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Developing country's young talents vital to borough's growth, Kingston University Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Spier tells Kingston Futures conference

Posted Monday 3 July 2017

Developing country's young talents vital to borough's growth, Kingston University Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Spier tells Kingston Futures conference

Continuing to forge strong links with local businesses, community groups and the council was key to developing the country's brightest young talents and then keeping them in the area, according to Kingston University Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Spier.

Speaking at the second annual Kingston Futures conference at the borough's Rose Theatre, Professor Spier outlined the role the University can play in the regeneration and growth of Kingston-upon-Thames to ensure it continues to be a leading London destination to visit, work and study in.

Business leaders, councillors and other trustees have come together to form Kingston Futures, an investment programme that seeks to boost the borough's long-term economic development. The annual conference sees key stakeholders meet to discuss how they can work together to take the town forward.

Professor Spier was invited to speak on two separate panels, discussing the role that culture should play in Kingston's growth and also how the borough can attract and retain ‘high-flyers'.

Addressing delegates, he outlined the importance of keeping talented students in the local area once they graduate, highlighting how building on the existing strong relationships with the council could be of benefit to budding young entrepreneurs.

"We are immensely proud to be a University in the Royal Borough of Kingston, in what is a highly attractive place to work and live and play," Professor Spier said. "I strongly believe in the positive impact Kingston University has on the community through attracting students from all over the world, allowing creativity to thrive and playing an active role in supporting their business start-up ventures.

"They are, after all, the business leaders and professionals of tomorrow. Establishing close links to local companies, trusts and councillors is paramount to achieving mutual success and developing young talent in the area."

Following the event, Professor Spier spoke of how bringing together key stakeholders from across the borough was a great way of sharing ideas and learning more about how the organisations could better work together.

"As a major employer, events like the Kingston Futures Conference help us to show others what the university has to offer to the area," he said. "On the other hand, we can learn a great deal from what local businesses and Kingston Council have to say and must leverage the benefits that we can bring to each other to build a bright future for the whole borough."

Chief executive of the Kingston First business improvement district (BID), Kirsten Henly, said that the University's contribution to the local economy was invaluable to the town's businesses.

"Students provide so much of the vibrancy and form a considerable part of the population of the area, and will ultimately go on to be the employees of Kingston," she said. "We have an opportunity to ensure and contribute to the continued positive development in the borough and, from a business perspective, students will need to be right at the heart of this too."

The latest Higher Education Business and Community Interaction Survey placed Kingston University as one of the top institutions in the country for graduate start-ups for the eighth year running. In 2016 alone, the University helped 289 students and graduates get their companies off the ground and continued to support graduate entrepreneurs with a business incubation programme called the Kingston Nest.

The University also runs an award-winning outreach programme, and regularly visits schools and colleges across London and the South East to introduce the concepts of higher education widening access to those who might not have previously considered it as an option.

Helping support Kingston University graduates to set up businesses in the local area was an example of how the University and local authority could work together to benefit the borough's economy, according to Viv Evans, Head of Planning and Regeneration at Kingston Council.

"Kingston University consistently produces one of the highest numbers of graduate start-ups in the United Kingdom, and it is important we nurture this young talent and keep it in the borough through incubation and start-up business support programmes," he said. "The Kingston Futures programme has been established to support economic growth and appropriate development in our borough, and our conference aimed to draw the stakeholders of growth together to help define our vision."

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