The University of Strathclyde’s partnerships with business and industry will offer a £1.4bn boost to the Scottish and global economy over the next 10 years, a report has found.
An independent study shows the University's unique research collaborations are set to almost double in the next decade – meaning it will contribute nearly £1.4 billion to the Scottish economy by 2021/22.
The news was announced as the University held a topping-out ceremony at its new Technology and Innovation Centre, marking the building’s construction project reaching its highest point. The £89 million centre in the heart of Glasgow is set to transform the way universities, business and industry collaborate in sectors central to economic growth, including power and energy, health, and high value manufacturing.
Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal of the University, said: “As a leading, technological university, we are committed to working side-by-side with business and industry to find solutions to global challenges, accelerate the pace of research and development and deliver benefit to our students, society and the economy at large.
“The Technology and Innovation Centre will play a critical role in supporting our core industry partners, attracting innovative businesses to the city and forging new levels of collaboration between researchers, the public and private sectors.
“Today’s report further underlines the contribution universities can make by translating research into high impact, applicable, solutions and providing high-quality graduates for a wide range of industries.”
Much of the University’s growth is expected to come from its collaborative centres. According to the BiGGAR Economics’ “University of Strathclyde Economic Impact Study”, the Technology and Innovation Centre will have an annual economic impact of £64.5 million by 2021/22.
Collectively, the impact of the University’s collaborative research centres – founded on close links with international companies such as Rolls Royce and GlaxoSmithKline, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises – will amount to £161.2 million per annum in a decade’s time.
Through these centres – which include the Power Networks Demonstration Centre, the Advanced Forming Research Centre, and the Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Continuous Manufacturing and Crystallisation – the University is also expected to become increasingly competitive in attracting students and research income, resulting in an increase in staff numbers of two per cent a year.
Using these predictions, it can be estimated that, by 2021/22, Strathclyde’s economic impact in Scotland will be nearly £1.4 billion – 35 per cent higher than in 2012/13. This is equivalent to growth of £358 million, of which 45 per cent will be attributable to the collaborative research centres.
However, even this figure is likely to be an underestimate, as many of the University’s technological advances are embedded within complex engineering and technology systems and machinery, such as aircraft engines and wind turbines.
Sir Jim added: “The University’s collaborative relationship with industry and the public sector, and the leadership role it has in delivering innovation and the development of competitive advantage in priority sectors, is crucial to future economic performance. While the full, long-term economic impact of the University’s activities is difficult to assess, even those impacts that can be measured represent a good return on the investment from the taxpayer.”
Developed with industry, for industry, the Technology and Innovation Centre has already attracted major international partners including SSE, ScottishPower and the Weir Group, as well as financial backing from Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Funding Council and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The landmark, 26,000 square metre building – the equivalent floor space of around 100 tennis courts – will be completed later this year.
Keith Cochrane, Weir Group CEO, said: "I would like to congratulate the University of Strathclyde on this important milestone. The University's commitment to providing first-class facilities as well as access to leading academics is one of the reasons we invested in the Weir Advanced Research Centre to help develop new and innovative products. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the University, making use of the Technology and Innovation Centre to bring benefits to our Group."
Strathclyde was in the top five UK universities for the formation of spin-out and start-up companies over the last 10 years – and ranked fourth in the number of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships undertaken.
In addition to its collaborative research centres, the University is closely engaged in the Technology Strategy Board’s Catapult programme, which is investing £1 billion to create a network of world-leading centres to transform the UK’s capability for innovation in seven specific areas and drive future growth. The Catapult centres enable UK businesses, scientists and engineers work together on late-stage research and development. Glasgow is participating in several of these seven centres – the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult and programmes within the Satellite Applications and Future Cities Catapults – and the University of Strathclyde was instrumental in attracting all four to Scotland.
Collaborations with industry are also a driver of the University’s global links:
- Strathclyde is the exclusive European partner for South Korea’s global research and commercialisation programme
- It is home to the UK headquarters and the first UK research hub of Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, Europe’s largest contract research organisation
- The University is a founding partner of the world’s first International Max Planck Partnership, which is boosting the development of new quantum technologies
Strathclyde is highly engaged in four sectors of strategic importance to the Scottish Government – energy, life sciences, engineering & technology and the universities sector. The University is also a major contributor to the education and healthcare sectors, training Scotland’s teachers, being a leader for pharmaceutical teaching, being home to one of only two UK two courses in prosthetics and orthotics and using the Technology and Innovation Centre to enhance engagement with industry in health technologies.
As with other universities, a key contribution of Strathclyde to businesses, sectors and the economy and society as a whole is the training of highly skilled people, at graduate and advanced degree levels. For example, Strathclyde is one of UK’s largest engineering schools and the largest in Scotland, producing nearly 50 per cent of Scotland’s engineering undergraduates in electronics, mechanics and software.
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