The Regional Economic Strategy (RES) identified HE as one of the key assets of the North West highlighting significant potential for HE engagement in the economic development of the region, specifically in improving productivity by innovation and knowledge transfer, and in developing higher level skills.
Addressing this opportunity, HE-Business engagement work at NWUA was funded by NWDA and HEFCE and aimed to facilitate HE understanding and response to regional and national priority sector needs across the research, innovation, knowledge transfer and skills agendas.
Our objectives across the skills agenda were delivered by the Higher Level Skills Partnership (HLSP)
which aims to achieve a step change in employer engagement through higher level skills brokerage and the development and delivery of new provision which meets employer demand.
This is complemented by our HE-Business Engagement programme by ensuring that the region’s HEIs are engaged – with both businesses and policy makers – beyond the skills agenda reflecting the broad contribution they can make to regional economic development.
In line with regional priorities, NWUA have been actively engaged in HE-Business Engagement work in the following sectors:
NWUA aims to be responsive to the specific needs of each sector and our activities are tailored accordingly.
However, three core lines of activity are pursued across all sectors:
Engagement with sector stakeholders
Each sector is supported by an NWUA Sector Development Manager with a remit to engage with key sector stakeholders. Typically these include the Regional Cluster Organisations (or equivalent), the NWDA Sector Leads, the Sector Skills Councils and Business Link Sector Team Leaders.
Alongside ongoing engagement, NWUA provides HE representation on the Sector Skills and Productivity Alliances (SSPAs) facilitating HE sector input into identifying and addressing the higher level skills needs of the regional sector.
NWUA is also building on its successful model of training provision to Business Link Train to Gain brokers by providing sector specific training to Business Link IDB brokers. This training is designed to ensure that brokers are aware of, and able to inform businesses about,
the research capabilities in the region’s HEIs, and the various mechanisms through which these can be accessed.
Academic Advisor Network
NWUA has established a network of Academic Advisors in each sector to provide HEIs with a route to engage in key regional activities across the priority and growth sectors. These enable NWUA to both disseminate sector specific information directly to relevant HEI staff and also to canvass opinion and consult HEIs on key sector issues. The network is briefed through the NWUA Sector Development Manager on a variety of opportunities including business engagement, sector skills needs, research, training and networking.
The Academic Advisor Network in each sector is also supplemented with an electronic network of academics and knowledge transfer professionals ensuring that information exchange occurs across all 14 North West member HEIs.
Research Capability Mapping
To better enable knowledge exchange, the research capabilities of the region’s HEIs are being mapped across each sector (for previous mapping exercises see here).
Depending on the specific requirements of each sector this will result in publication of a brochure or database of relevant HEI capabilities across the region enabling HE-business engagement intermediaries such as Business Link to better identify and promote the HE offer to business.
The Environmental Technologies database is available here.
NWUA Advisory Groups
NWUA’s Advisory Groups can also be utilised to assist when partners and
stakeholders request specific research competences and expertise within the HE
Sector. More information on the Advisory Groups can be found