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East Midlands Chamber News

Universities for Nottingham Civic Agreement launched to drive post-Covid economic revival in Nottinghamshire

Nottingham’s two universities have joined forces with a number of the county’s public bodies to launch a new economic and educational partnership that will be the first of its kind in the UK.

The inaugural Universities for Nottingham Civic Agreement brings the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University closer together, along with the city and county’s local authorities, hospitals, integrated care system and the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

It follows the launch of the Universities for Nottingham initiative in January, with the agreement – accelerated and refocused in response to Covid-19 – features 14 priority schemes beginning in the next 18 months that will help drive economic revival, support communities and protect jobs.

One element it will involve is the universities working in collaboration with the D2N2 LEP, both councils and other partners to deliver SME and enterprise programmes.

These will be aligned to local Covid-19 recovery plans to support more than 2,000 businesses and create over 1,000 jobs.

Universities for Nottingham Civic Agreement ‘demonstrates commitment to city’

Professor Edward Peck, president and vice-chancellor of Chamber strategic partner Nottingham Trent University, said: “We shared our ambition for collaboration across both universities and our partners at the launch of Universities for Nottingham in January.

“At the time, we could not have envisaged just how essential that collaboration would be to helping our region recover from one of the toughest global economic and social crises it would face.

“Today’s civic agreement is the result of the universities and our partners pulling together to establish not just what we can achieve together, but how we will set about doing so as we help drive local recovery and strive to build back better.”

Professor Shearer West, president and vice-chancellor of Chamber patron the University of Nottingham, added: “This agreement demonstrates our commitment to working with our city and regional partners to bring about positive change for the people who live, work or visit Nottingham.

“We are at a critical point in global history with our communities experiencing the devastating social and economic repercussions of the pandemic. Now, more than ever, we need to work together to drive local recovery and renewal.

“Today, we acknowledge the integral link between our universities and the city and county we are proud to call home. We are bound by a shared vision to enhance prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for current and future generations in our region.”

What does the Universities for Nottingham Civic Agreement involve?

The development of a civic agreement was one of the recommendations of the national UPP Foundation Civic University Commission. Nottingham’s institutions are the first of nearly 60 universities across the UK who have so far committed to publishing one.

It is the result of more than 400 hours of conversations between over 150 partners and colleagues that have taken place over the past 18 months.

Its signatories are the D2N2 LEP, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Integrated Care System, Nottingham City Council, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Nottinghamshire County Council, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust and University of Nottingham.

Across the 14 initiatives, it sets out a plan of collective action for the next year, covering five themes – economic prosperity, educational opportunity, environmental sustainability, health and wellbeing, and “unlocking the universities”.

One scheme beginning immediately is joint work between the universities to ensure the safe and secure return of students to Nottingham from September.

It will also feature the development of a longer-term student living and regeneration strategy that both recognises the vital role they play in supporting businesses and jobs, as well as the importance of building stronger relationships between students and city residents.

The universities have already been working closely with Public Health England and local public health officials to develop a nationally-commended Local Outbreak Plan with a strong focus on higher education.

The Local Resilience Forum and both universities have also established a dedicated taskforce to support the safe return of students – looking at the role they play in the local economy, how to ensure positive community relations, and how local partners and businesses can work together with the universities to offer a warm welcome in the autumn.

Nottinghamshire leaders on working closer together

Councillor Kay Cutts MBE, leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “I’m proud that key organisations from across the whole of Nottinghamshire are coming together at this challenging time.

“This agreement will be instrumental in strengthening alliances and help to make Nottinghamshire an even better place to live, work, learn and invest. Our two world-class universities are key to developing the innovation, skills and talent needed to support the local economy, which is more important than ever.”

Councillor David Mellen, leader of Nottingham City Council, said: “This civic agreement recognises that the two universities play a valuable role in our city life, culturally, economically and socially.

“Students from across the country come to Nottingham and add to our vibrant and diverse communities, many of whom stay here and then contribute further to the city.

“The Universities for Nottingham initiative recognises the challenges we face in the city and that by coming together with the city council and other partners, we can all work together to improve the sustainability, health and economy of the city.

“I welcome this contribution to the city and look forward to making real strides for Nottingham people together.”

David Williams, interim chairman of D2N2 LEP, added: “D2N2 is delighted to be involved in this unique partnership to improve the lives of local people and shape Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. “This pioneering agreement will be vital in our collective efforts to address the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, support local recovery and help rebuild stronger communities.

“We are committed to working in collaboration with the Universities for Nottingham, alongside other local partners, across the themes of this agreement to unlock our region’s potential, grow our economy and help our local communities to thrive.”

Pioneering innovation in Nottinghamshire

The universities will also explore a range of pioneering activities to boost educational opportunities in the county, such as deploying primary and secondary trainee teachers to support students disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

Health remains a key focus for the universities as they pledge to develop a major new joint medical technology offer to business, with an ambition to make Nottinghamshire a leading destination in which to invest or establish new businesses in health and life sciences.

This builds on the collaboration between the universities on the Medical Technologies Innovation Facility project, which focuses on the development of innovative products to meet future healthcare needs.

Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Richard Mitchell said: “We are fortunate to have two strong universities in Nottingham and we welcome the opportunity to work closely with them and other organisations.

“We recognise the future is uncertain and will at times feel volatile, but we believe a shared mission to improve economic prosperity, educational opportunity, environmental sustainability, health and wellbeing and the unlocking of our universities and other organisations will enable us to help our patients, citizens and residents thrive.”

Tracy Taylor, chief executive of Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, added: “Our links with the universities in our city are longstanding, from helping to train student doctors and nurses to carrying out ground-breaking research that transforms lives.

“Our clinicians, NHS professionals and patients work with students and staff to drive continuous improvements in the region’s health and care systems.

“We’re delighted to be part of this civic agreement, further strengthening our relationship and recognising the pivotal role healthcare organisations can play in helping to improve economic prosperity and social wellbeing.”

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