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24 June 2019

Dorset needs to make it's mark - John Vinney

Bold actions, innovation, collaboration and connection must be at the heart of Dorset’s Local Industrial Strategy

Bold actions, innovation, collaboration and connection must be at the heart of Dorset’s Local Industrial Strategy

- John Vinney, Vice-Chancellor at Bournemouth University

Behind every great region lies a great university. Here in Dorset, Bournemouth University generates over £1 million a day in economic activity for South-West England. Yet, there is no room for complacency with increased global competition, Brexit and looming uncertainty over student funding. That’s why we are keen to influence the development of Dorset’s Local Industrial Strategy – it provides a unique opportunity for us to inform the context for our economic, social and cultural impact.

'Place' is one of the five foundations of the national Industrial Strategy and our LIS response must reflect these unique characteristics. Dorset has a unique and divergent urban and rural geography. It is crucial to understanding the opportunities and full potential of our region, and how it can contribute to the rest of the UK. Bournemouth University plays a leading role in terms of contributing human capital, research and innovation, and we engage in different ways across the different places in Dorset, regionally, nationally and world-wide.

Our county needs a step change in terms of its ambition, outlook and actions. We need to shift up a gear, leveraging our collective expertise. The Dorset Chamber of Commerce, BU and Dorset LEP are working together to galvanise support around key themes. At BU, our 2025 vision is to be recognised worldwide as a leading university for inspiring learning, advancing knowledge and enriching society through the Fusion of education, research and practice. We have also defined four key areas we’re investing in over the next seven years, working with partners regionally to develop these areas alongside our existing strengths in areas such as media and communications, health and social care, business and management and design and engineering. These four areas are:

  1. Medical sciences - we have already established a strong base in medical sciences. Dorset LEP funding has supported our Orthopaedic Research Institute, which has attracted millions of pounds of investment and is a cornerstone of our medical sciences provision. We are now advancing into medical visualisation with a range of partners, locally and internationally. We have a growing portfolio of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in medical sciences, building on our existing strong relationships with Dorset’s NHS and healthcare providers.
  2. Animation, simulation and visualisation – we provide world-class visual effects and animation programmes and are recognised worldwide for our pioneering work in this area.  Bournemouth and Poole are noted as one of the UK’s top areas for high growth digital businesses, and Dorset is in a strong position to build up a critical mass of high-growth digital companies creating more opportunities for graduates to stay and work in Dorset. Our focus is on leveraging the whole ecosystem within BU so that we link up academic staff, students, businesses and the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership in the strategic thinking around growth opportunities in this sector.
  3. Assistive technology – we are building specific expertise in this area, which is closely linked to medical sciences and animation and visualisation. Dorset has a unique demographic and can function as a living laboratory for ways to support people in living longer and retaining their quality of life. Our plans for assistive technology also include projects that will enhance quality of life for everyone.
  4. Sustainability and low carbon technology - we are leading thinking on sustainable social, environmental and economic growth and development. This area has never been more important. We are proud of the work that we do at BU to ensure sustainability is built into everything that we do, from our estates to our curriculum. Our academic staff are working on a range of innovative technology and environmental projects, including many here in Dorset, having a direct impact in this area.

Our ambitious investment plans will provide more opportunities for us to work across disciplines and will attract world class talent to our world class facilities. 

It is vital that we engage with as wide a community as possible, promoting wider public understanding of our research and bringing more people into the region. We need to be bold and think big, extending across southern England, particularly east and north. We’re already part of the Great South West conversation being led by Dorset LEP joining up the bigger region. Dorset needs to remain distinctive and make its mark. 

Our young people face challenges, particularly around housing affordability and good infrastructure and Dorset needs to find solutions to these key economic enablers. The future is all about creativity and innovation and this is what we have at BU – a vibrant and energetic community driving us forward and thinking differently. Dorset is a standout UK region to live and work – we have a world-class coastline, a varied and beautiful natural environment and a strong local economy.

The part we can play as a university guiding Dorset’s LIS response is a connecting one: joining up our partners, projects and people for the greater good of Dorset; keeping more of our student talent in Dorset post-graduation; ensuring the skills that we develop on our courses fit with local demand and building relationships, communities and ecosystems.

Our university is an economic engine for Dorset, and this must be reflected in our LIS. We are looking forward to working in partnership with Dorset LEP and the wider community to ensure our economy excels and reaches its potential. We have a positive, dynamic future ahead.

More information about Dorset’s Local Industrial Strategy can be found here.

More information about BU2025 can be found here.

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