Posted Tuesday 2 February 2021
Kingston University is set to share the talents and expertise of its staff and students, research expertise and specialist facilities as part of a new programme of support for businesses across South London.
BIG (Business, Innovation and Growth) in South London has been launched at a leadership summit attended by the vice-chancellors of partner universities and leaders of partner borough councils, with former Universities Minister Chris Skidmore MP as the keynote speaker.
Kingston is one of six universities involved in the pioneering programme which encourages collaboration between universities and businesses to promote economic growth, innovation and recovery in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The programme will encourage businesses to tap into the world-class research and innovation expertise, professional short courses, student and researcher business placements and access to specialist facilities at the University and partner higher education institutions. It is supported by £6 million of funding from the London Business Rates Retention Scheme.
Addressing the summit, Mr Skidmore described the programme as an exciting step change. "A step change that has the promise of strengthening not just the South London region and its economy, but your own institutions in turn," he said.
As part of the initiative, businesses can apply for a £5,000 Open Innovation Voucher, a competitive grant scheme, to work with one of the universities on a defined project, such as developing a new, or improving an existing, product.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Spier, who attended the leadership summit, said Kingston University was enthusiastic about being its commitment to the programme. "The pandemic has highlighted the role that universities can play in their regions and their economies, and anything this programme can do to make it easier for business to work with universities is very welcome," said Professor Spier.
"Kingston University is incredibly proud to be involved in this ambitious and exciting initiative and we look forward to working with local businesses to help rebuild our local economy and communities," he added.
"As a university, we are well placed to support our local business community with a wealth of student and staff talent, academic and research expertise, and specialist facilities, and I urge our local businesses to make the most of what Kingston University has to offer."
The University already performs a strong civic role with a number of innovative programmes that help local business and will build on this as a partner in BIG in South London.
The University was instrumental in developing the BIG programme and is working in partnership with the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames to develop a borough-specific programme aligned to the council's economic and regeneration priorities. As well as a collaborative partnership with all boroughs in south London, the University has an especially strong relationship with its home borough, exemplified through its work on re-imagining the town centre and its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The launch of Big in South London was announced at the leadership summit by Councillor Gareth Roberts, leader of Richmond Council and chair of the South London Partnership, a sub-regional collaboration of five London boroughs – Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Richmond upon Thames, and Sutton.
The six universities involved in the BIG programme are Kingston University, Roehampton University, Wimbledon College of Arts, St Mary's University, London South Bank University and Sussex Innovation Centre.