Region's business growth is academic

Friday 11 June

Region's business growth is academic

ASTON UNIVERSITY has been awarded a total of �2.79 million from the higher education funding council for England (HEFCE) for the period 1 August 2004 to 31 July 2006. �1.6m of the funding will be used by Aston for its own specific projects; the remainder will be used in collaboration with other universities in the region.

Aston, which soared to 13th best university in the country in the recently published Guardian newspaper league table, will use the �1.6m to develop further its interaction with regional industry and commerce through its commercial arm, the Business Partnership Unit (BPU).

The BPU will establish the Aston Innovation Triangle (AIT) which will bring together university researchers, business leaders and regional bodies in a bid to improve the competitiveness of the region's businesses in delivering global best practice.

'The concept of the AIT is based on successful models operating in other parts of the UK and overseas and will integrate closely with the BCCI midlands business academy,' said John Bailey, director of the BPU. 'Senior staff at Aston have experience of working with other such successful initiatives and their research will provide the underpinning expertise for this venture,' he continued.

The BPU's research and knowledge of the needs of regional businesses prompted it to submit proposals to HEFCE to help develop the infrastructure and capabilities of such enterprises and continue in making Aston's expertise in engineering, life sciences, languages and business education available for the region's businesses.

'Extensive consultations have taken place with other higher education institutions, the Regional Development Agency, Aston Science Park and the West Midlands Higher Education Association as well as with the HEFCE regional consultant to ensure that the Aston institutional submission is closely linked to their agendas while focusing on the university's business-related research and teaching.'

Bailey, clearly delighted with the news from HEFCE, added: 'challenging but achievable targets have been set and mechanisms established through the BPU steering group to oversee and monitor their performance. The targets address higher education-business competitiveness and wealth creation agendas and the BPU has a track record of delivery and the ability to "hit the deck running" now funding is confirmed.'

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For further information please call 0121 204 4549 or email: b.a.l.coombes@aston.ac.uk

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