Knowledge Escalator receives funding approval


An initiative to encourage businesses and Higher Education institutes in Cornwall to work more closely together has been approved for more than half a million pounds worth of Convergence funding.

The investment from the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) Convergence Programme will be matched with £167k from the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA).

The £668k investment is part of a £4 million south west wide initiative – The Knowledge Escalator – that is geared towards increasing the capability and capacity of the region’s Higher Education Institutions to engage with businesses. The overall aim is to support business growth and stimulate new enterprise.

In Cornwall, The Knowledge Escalator will bring together the knowledge and expertise of University College Falmouth, the University of Exeter and the University of Plymouth, building on their partnership in the Combined Universities in Cornwall.

Knowledge Escalator has several aims including:

Increasing each Higher Education Institute’s (HEIs) capacity to respond to the needs of business

Encouraging joint working between the entire region’s HEIs 

Encouraging staff in HEIs to work with business through increased contact and training

Fostering a culture of enterprise within HEIs to engage students and staff.

With these aims specific activity will include student mentoring, a non-executive directors’ programme for senior academics; support for academic staff to work with businesses; a regional business plan competition for enterprising students and a fund to explore new ways of working with businesses.

”The award of this grant has already helped us attract an additional £300k of funding to support businesses in the county,” commented Dr Jeremy Richards, director of enterprise & innovation at University College Falmouth.  “This funding makes a real difference to our efforts to help businesses and to enable our graduates to pursue successful careers in the county during these challenging economic times.”

Carleen Kelemen, director of the Convergence Partnership Office for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “This ERDF Convergence investment is one of a raft of measures to ensure that the Combined Universities in Cornwall is geared towards economic regeneration and making it easier for businesses and academics to collaborate.”

Dr Sue Brownlow, CUC director, said: “This investment puts some welcome financial clout behind the commitment to business and enterprise which lies at the heart of the Combined Universities in Cornwall partnership. Between them the CUC partner universities and colleges have a phenomenal wealth of experts, fresh ideas and specialist equipment. The Knowledge Escalator will help make all this easier for ambitious business to tap into.”

Diana Mompoloki, head of Convergence at the South West RDA, said: “Our investment aims to cement the relationship between education and business in Cornwall to make sure that our institutions are geared to help local businesses unlock their growth potential.”


  1. I hope this project finally puts UK HEIs on a footing with their European counterparts. We take interns from universities across Europe because they are paid for by the Universities. In the UK the universities want us to pay the interns. As a small company this is not a good deal particularly as we have no guarantee the interns will be any good. If you want greater collaboration with innovative businesses and Universities then they need to sort this out and take a cue from European HEIs who don’t see themselves as doing “businesses a favour” by sending placements for work experience.

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