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Lancaster University- how Blackpool-based businesses can profit from the ‘UK Top 10’ university

Blackpool, the North West and beyond, Blackpool - The Place for Business talk industry-academia collaborations with Ian Wright from the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation at Lancaster University.

A conduit for business collaboration

The Centre for Global Eco-Innovation (CGEI) is one of many initiatives Lancaster University uses to connect academia with local businesses.

“Its remit is largely R&D for clean and sustainable growth, sustainable development and low carbon outcomes,” says Ian, who plays a primary role in making business connections.

CGEI is a stand-alone unit within the university’s Environment Centre that introduces SMEs from the Blackpool area and the wider North West to the university, so they can access expertise and technical support from staff and students.

“Sometimes the interventions are short and self-contained, such as internships, while others are more long-term. The Centre supports 3-year PhD projects where students are embedded in a business working on their doctoral project.”

High-calibre students, world-class academics

Thanks to the university’s standing – it’s one of the UK’s top 10 and has been for some years – the quality of the student talent available to local businesses is very high, with both graduates and undergraduates hailing from all over the world.

“Lancaster started to climb the charts in the 2000s and now we’re up there with Durham and Cambridge,” says Ian, himself a Lancaster graduate. “It means we attract students of a very high calibre, and world-class academics too.”

“Reaching that level once is easier than maintaining your status,” reflects Ian, “and Lancaster’s biggest achievement isn’t getting into the top 10 but staying there. It’s always investing and always changing.”

Recent developments include a multi-million-pound extension to the Management School, and the forthcoming Health Innovation Campus.

“We’re always looking to progress and identify where we can expand our influence and base,” says Ian. “We have a campus in China, one in West Africa and have just confirmed that there will be another one in Leipzig, Germany.”

Connected to the community

Despite its international reach, Lancaster University is firmly rooted in the local area. “One of the university’s strengths is that it’s well thought of in the local community and actively reaches out,” says Ian. “It has a ‘one Lancaster’ approach – making its facilities available to people locally.”

“You might assume that academics and professors mainly teach, but they’re out there a lot working in various industries,” says Ian. “They often come to me with ideas for working with businesses they’ve encountered.”

Powering links to the energy sector

“There’s definitely an energy hotspot in the Blackpool and Fylde coast area,” says Ian, “especially offshore renewable energy generation in the Irish Sea.”

Ian was a key partner in Blackpool Airport-based Helispeed’s offshore renewables project, enabling wind turbine blades to be inspected for damage via helicopter.

“Helispeed are very local,” says Ian, “but the issues they’re working on are potentially global. 15% of the UK’s power currently comes from wind and that’s only going to increase.”

The Blackpool advantage for businesses

“Looking at a map of the North West, Blackpool and the Fylde is slap bang in the middle,” says Ian. “It’s got easy access to London and it’s close to major conurbations like Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield. The forthcoming Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute will be just down the road. And of course,” he adds, “it’s a nice place to live and a healthy environment for families.”

“It doesn’t matter where you are in the world any more when it comes to work. And if you can be based anywhere, why not choose somewhere nice?” For more information on why Blackpool and the North West might be the best place for your next business move, download the Business Location Guide

Article provided by Blackpool - The Place for Business