Dr Mark Bacon, Director of Research, Innovation and Engagement explains how the past few years have been significant for Keele University and its support of the business community in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.

Highlights include the launch of the New Keele Deal, our collaborative programme aiming to create 700 high-value jobs and support 1,000 businesses across the local area, and the introduction of our Business Gateway portal as a ‘one stop shop’ for local SMEs to access the University’s resources and expertise. Regionally, we’ve also become part of the Midlands Innovation partnership, a network of eight researchintensive universities working together to drive and support innovation and growth across the Midlands.

The New Keele Deal, officially announced in January 2017, sees Keele University working in partnership with key local partners – Staffordshire County Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust – to deliver a unique programme of business support, development and growth within the local area.

The collaboration is supporting businesses to access the University’s world-class research and facilities, providing training in innovation leadership and facilitating supply chain development across a range of sectors. Collectively, the New Keele Deal will assist businesses to become more competitive, produce better products and improve their overall services to their customers.

Through a range of innovative business support programmes, the New Keele Deal will enable the University to extend its already considerable impact on the local economy by contributing an extra £210m into the local area. Coupled with our involvement in the Midlands Innovation partnership, this economic impact will increase even further over the coming years.

In addition to providing enhanced local business support opportunities, the New Keele Deal aims to improve health care in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire through the development of new health innovations and research designed to improve the diagnosis, treatment and management of health conditions.

The Deal will also position the area at the heart of the country’s transition towards a lower carbon economy through the establishment of the Smart Energy Network Demonstrator – Europe’s only at-scale living laboratory that will be used to trial and test new energy technologies.

These programmes will have an impact throughout Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire for the next 20 years and beyond. They are an investment in the growth of the local economy, helping our local businesses to develop, grow and prosper.

A number of programmes available through the New Keele Deal and Business Gateway are part-funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the England 2014 to 2020 European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Growth Programme.

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Published: 5 October 2018

This article first appeared in the 2018 State of the Relationship report, commissioned by Research England and compiled and published by NCUB.