Yesterday, Science Minister Sam Gyimah detailed the UK’s biggest increase in public R&D expenditure in 40 years. The targeted funding set out across the pages of the Allocations Booklet is a critical signal of national intent to lead from the front and catalyse private sector investment. It is clear that the National Centre’s agenda has never been more prominent, the opportunities never more pronounced – and the challenges rarely more complex.
It is in this context – in which the need to more effectively entwine our vibrant research base and resourceful industrial base is recognised at the highest levels of Government – that I am delighted and honoured to announce that I have taken over as Chief Executive of NCUB.
With Government’s Industrial Strategy in the throes of delivery, sector deals coalescing, the unique qualities of places to be exploited and a cohort of graduates to prepare for the industries of the future: we are confronted by issues which only the potent alliance of higher education and innovative business can address. And in the context of the prevailing uncertainties around Brexit, building resilience is a pressing and critical need.
I am enthused by the challenges of leading the organisation at such an inflection point. It can be argued that never before have strong links between knowledge and industry been so critical to our economy. The National Centre for Universities and Business has always sought to inhabit the vanguard of collaborative activity. Through sharing the experiences of our members, convening thought leadership around policy developments and advising Government, we have worked to add value to deliberations across the piece.
Now, through partnering with and learning from experts across the ecosystem, it’s time to do even more. The team and I are crafting a programme of work bridging strategic themes across skills and talent development as well as research and innovation. Student resilience and wellbeing, social mobility, leveraging university-business collaboration to raise total R&D investment in the UK to and beyond 2.4% of GDP, and further driving knowledge exchange: these topics all sit at the heart of our modern collaborative world. We will be publicising our ambitions and forward plan across these themes in the coming weeks. And your inputs, insights and views as we move forward will be of immeasurable worth.
Sat behind all of this work will be a singular motivation which characterises the National Centre. We want to ensure the needs and voices of our members are heard. Only through mining your experiences and insights will we be able to work together to build practical, applied solutions to the challenges we all face; to make clear-sighted recommendations to policymakers; and to forge ever-stronger links between research, industry, the third sector and beyond.
I am excited to work with you all in pursuit of these goals. And I know that if we can fully realise the ambitions we all share for the future of university-business collaboration, the effect on our economy and society will be truly transformative.
By Dr Joe Marshall, NCUB CEO