Academic travel support programme

The Heart of England Inward Investment team (HEIIT) which is part of Advantage West Midlands, has announced the launch of an Academic Ambassadors Programme and associated Academic Travel Support Programme and it could benefit academics here at Aston University.

These two new programmes are intended to support international activity and to make the best possible use of an academic visitor’s presence in an overseas market.

Over the next three years, HEIIT wants to work with academics who are involved in world-leading research, who have a track record of working with commercial partners, who have a global outlook and these attributes will be combined with a willingness and ability to help promote the broader regional agenda. There is potential to:

  • Make funding available to support overseas visits and activities that might not otherwise be possible through lack of resources

  • Work more closely with academics making overseas visits to ensure that additional regional benefits are gained

  • Promote an in-depth understanding of the region’s strengths, capabilities, skills and leading edge research and technology development

  • Facilitate dialogue with companies and potential investors in their home markets and promote the benefits and opportunities that exist to do business with and in the West Midlands region

  • Help to develop an extensive network of contacts within markets who can assist with the development of international business connections.

A substantial budget has been allocated for the academic travel support programme and will be available to individuals and groups of academics from January 2010 onwards, with a focus on visits that are consistent with Advantage West Midlands’s (AWM) inward investment agenda:

  • Automotive; R&D, low carbon vehicle technologies, niche vehicles, Intelligent Transport Systems/Telematics and advanced materials

  • Aerospace; Power systems, technology providers and advanced materials

  • Building Technologies; especially off-site/modular manufacturing

  • Environmental Technologies; especially waste to energy, power and renewable energy

  • ICT; Digital media, systems integrators, games/serious games, photonics

  • Events/activities offering structured opportunities to meet with representatives of prospective investors/technology partners (e.g. pre-arranged, brokered one-to-one sessions)

  • Events/activities with significant numbers of relevant delegates/participants and good informal networking opportunities

  • Innovative proposals that offer unique opportunities to engage with companies and representative organisations, especially those which demonstrate partnership working.

Where agreed, support will usually take the form of a contribution (not exceeding 50%) towards economy class flights and accommodation costs. Any offers of assistance will be made in a formal letter. All offers of support will be discretionary.

To ensure that each overseas activity has appropriate support before and during the visit, and that appropriate reporting and follow-up activity is carried out, a simple event/activity plan will be required for each visit, stating expected outcomes and a date for reviewing them on return. HEIIT will be working with universities to build a list of suitable academics and to support a number of visits each month.

What is the ‘inward investment’ role of Advantage West Midlands (AWM)?

AWM is the Regional Development Agency for the West Midlands region and has a significant role in attracting foreign direct investment or inward investment into the West Midlands region, which is branded as ‘The Heart of England, the West Midlands Region’ in overseas markets. Further details.

How does AWM work overseas?

AWM has overseas representation in a number of countries that are key markets for attracting investment into the UK and the region. The main role of these representatives is to develop local networks of contacts, co-ordinate business development activities and generate inward investment leads in-market.

How does the Academic Travel Support Programme benefit you?

The opportunity to work with and through AWM’s international team to promote Aston University and our capabilities in our overseas target markets, with potential business and research partners and other key intermediaries.

Further information or requests for academic travel support should be made to:

Richard England, International Investment Manager, Inward Investment Team, Advantage West Midlands: richardengland@advantagewm.co.uk, 0121 380 3639 or 07879 600778

Please let Julie Kaul, Administrative Assistant in Aston’s International Office know if you are applying for this scheme: j.kaul@aston.ac.uk or ext 4465.

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