A new European-funded project has been launched today to look at how different models of higher education can benefit regional economic development.
UNICREDS, which is being led by Cornwall Council, is a €2 million three-year scheme which aims to demonstrate how collaboration between universities, industry and the public sector can help transform deprived or peripheral regions into centres of excellence in research and innovation.
Partners will share knowledge and experiences with a view to driving forward economic development and ultimately to develop a transferable model for future education and regional development programmes that can be adopted by the European Commission.
More than 50 delegates attended the UNICREDS launch event at New County Hall in Truro, which was opened by Alec Robertson, Leader of Cornwall Council. In addition to presentations from each of the UNICREDS partners, speakers included Dr Denis Gartside of University College Falmouth; Carolyn Rule, Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, Cornwall Council; Nicolas Wallet, Project Manager for UNICREDS; Zoltán Karácsonyi, Director of Centre for Environmental Management and Policy at the University of Debrecen, Hungary.
During her introduction to UNICREDS, the Council’s cabinet member for economy and regeneration, Carolyn Rule, said: “UNICREDS is all about sharing information between European countries to help drive forward the role of universities in boosting regional economies. It is an exciting and important programme for both Cornwall and Europe.”
Commenting on what the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) hopes to learn during the UNICREDS project, Dr Sue Brownlow, CUC Director, said: “Thanks to EU investment through Objective one and Convergence, Cornwall has pioneered a radical new approach to university education over the past decade, with the specific aim of using higher education to drive economic regeneration.
“We have learned a great deal along the way, but we are still navigating uncharted territory, so the opportunity to look in detail at how others have tackled similar challenges is very welcome. I am particularly looking forward to sharing experiences of how universities and colleges can play a key role in supporting small businesses, which is an area where we have made progress but would like to achieve far more.”