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New innovation centre will improve international problem solving

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has given the green light to a £10 million investment from its North East Investment Fund, including £8m from its Regional Growth fund allocation, to help fund the first phase of a multi-million pound world-class innovation centre to be based at Durham University.

The Centre for Innovation and Growth (CIG) is a research hub designed to foster strong innovation and growth. The early phases of this project will support research arising from the long-standing relationship between Durham University and the consumer goods giant Procter and Gamble (P&G).

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said:
“Innovation is a key driver for economic growth in the UK. This investment will help to create a world class innovation centre in the North East and provide exciting new job opportunities. Collaborative working between universities and industry is vital if we are to remain ahead in the global race for innovation and growth.”

University and industry partners will be able to work together at the CIG to co-produce innovative solutions to commercial research needs using cross- and multi-disciplinary teams.

Chair of the North East LEP, Paul Woolston, said:
“This is a significant investment from the North East LEP’s investment fund, which helps to strengthen innovation growth across the North East. The Centre for Innovation and Growth further cements the commercial relationship between Durham University and Procter & Gamble and fits very strongly with the open innovation brand that we want to ensure the North East, its universities and institutions, are known for.

“P&G is one of the world’s leaders in open innovation and the centre provides an opportunity for the company and non-competitive partners to bring problems to the North East and the North East to provide solutions. It will strengthen our reputation and branding as a problem-solving region and help to create more and better jobs.”

Future expansion of the centre is anticipated to provide an open innovation hub in which Durham University can work with a range of non-competitive industrial partners. The centre will house data handling and laboratory space and act as a catalyst to revolutionise business engagement on a local, national and international scale.

It will link together corporate business partnerships, supply chain partners, national and local businesses, partnerships with leading research groups in other universities, and government laboratories. P&G is growing its UK academic programme around Durham and a few other select UK universities.

The Centre for Innovation and Growth will be built in four distinct phases. The first investment will support a “private cloud” for data management and partnership working to expand Durham University’s facilities for open innovation.

Dr Tim Hammond, Director of Durham Business and Innovation Services at the University, said:
“The centre will foster an environment of strong innovation and growth which builds on Durham’s multi-disciplines, its ability to build teams that deliver business partners’ needs, and its proven track record of extensive open innovation over broad domains with leading open innovation exponent, Procter& Gamble.

“It will leverage Durham’s international reputation and use its very strong international business and academic partnerships to realise stronger business growth and boost the world class status of Durham science.”

Work currently being undertaken between P&G and Durham University, such as developing products to wash clothes at lower temperatures, will be applicable to many other industries worldwide. This North East centre is particularly significant because of the relationship and international standing of both Durham University and P&G.

Professor Roy Sandbach, who leads the strategic innovation strand for the North East LEP said:
“The Centre for Innovation and Growth is exactly what we need for the region, a strategic collaboration between a prestigious university and a innovation-centric corporate business partner with global reach. Our regional profile as a destination for inward innovation investment will be greatly enhanced by this initiative.

“The strategic relationship between Durham and P&G has already been brilliantly developed by both sides. Innovation delivery needs great dialogue leading to focussed programmes with shared action and clear metrics. Durham and P&G have shown everyone the way in this. I’m hoping that the new Centre will catalyse even more creative innovation, managed with efficiency and momentum and with broader collaborations. It will generate more jobs and build the open innovation brand for the region. The rest of the world will sit up and seriously consider the North East for innovation investment.”

Further information from Christine Holland, Holland PR & Marketing Ltd. Tel 01670 790246 or 07711 698246.

Home / Innovation / Page 18

Innovation experts join North East LEP

Newcastle University secondments will drive regional innovation agenda.

Two specialists from Newcastle University have been seconded to the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to drive forward the region’s innovation agenda.

Professor Michael Whitaker and Katharine Paterson are bringing their expertise to work for the North East LEP team headed by Prof Roy Sandbach. They will use their skills and contacts to boost the links between the region’s universities and businesses to fuel growth though innovation and the development of higher level skills.

Professor Whitaker is Professor of Physiology and Associate Dean of Innovation at the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Newcastle, where he works to further links between the university and the commercial sector. He is co-Director of the joint Durham/ Newcastle/NHS North East England Stem Cell Institute. He is also co-ordinator for the regional pharmaceuticals manufacturing initiative, FirstforPharma.

He will work at the North East LEP on a part time basis, co-ordinating a common approach to open innovation with the region’s universities based on industry needs both regionally and globally. Prof Whitaker’s work will particularly concentrate on opportunities in the life sciences and pharmaceuticals industry for healthcare innovation through the NHS. His new role ties in with his previous work to draw up a regional strategy for the sector, particularly around ageing, stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.

He said: “The North East is the perfect size to develop a network for innovation through an equal partnership between business and universities. We can build on already existing strengths in high value manufacturing and continue to develop exports and jobs, while also attracting companies to the region by adding to the region’s high level skills. This is an exciting opportunity for me and for the region.”

