Leicester supports post-COVID regional recovery

The University of Leicester is working with employers, partners and local leaders to help support post-COVID regional recovery in the East Midlands, by encouraging skills growth, create jobs and help retain expertise and knowledge within the area.

Some of the key initiatives the University is leading on include Graduate City, a project which aims to increase the percentage of graduates working in Leicester and Leicestershire after graduating, whilst the University led flagship Space Park Leicester is set to create 2,500 jobs.

As part of a new campaign to put universities at the heart of the economic and social recovery called #GettingResults, Universities UK (UUK) have highlighted the vital role that universities across the country will play in the economic recovery of their region.

UUK predict that over the next five years universities in the East Midlands will:

  • Provide support to businesses and charities worth over £870 million.
  • Train 12,000 teachers, 5,000 medics, 13,000 nurses.
  • Help 2,220 new businesses and charities to be formed.
  • Other relevant stats for the region:
  • Every university in the East Midlands provides an enquiry point for small and medium sized businesses.
  • A high proportion of the East Midlands’ Innovate UK funding is for Clean Growth & Infrastructure project.

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Leicester, said: “Our staff and students continue to play an important role in supporting our community and nation during the post COVID-19 recovery process.

“The contributions made by universities and their students through knowledge and skills exchange, entrepreneurship, partnerships and support for local employers have huge potential to help businesses, industries, and other partners to continue, recover and thrive following the pandemic.

“We must now ensure that our local employers and partners are getting the most out of what our universities can provide during this challenging process of recovery.”

 Julia Buckingham CBE, Universities UK’s President, said: “By working closely with their partners, including local government and employers, universities will play a vital role in the UK's post-recovery. Together, they can contribute significantly to future economic success and improve lives. 

“Moving forward it is important that employers fully take advantage of universities’ support and develop productive relationships so the region can bounce back stronger from the pandemic.”

The University of Leicester’s position as a leading research institution that drives innovation and growth in its local area has been recognised by Research England (RE), after the release of this year’s Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) results.

Ranked within the top 10% of UK Universities for Local Growth & Regeneration, and in the top 20% for Research Partnerships and Working with the Public & Third Sector, the University’s exemplary commitment to knowledge exchange and partnership has been showcased through its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly through its collaboration with Leicester’s Hospitals. 

The University of Leicester-led Space Park is a community of industry, academia and students, which is set to drive world-leading research, innovation and skills development in space and space-enabled sectors. It is envisaged that the space sector will become a $1trillion industry by 2040, the UK targeting 100,000 new jobs and £40bn revenue by 2030 - Space Park is set to create 2,500 jobs.

In December 2020, LENKÉ joined the European Space Agency (ESA) Business Incubation Centre UK at Leicester, receiving a €50,000 grant alongside business and technical support packages from within the University and Space Park Leicester

Dr Nkeiruka Onyia and Lensa Etefa Jotte, a recent graduate and current student of University of Leicester, realised ESA Copernicus satellite data could be used to monitor water resources and provide decision-making tools to local stakeholders, farmers and NGOs.

Combining inspiration with University expertise and funding has ensured LENKÉ’s unique innovations are primed to improve environments, lives and livelihoods globally This support will enable product piloting in Ethiopia’s Central Rift Valley Lakes leading to commercialisation of their product by the end of their incubation.

To help promote Leicester as a destination of choice for graduating students, the Graduate City project was set up with the aim of retaining expertise and knowledge in the area and addressing students’ skills gaps by creating partnerships with local businesses and helping them access the talent they need. Funded by a £1.6m European Social Fund grant, the project will support 96 SMEs and 72 middle year students through an internship programme. 

The University of Leicester is committed to inclusive education. Since the age of 13, Harry Dudson was the sole carer for his mother who lives with a severe mental health condition. Although this created many challenges throughout school and college, thanks to philanthropic support, he became the first member of his family to enter HE. The Medicine with Foundation degree at Leicester provided Harry with ‘a fantastic opportunity’ and has been transformative. Medicine inspired Harry to become much more involved in outreach and encouraging others from a Widening Participation background to consider a career in Medicine.

Find out more about Universities UK’s #GettingResults campaign at www.universitiesuk.ac.uk.