Four of Bath and North East Somerset’s key civic institutions have signed an agreement to work more closely together for the benefit of their home region.

The leaders of the University of Bath, Bath Spa University, Bath & North East Somerset Council and the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust signed the Future Ambition Civic Agreement on May 30, after working over several years to develop effective ways to meaningfully collaborate.

As “anchor institutions” in the region, all four are large organisations with a significant stake in the long-term development and health of their local areas. The agreement commits the four institutions to collaborate and address key challenges and opportunities for the region to help its communities thrive, as well as learning from each other to continuously improve how they operate. The agreement partners will work closely with other institutions, organisations and communities within Bath and North East Somerset to help fulfil the area’s ambitions.

Professor Ian White, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bath, said: “I am delighted that the four key partners, which are anchor institutions in our home region and between them have 11,900 staff living and working locally, have been able to come together to sign this important agreement which means we can offer more to our home region by working in partnership.

“The Future Ambition Civic Agreement deliberately looks to the future. We have often worked together but in recent years we have individually and jointly responded to the collective impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate and ecological emergency, the cost of living crisis, and the inequalities that these challenges have shone a light on.”

The agreement partners will target four ways to improve the wellbeing of the region, through their collaborations, behaviours, mobilisation of staff and how they make and deliver products, services and facilities.

They will do so with five key themes in mind, including working to ensure opportunity for all, the development of digital infrastructure, a focus on climate and nature preservation, developing a sense of community through supporting creativity and culture, and driving sustainable growth through inclusive innovation. Work on these themes will be supported by the already-existing Future Ambition Board through which experts in each sector are engaged and contribute to developing understanding and solutions to regional challenges.

Councillor Kevin Guy, leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “This is a significant milestone for our civic institutions here in Bath and North East Somerset, working together through our Future Ambition Board. Collaboration and partnership working is central to the delivery of our one Shared Vision of being a Fair, Green, Creative and Connected area. This is why I was pleased when the cabinet fully endorsed the new Economic Strategy for the area in February which all our partners are committed to deliver.

“I am proud of the contributions that our two universities and hospital make to our community and of the joint working we have undertaken so far. There is much to build on already, with shared projects ranging from our well-established Student Community Partnership to the recent Key Cities’ Civic Partners in Net Zero case study on sustainable construction. We look forward to deepening our relations in the future for the benefit of our communities, our local economy and our environment.”

Cara Charles-Barks, RUH Chief Executive, said: “Our RUH ‘You Matter’ strategy makes a strong commitment to the people in our community, and to make Bath one of the healthiest places to live and work. We are proud to have entered into this agreement with our fellow Anchor Institutions, which will help us deliver on this promise: through collaboration, we can better understand the needs and wants of our people, and I look forward to working together to deliver the changes needed to improve the lives of local people.”

Professor Andy Salmon, Pro Vice-Chancellor External Affairs at Bath Spa University, said: “Creating a sustainable future enabling culture takes all of us. The challenges we face and the opportunities they present are complex and interwoven. Health, education, economic and social thriving are interdependent; it is essential therefore to work together across arts, science, commerce, care, enterprise, and community. The Civic Agreement is license for all of us to dissolve unhelpful boundaries.”

The agreement was officially launched at an event at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (BRLSI) in Queen’s Square Bath on May 30th, attended by representatives of private, public and third sector organisations, big and small, from across the region. Guests found out how the Future Ambition Civic University partners already work together, including contributions to projects such as the Student Community Partnership, Bath and North East Somerset Economic Partnership, the FWD project and Bath Unlimited. Leaders of each of the organisations joined a panel to speak about their journey in developing this agreement, the learning on the way, and how the processes that have been put in place will support collaborative working across the region into the future.