Katharine Paterson has joined the North East LEP on a full time basis until January 2015. She was seconded from her role at Newcastle University, where she was based in the Stakeholder and Funding Development team. Katharine, who has spent more than 20 years working in the region’s academic sector, also runs her own start-up business which has developed an innovative cotbed for babies and toddlers.

She said: “I was previously Director of the North East Higher Skills Pathfinder, where I engaged with all of the region’s universities and colleges, so I’m known in the universities and have insights into their needs, issues and aspirations in terms of how they can continue to support economic development, in particular through supporting innovation and the development of higher level skills that local businesses need.

“At the North East LEP, my role is to act as the voice of the universities within the LEP area, and also take the LEP’s work out to the universities, acting as a bridge and a focal point for them.”

Newcastle University’s vice chancellor Professor Chris Brink offered the two secondments to the North East LEP to strengthen the innovation team headed by former Procter & Gamble innovation leader, Professor Roy Sandbach.
Professor Sandbach, the David Goldman visiting Professor of Innovation and Enterprise at Newcastle University Business School, said: “The North East LEP is focussed on building dynamic innovation partnerships across the region and with innovation leaders everywhere. Katharine and Michael will play key roles in building these partnerships, especially between business and academia. It’s brilliant news that they are joining the team.”

North East LEP chairman, Paul Woolston, said: “We were delighted to accept Newcastle University’s very generous offer to second these two innovation experts to us.

“Michael Whitaker and Katharine Paterson have both proven abilities in the area of innovation and bring with them strong links between the academic and commercial worlds that will help to drive the North East LEP’s agenda for growth though innovation.”

Further information from Christine Holland, Holland PR & Marketing Ltd. Tel 01670 790246 or 07711 698246.

Home / Innovation / Page 18

North East LEP working with universities to drive innovation

Automotive event links businesses with academic technical experts.

Connecting automotive businesses with the expertise of four of the region’s universities to boost innovation and growth will be under the spotlight next week.

A major event staged by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) and the universities of Newcastle, Northumbria, Durham and Sunderland, is aiming to act as a catalyst for increased collaboration between industry and academics to create new investment, businesses and products.

Driving Innovation 2013, a free half-day event at Gosforth Park Marriott on October 23, will give automotive businesses the opportunity to talk about technical or developmental challenges that are putting the brakes on improvements or the creation of new products and services. Experts from the four universities will be able to provide guidance on setting up new collaborations for bespoke projects or ongoing work.

The day will showcase a number of areas where the region’s universities are leading the field in innovative automotive technology, including energy recovery, engine development, precision/micro-manufacturing, autonomous driving, electric vehicles and sensors, smart electronics, and lighting.

Keynote speaker Richard Ebrahim, who is heading production of Nissan’s new Infiniti luxury model at Sunderland, will speak at the event about the automotive industry in the region. The Japanese car giant has a successful track record of collaboration with academia in its research and development work, both in conventional vehicles and the new generation of electric cars.

The event is the first of its kind co-organised by the North East LEP to drive its North East Innovation programme.
North East LEP director Edward Twiddy, who will also address the conference, said: “Driving Innovation 2013 is a key building block to encourage universities and local businesses to work together to encourage growth, as recommended by the Witty Review carried out for the Government.

“One of our key remits is to lead innovation-driven work, and find ways to bring together applied research, academia and industry. The event also highlights how our universities are collaborating on important sectors such as the automotive industry, to share their collective expertise for the benefit of the North East economy.”

International innovator Prof Roy Sandbach, who spent three decades with global consumer products giant Procter & Gamble and who leads the North East LEP’s innovation strategy, will be at Driving Innovation.
Prof Sandbach, who is the current David Goldman visiting Professor of Innovation & Enterprise at Newcastle University Business School, said: “This is a great example of the new sense of focused collaboration that the North East LEP must foster. It really deserves active support.

“We all need to show our commitment to economic growth through collaboration across institutions, businesses and innovation agencies. This is a team game. And I am very happy that the universities are taking the lead on this. This is perfectly consistent with the strategic direction outlined in the just-published Witty report to focus on strengths and create collaborative networks with universities at the heart. We are at the front of the pack with this event.”

He said the North East LEP’s innovation strategy is now crystallising to build on innovation hubs and support networks.

“The North East LEP will build a credible outward-facing engagement with global innovation opportunities and it will develop a vibrant innovation culture through training and mentoring,” said Prof Sandbach.

“This demands cross-organisational leadership and I am confident that all the key players will step up. They have to, for the region to thrive.

“We all want this region to be recognised for innovation. It is in our DNA.”

Driving Innovation takes place on Wednesday October 23 at Gosforth Park Marriott from 8am to 1pm. To book a place, register online at www.ncl.ac.uk/sage/drivinginnovation2013 or contact Nicola Taylor, Newcastle University email: [email protected] or phone: 0191 208 5488.

The initiative is funded and supported by the North East LEP and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Further information from Christine Holland, Holland PR & Marketing Ltd. Tel 01670 790246 or 07711 698246.