Pool Innovation Centre

Plymouth University has welcomed a report that calls on the government to commit to increased spending on research and development if the UK is to close the gap upon its international competitors.

The report, University-Business Collaboration, published by the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, says that more targeted investment is needed to catch up with science and innovation spending in the United States and Germany.

Professor Wendy Purcell was one of the expert witnesses to the Select Committee, providing both written and interview evidence to the panel. It follows Professor Purcell’s involvement with the Witty Review, and her position on the Board for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Professor David Coslett, interim Vice-Chancellor of Plymouth University, welcomed the report and confirmed that the University was at the forefront of many of the activities it recommended.

Professor Coslett said:

“This is very much a reinforcement of our strategic direction. Building on previous reports such as Wilson, Witty and Young, it highlights the importance of universities as anchor institutions in stimulating economic growth and that is precisely what we, with our partners, have been doing through the Growth Acceleration and Investment Network, the Regional Growth Fund, and the Plymouth and South West Peninsula City Deal over a number of years."

The report, which has called for the government to commit to a spending figure of three per cent Gross Domestic Product by 2020 if it is to capitalise on opportunities for economic growth offered by the research excellence of UK universities, contains specific reference to the evidence provided by Professor Purcell, including insights on University Enterprise Zones and their relationship to Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).

It goes on to highlight a raft of other issues and recommendations, such as the value of universities providing a single point of contact for businesses, and their role in stimulating regional economic growth.

Professor Purcell said: 

“Plymouth University sits as the bridgehead between two LEPs — Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and Heart of the South West. Our growth acceleration investment network is now the growth hub across the two LEPs, so it spans rural and urban and brings to the table not only our skill set around research grants, but also the opportunity to access a network across a whole range of colleges and other universities. We are very much part of the LEP solution in terms of driving economic regeneration.”