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The Knowledge West consortium

Press Release - 08 March 2005

New gateway to knowledge opens in the West

Six West of England universities have joined forces with Business West to set up a new ‘gateway’ offering easier access to world-class knowledge for businesses and industries in the region.

The new centre, called Knowledge West, is being launched today at the University of the West of England, and aims to help businesses in the region tackle the challenges of competing in the global economy. The Knowledge West consortium – the universities of Bath, Bristol, Gloucestershire, West of England, Bath Spa University College and the Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester, together with Business West – will together offer a local gateway to world-class expertise.

The initiative is one of the new national Centres of Excellence in Knowledge Exchange funded by the government.

Neils Gedge, Director of Knowledge West, said, “By combining the firepower of our local Universities in this way, Knowledge West will help businesses – whether small, medium or prime – to tackle challenges such as e-procurement and to help encourage smaller businesses to use technology to participate in large procurement contracts with the NHS, Bristol City Council, Rolls Royce and the MOD.

“We will also concentrate on helping technology and innovation industries in the West, such as aerospace and creative media.”

According to a recent Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) report, innovation is a key factor in safeguarding and providing high quality jobs, encouraging successful businesses and more environmentally friendly processes.

It acknowledges the threat faced by British-based manufacturing companies from developing economies, but points out that advances in science and technology offer many opportunities, with high-tech industries outperforming the economy as a whole during the last ten years.

Phil Merrick, from the University of Bath's Research and Innovation Services, said, "The University has an important role to play in the future economic well being of the South West region by commercialising our extensive research expertise. This is therefore an important strategic partnership as we continue to develop our knowledge transfer activities in the area."

The West of England, particularly the area surrounding the M4/M5 interchange, is one of high economic performance, and is home to a range of large industrial organisations of national and world importance. A high proportion of the workforce is educated to degree level (27%), and over one quarter of jobs (130,000) is in knowledge-based industries.

Knowledge West aims to contribute to the growth of this knowledge-based economy and to help attract new innovative businesses to the area.

Services on offer at the centre will include support in getting included in bids for research funds, access to the right academic expertise, and access to business networks for knowledge-based innovation and best practice. This will include a service to source potential non-executive directors for smaller or medium sized businesses.

The centre will initially be based at the University of the West of England. Eventually, it will be one of the first occupants of the new Science Park, to be constructed at Emerson’s Green.


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