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University - Industry Collaborations Will Create Jobs Of Tomorrow

3 March 2010

Collaborations between academia and businesses will drive future economic growth and generate additional revenue for universities, according to the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA).

In support of the Government’s ‘Going for Growth: Our Future Prosperity’ programme, SEEDA held a roundtable with Regional Minister, Jonathan Shaw MP, to explore the role that higher education institutions can play in fostering economic growth.

Representatives from 12 universities throughout the region agreed that the South East must concentrate on its key strengths to provide a world class offer in high growth business sectors, and that a strong university-industry-government relationship is vital to bring bright ideas to market.

As Robert Crawford, Group Executive Director of Operations at SEEDA, comments: “The South East has a world-class knowledge base within its universities so it is vital that businesses tap into this in order to maintain global competitiveness and help create the jobs of tomorrow. Commercialising knowledge through effectively linking academia with business will deliver innovative practice, enable businesses to benefit from specialist skills and provide a catalyst for sustainable economic growth throughout the region.”

SEEDA guidance has already resulted in 735 internships across 10 South East universities, as part of the Government’s £13.6m Backing Young Britain fund to provide internships to small businesses. The University of Sussex in partnership with Wired Sussex, which provides business support for digital media companies throughout the county, has created 175 internships alone.

The campaign aims to simultaneously help small businesses through the recession by providing them with specialist skills and enable recent graduates to apply their knowledge in a commercial environment.

Phil Jones, Chief Executive at Wired Sussex, says: "A good internship programme can really help businesses engage successfully with new graduate talent and benefit from the value that this talent can deliver. Such schemes are particularly useful to smaller businesses that may be more wary of the risks involved with employing those with no experience. They also solve the graduates' dilemma of not being able to get a job without experience, whilst not being able to get experience without a job.”

Professor Julian Crampton, Vice Chancellor for the University of Brighton, and Chair of Higher Education South East, which promotes all higher education institutions in the South East region, adds: "Through the region’s internship programmes universities are able to offer talented and enthusiastic graduates to employers across the South East. We see these as an integral part of our employability strategy that has a commitment not just to existing students but those who have graduated as well.”

South East Regional Minister Jonathan Shaw concludes: "Universities are quite rightly at the heart of the Government's economic strategy. I hope that Higher Education Institutions will work closely with RDAs on issues such as high level skills and knowledge transfer, which would benefit the South East economy through commercialisation of our research excellence.

"The skills agenda is one of my top priorities. I welcome initiatives such as the work of the University of Sussex alongside Wired Sussex and would like to see more collaboration between universities and businesses to ensure that our graduates develop the skills that businesses need. Universities in the South East have an excellent track record in generating spin-out companies from their research work and we must continue to grow these companies into national and international success stories in order to generate added value in this region."

For more information on internship opportunities within the South East please visit For more information on SEEDA please visit

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