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09 Feb 2022

New strategic partnership will support post-Covid regeneration and the levelling up agenda across the East Midlands

A new strategic partnership between the University of Nottingham and East Midlands Chamber is set to cement links between academics and businesses to support the post-Covid recovery of the region’s economy and the levelling up agenda.

The agreement with one of the largest chambers of commerce in the UK, which has more than 4,000 business members across Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire, was unveiled at a launch event held at the university’s iconic Trent Building on University Campus yesterday (8 February). It will help to underpin the university’s civic mission, while widening access for businesses to world-leading research and SME support.

The prestigious partnership, which is offered to organisations on an exclusive invitation-only basis, formalises at an institution level links forged between the Chamber and the Nottingham University Business School, which is a current partner on the Chamber’s Generation Next programme to support networking opportunities for young business leaders and entrepreneurs of the future.

Professor David Park, associate dean of Nottingham University Business School, said: “I strongly welcome the exciting evolution of our current patronage relationship between the Chamber and the Business School, into an active, institution-wide strategic partnership designed to help deliver our shared priorities. The agreement includes details of specific, regionally-focused projects and formalises relations at the highest level between two regional powerhouses.”

How strategic partnership between East Midlands Chamber and University of Nottingham will support civic pride and businesses

The Chamber will provide a conduit to business communities in Nottingham and the wider county to support the delivery of the pioneering civic agreement between Nottingham’s two universities and local partners, which makes a number of pledges.

These include the use of innovation to support a sustainable economic recovery; collaboration for environmental sustainability, supporting the city’s net zero ambitions for 2028; and to maximise the economic opportunities provided by strong local health, life sciences and medtech sectors.

At the heart of this civic engagement will be Castle Meadow in Nottingham, which is to become the university’s fourth UK campus in the city, offering improved teaching and research space and dedicated provision for professional practice-based courses.

It will enhance opportunities for collaboration with local business, industry and small businesses and make it easier to develop long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with partners, building on the university’s longstanding strengths in innovation, business engagement and graduate employability.

One of the site’s first occupants will be the new Digital Nottingham initiative, which will support economic activity, attract investment and bridge the digital skills gap in the city, while using expertise in research to create opportunities for growth and regeneration.

Combining ground-breaking work by academics in all faculties in the fields of data science, technology and innovation, the programme will build on the university’s already strong collaborations with local stakeholders in skills and business.

It will provide an innovation hub – creating a research and knowledge exchange programme in artificial intelligence, data science and fintech in partnership with industry – that will deliver lasting benefit for the city’s economy.

The closer collaboration between the university and Chamber places the region in a prime position to capitalise on potential additional research funding and investment brought about by the levelling up agenda, bringing together academics with businesses to find solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges, including the development of zero carbon aviation technology to help tackle climate change.

East Midlands Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles said: “Nottingham is undergoing a quiet revolution, with some key developments promising to transform the landscape of a city that is increasingly becoming an attractive place for people to move from other parts of the country.

“In the University of Nottingham, there is also some fascinating research happening right now that could play a central role in the net zero agenda and advanced manufacturing, to name just two areas that have huge commercial potential.

“By partnering with East Midlands Chamber, we can forge a strong alliance between business and academia for the greater benefit of Nottingham by helping to address key issues, and identify opportunities, in the levelling up agenda and post-Covid economic recovery.

“We look forward to working closely with the university over the coming years on a wide range of activities including digital upskilling, business leadership development and the ESG agenda – complementing some of our own initiatives such as Generation Next and Sustainable East Midlands.”

University of Nottingham to back Generation Next

In addition, the strategic partnership includes university sponsorship of the Education and Business Partnership Award category at the Nottinghamshire Business Awards 2022 and the 2022 Midlands Energy Summit in December. This is held in partnership with the university’s energy innovation and collaboration team and will explore how Government, businesses, academia and civil society come together to ensure that clean growth can underpin our future economy.

The university will continue to be a partner of the Chamber’s Generation Next programme, offering the opportunity to help shape the support and skills of young professionals across the East Midlands.

It also sponsors the Generation Next Breakthrough Award at the Generation Next Awards, recognising new businesses which have started up in the past three years that have achieved consistent growth, backed by strong financial performance.

Entrants must be between 18 and 35 and able to demonstrate current activity to grow market share and the effect this is having on business performance. This year’s awards are due to launch on 17 March.