at Darlington as the Executive and Professional Development Centre we plan to expand our offer to business, ensuring organisations have access to relevant learning experiences for the key asset, people.
At the University, we will also enhance our distinctive research strengths in areas such as food technology, crime and forensics, digital technology and health and social care, to enable companies to apply this knowledge within their business.
Equally important is ensuring that our graduates are equipped with the right skills, knowledge and behaviours to enter the workplace – in other words that they are work-ready. We will take a much more focused approach to student employability guaranteeing that every student will have access to a work-related learning experience, whilst ensuring that employers are better informed and engaged to access the graduate talent they need.
Teesside University has an excellent track record for supporting entrepreneurship and we want to improve on this. Over the next five years, we will place particular emphasis upon student and graduate start-up, to ensure the creation of a viable business is seen as legitimate career option.
These are exciting times for Teesside University, and enterprise and business engagement will continue to play a key part in what makes our university special. We very much look forward to continuing our work with our regional, national and global partners to deliver innovation, regeneration and economic growth.