Thousands of jobs and hundreds of new businesses expected for North East as universities team up with employers and local leaders to drive post-pandemic recovery

Universities, employers, and local leaders are joining forces to help create thousands of jobs in the North East as the region’s recovery from the pandemic gathers pace.

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 12:01 am
Universities are aiming to be at the heart of the North East's recovery from the pandemic

New research published today by Universities UK (UUK), compiled by the National Centre for Entrepreneurship in Education (NCEE), predicts that over the next five years universities in the North East will help bring sweeping economic benefits to the region.

This includes research projects with partners worth almost £1billion, helping form 725 new businesses and charities, and training more than 10,000 nurders, 4,000 medics and 8,000 teachers.

The research is published as UUK, which represents Britain’s universities, launches its #GettingResults - a campaign to put universities at the heart of the economic and social recovery.

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Sunderland University Vice Chancellor Sir David Bell meets with Student Ambassadors at CitySpace Picture: DAVID WOOD

The campaign sees higher education leaders pledge renewed commitment from universities to do even more to reach out to new partners locally and nationally and deliver even greater impact than currently estimated.

Sir David Bell KCB DL, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Sunderland, who is supporting the campaign, said: "At the University of the Sunderland, we have always taken pride in the many ways in which we contribute to social and economic development and growth, both in the city and beyond.

"As we begin to rebuild from the pandemic, the role of universities is more relevant than ever in supporting individuals and businesses. We offer courses in a wide range of applied areas such as medicine, nursing, engineering, computer science, business and law – to name but a few. Through our work, we create a pipeline of highly skilled graduates, all of whom will contribute the region’s future success.

"Data released recently in Research England’s first Knowledge Exchange Framework revealed Sunderland to be the top university in the north-east of England for graduate start-ups, with 93% describing the support they received as ‘high quality’.

Universities are aiming to be at the heart of the North East's recovery from the pandemic

"Sunderland was also in the top 10% of universities nationally for contributing to local growth and regeneration, through projects like the Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (SAM) initiative, which has just been evaluated as contributing a gross £43 million to the regional economy.

"All-in-all, the University of Sunderland is in the business of creating ‘useful knowledge’, the bedrock of a thriving city and region."

The work is being overseen by a newly created Universities UK Economic and Social Taskforce,

Professor Chris Day, Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University, said: “Universities are at the heart of the nation’s recovery from the pandemic. Over the past year we have seen first-hand what can be achieved through strong collaboration between our universities and their partners.

“Now universities want to do more, to help the UK to bounce back stronger, with opportunity and prosperity spread across the country. We are looking to form strategic partnerships with employers and sector bodies throughout the UK to strengthen collaboration between universities and their partners.”

He added: “A great example of this is the Newcastle Helix, a £350million development with 2,600 jobs in 65 different organisations on the site. This true coming together of academia, business, public sector and more has been innovating and collaborating to support the global fight against COVID-19.

"Not only to combat the immediate impacts but preparing cities and regions for our post-Covid world.”

UUK said throughout the pandemic, businesses, and a wide range of sectors not just within the North East region, but across the UK, have suffered greatly, leading to economic and social damage.

The organisation said contributions made by universities and their students through knowledge and skills exchange, partnerships and support for local employers have huge potential to help businesses, industries, and other partners to continue, recover and thrive following the pandemic.

The skills of graduates from Newcastle, Durham, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside universities will also have an important role to play in the future success of businesses and sectors during the Covid-19 recovery process.

The University of Sunderland has recently established the new £1.6million Digital Incubator at St Peter's Campus, which is already playing a key role in supporting entrepreneurial students who want to establish their own online businesses, many of which will be based in the north-east.

Newcastle University has been running bootcamps for student or graduate entrepreneurs.

One successful enterprise has been the creation of the 'Spareable' app which enables individuals to donate to their local food bank remotely to save time and food waste. The platform is now providing 25% more food for food banks and its founder - Electronic Business and Information Systems MSc graduate Masitano Sichone - was recently named a 'Top 100 Changemaker 2020 Defeating Poverty.’

Durham University, Sphera UK is a student spinout based in Stockton-on-Tees that is focussed on developing carbon zero and carbon negative concrete blocks. Their innovation pipeline includes a concrete accelerant to speed up concrete curing rate and decrease cement content. These pioneering solutions are developed to help tackle climate change by offering the industry low carbon material alternatives that specifically focus on embodied carbon content.

Newcastle Business School, at Northumbria University, has worked with the Small Business Charter over the past year to provide a government-funded programme for leaders of small businesses across the North of England to survive and thrive following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Through this Small Business Leadership programme Northumbria supported more than 180 businesses across the North East and Cumbria. Based on its success, Northumbria has now been selected as the only university in the region to deliver a follow-up programme called Help to Grow Management.

The new programme is backed by £150million of additional Government funding to help up to 30,000 SMEs across the UK - including a significant number in the North East.

Over the past year, Teesside University has assisted more than 220 small and medium sized businesses with 339 projects. It has also helped launch 11 new businesses, worked with a total of 34 start-ups, and prepared 26 budding entrepreneurs through the Microbiz Academy programme. The University has also matched 156 graduate interns with work in Tees Valley businesses and provided digital skills training for 276 people.