The Scotsman

Ed­u­ca­tion’s role in re­cov­ery is piv­otal

Uni­ver­si­ties can de­liver sup­port for busi­nesses us­ing gov­ern­ment-funded ini­tia­tives, writes Donella Beaton

- Business · Entrepreneurship · Business Trends · Scotland · United Kingdom · Government of the United Kingdom · Scottish Government · Georgia · Georgetown University · Robert M. Gordon · Skills Development Scotland

The Covid-19 pan­demic has brought wide­spread im­pli­ca­tions for our econ­omy, dis­rupt­ing sup­ply chains, chal­leng­ing our busi­ness mod­els and threat­en­ing the very ex­is­tence of busi­nesses in some ar­eas. While the scale of the im­pact on Scot­land’ s econ­omy is still un­clear, what is clear is that we need to be do­ing all that we can to sup­port our busi­ness com­mu­nity and the work­ing pop­u­la­tion as they ad­dress th­ese crit­i­cal chal­lenges.

The piv­otal role of the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor in the re­cov­ery of the econ­omy post-covid-19 is unar­guable. Uni­ver­si­ties need to con­tinue to pro­vide the ex­cel­lence in teach­ing and re­search that they are known for and, in ad­di­tion, each cur­rently re­flect how they can most ef­fec­tively use their ex­per­tise to sup­port busi­nesses to ad­dress their more im­me­di­ate needs.

Th­ese ap­proaches must re­flect re­gional pri­or­i­ties while con­sid­er­ing sec­toral de­mands, timescales and the re­quire­ments of in­di­vid­ual com­pa­nies. This all points towards the need for a joined ap­proach to pro­vid­ing di­verse so­lu­tions, very much as­sisted by the di­ver­sity of the coun­try’s uni­ver­si­ties.

As a pro­fes­sion­ally fo­cused univer­sity, stim­u­lat­ing eco­nomic devel­op­ment is one of Robert Gor­don Univer­sity’s (RGU) strate­gic aims. By work­ing in part­ner­ship with key devel­op­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions re­gion­ally and na­tion­ally and with other uni­ver­si­ties, RGU can demon­strate its long­stand­ing com­mit­ment to work­ing towards a ro­bust and re­silient Scot­land that cel­e­brates di­ver­sity and re­duces in­equal­i­ties.

To max­imise its im­pact and en­sure rel­e­vance, a key RGU ap­proach is to align with UK Gov­ern­ment, Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment and re­gional pri­or­i­ties, and then de­liver by sup­port­ing busi­nesses to pros­per us­ing dif­fer­ent gov­ern­ment-funded ini­tia­tives.

This ap­proach has for ex­am­ple led to the univer­sity’s suc­cess in its de­liv­ery of the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s Grad­u­ate Ap­pren­tice­ships (GA) pro­gramme – now work­ing with over 200 com­pa­nies through­out Scot­land. By work­ing in part­ner­ship with Skills Devel­op­ment Scot­land, em­ploy­ers and pro­fes­sional bod­ies to pro­vide th­ese work-based learn­ing de­grees, the univer­sity has con­trib­uted to cre­at­ing stronger links be­tween in­dus­try and ed­u­ca­tion, and in do­ing so is help­ing to up­skill the work­force for the fu­ture.

RGU has taken this same work­based learn­ing and part­ner­ship ap­proach as it de­liv­ers on the Scot­tish Fund­ing Coun­cil’s (SFC) sup­port to uni­ver­si­ties for de­vel­op­ing ups killing courses and as it now starts to fur­ther de­velop its own port­fo­lio of short, flex­i­ble courses to ad­dress busi­ness needs.

RGU has also draw non gov­ern­ment- funded pro­grammes to sup­port com­pa­nies to in­no­vate to ad­dress busi­ness and ser­vice chal­lenges, and be­lieves that there is par­tic­u­lar value in us­ing th­ese proven sup­port mech­a­nisms at this time.

Ex­am­ples in­clude In­no­vate UK’S Knowl­edge Trans­fer Part­ner­ships (KTPS) pro­gramme which pro­vides ac­cess to univer­sity ex­per­tise to help busi­nesses de­velop and adapt, through the joint fund­ing of a univer­sity-sup­ported as­so­ci­ate within the com­pany. This pro­gramme has drawn the sup­port of sev­eral fund­ing agen­cies, work­ing to­gether not only to ad­dress na­tional pri­or­i­ties but also to re­spect re­gional dif­fer­ences and sec­toral needs.

RGU has worked on al­most 100 KTP projects to date, ce­ment­ing its com­mit­ment to work­ing di­rectly with com­pa­nies to help them to be more suc­cess­ful, as well as con­trib - ut­ing to the wider econ­omy. RGU’S cur­rent KTP projects come from a wide range of in­dus­tries, in­clud­ing food and drink, en­ergy, con­struc­tion, trans­port and the cre­ative in­dus­tries.

RGU also sup­ports or­gan­i­sa­tions through the In­ter­face-man­aged SFC In­no­va­tion Voucher Scheme which off sets the cost for busi­nesses to en­gage with uni­ver­si­ties or col­leges to kick-start the devel­op­ment of their prod­ucts, pro­cesses or ser­vices. This

has par­tic­u­lar rel­e­vance at this time as the vouch­ers en­able com­pa­nies to work with uni­ver­si­ties such as RGU to ad­dress their key chal­lenges on the back of Covid-19.

In the last 12 months, R GU has re­ceived the high­est num­ber of In­no­va­tion Voucher awards of any univer­sity with over 30 projects across eight sec­tors, and from com­pa­nies through­out Scot­land, demon­strat­ing the flex­i­ble na­ture of the pro­gramme and RGU’S com­mit­ment to us­ing gov­ern­ment mech­a­nisms to best sup­port com­pa­nies and the econ­omy.

R GU has also most re­cently launched its own ini­tia­tive, RGU Knowl­edge Bites for Busi­ness, to pro­vide com­pa­nies with free on­line ac­cess to rel­e­vant and cur­rent in­sights from the RGU com­mu­nity as well as in­for­ma­tion about th­ese gov­ern­ment-funded pro­grammes.

So where from here? As we face the eco­nomic chal­lenges of the fu­ture, uni­ver­si­ties will con­tinue to have a vi­tal role in sup­port­ing busi­nesses to pros­per. This will be best served when gov­ern­ment, na­tional strate­gic bod­ies and uni­ver­si­ties co­a­lesce with ap­pro­pri­ate in­vest­ment and sup­port and clear and con­sis­tent mes­sag - ing, de­liv­ered where ap­pro­pri­ate by ex­tend­ing the reach of ex­ist­ing, proven sup­port mech­a­nisms. RGU is both proud of and deeply com­mit­ted to fur­ther­ing its con­nec­tions and part­ner­ships, to play its part in en­sur­ing a col­lec­tive re­cov­ery for the good of all. Donella Beaton, As­so­ci­ate Vice Prin­ci­pal, Busi­ness and Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment, Robert Gor­don Univer­sity

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 ??  ?? 0 Uni­ver­si­ties need to con­tinue to pro­vide the ex­cel­lence in teach­ing and re­search that they are known for and, in ad­di­tion, re­flect how they can most ef­fec­tively use their ex­per­tise to sup­port busi­nesses to ad­dress their more im­me­di­ate needs
0 Uni­ver­si­ties need to con­tinue to pro­vide the ex­cel­lence in teach­ing and re­search that they are known for and, in ad­di­tion, re­flect how they can most ef­fec­tively use their ex­per­tise to sup­port busi­nesses to ad­dress their more im­me­di­ate needs

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