Higher values

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Dr Sue Brownlow, director of the Combined Universities in Cornwall, explains how higher education is working hand in hand with local businesses to drive forward innovation

How can I get my people to have the right know-how, skills and attitude to drive my business forward? Where can I get help with engineering, design and prototyping for a new product idea, to cut production costs and open up new markets?

I think my business could really go places if we knew more about how to use e-marketing to get at new customers, but we don’t have anyone with the right expertise. I think there’s an opportunity to develop a new technological approach to our industry, but how can I get access to the top flight research and equipment I need without the expense of bringing it all in-house?

I can see the business opportunities that will come through the low carbon economy but how can I get people with the right skills on board? Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) has come a long way in the last few years. One of its founding aims was that by creating a local university level education base in Cornwall, business in the county would benefit from having access to skilled graduates, training, research and facilities.

This concept is now becoming a reality, and there are real examples behind the questions above where higher education is working with business in the county to drive innovation, performance and profit.

The universities and colleges in the CUC partnership have long-standing relationships with thousands of businesses in the county, ranging from the smallest owner-managed start-ups to some of our biggest and most successful corporates.

On offer is core expertise in research and skills development, and an easy way into finding graduate-level people for anything from a short-term project to a substantial piece of collaborative research or permanent recruitment in fields such as environmental technologies, design, digital media, toxicology and agrifood to name just a few.

Since CUC was established ten years ago there has also been tremendous investment in state of the art facilities, including media studios, laboratories and advanced specialist kit, bought principally to support teaching and research but also available wherever possible to support the needs of business.

Universities and colleges don’t compete with the main providers of business support and consultancy, but what we do offer is a long-term relationship to help the development and growth

of businesses through our particular expertise in skills development and specialist know-how.

As investment in more new centres of excellence comes through the Convergence programme – in the creative arts, in digital media and design, in enterprise and innovation, in the environment and

sustainability and in health – our capacity will grow further. It’s not by accident that these areas mirror the sectors in which Cornish businesses have real growth opportunities over the next few years.

All the Universities and Colleges working in Cornwall are keen to work more closely with business and, either directly or through the Combined Universities in Cornwall team, to explore the opportunities to help one another prosper. The universities and colleges in the Combined Universities in Cornwall partnership are: University of Exeter, University of Plymouth, University College Falmouth, Peninsula College of Medicine & Dentistry, Cornwall College and Truro & Penwith College.

Tel: 01209 721077