Universities: the hub and spoke in UK innovation

Thursday, 02 June 2016

University Alliance logo

University Alliance have today (2 June) released a new report calling for greater acknowledgment of the contribution of universities to UK innovation.

The report, Creating Innovative Regions: The role of universities in local growth and productivity finds that the contribution universities make to UK innovation goes deeper than is generally acknowledged and must be better exploited by Government.

It champions the city of Oxford as a “leading example of multi-university and Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) collaboration driving regional innovation capacity and economic growth.”

A wide range of activities taking place across Alliance universities to boost innovation are highlighted, including at Oxford Brookes.

One such activity is the University’s recent collaboration with the Bamboo Bicycle Club in April to build the world’s first ever bamboo and 3D printed lugs bicycle at London’s Design Museum. This is one of 16 case studies which make up University Alliance’s new report.

Oxford Brookes is very proud of its commitment to sustainability and recognises the environment is at the heart of what it does whilst delivering on social and economic dimensions.

Dr Shpend Gerguri, Senior Lecturer in Engineering Design, Oxford Brookes University

Oxford Brookes first found success with bamboo bikes back in 2011, developing the first-UK built mountain bike made out of bamboo. Academics Dr Shpend Gerguri and Dr James Broughton from the University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (MEMS), along with undergraduate and postgraduate engineering students, developed a bicycle frame that capitalises on the vibration damping and strength properties of bamboo and other natural fibres. It is a great example of Brookes’ focus on sustainable engineering with a practical application.

Dr Shpend Gerguri said: “Oxford Brookes is very proud of its commitment to sustainability and recognises the environment is at the heart of what it does whilst delivering on social and economic dimensions. Uniquely, it shows how integrating engineering principles with nature can deliver an exciting and affordable product without consuming the Earth’s valuable resources.”

Bamboo bike

In today’s report, University Alliance also highlight the close collaboration between Oxford Brookes, the University of Oxford and the LEP as an example of a “highly-integrated approach to innovation”, particularly involvement in Venturefest Oxford.

The first of its kind, Venturefest Oxford has been running for almost 20 years and provides a gateway for entrepreneurs and innovators to connect. Taking place at the end of this month (29 June) at the Kings Centre in Oxford, it is a unique opportunity to bring investors and entrepreneurs, academics and support services together to share experience and knowledge, seek finance and forge strategic alliances.

Oxford Brookes is a proud supporter of the programme and Vice-Chancellor Professor Alistair Fitt is a Board Member.

Maddalaine Ansell, University Alliance Chief Executive, said; “Universities do more than bring the odd bit of research into the commercial sector. The scale of entrepreneurial activity on today’s campuses is a powerful catalyst for jobs, growth and productivity in our regions. For cash-strapped SMEs with growth potential, a local university will often be the best place for advice, guidance and support."

The report is the third in a series of University Alliance publications this year, that feature Oxford Brookes, and focus on the leadership role of universities as anchor institutions in cities and regions, working within wider ecosystems and responding to common real-world challenges in an enterprising, innovative and creative way.