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  • Universities and the New Growth Economy

    Sheffield Hallam University and the Industrial Strategy

  • Universities and the New Growth Economy Sheffield Hallam University and the Industrial StrategyUniversities and the New Growth Economy Sheffield Hallam University and the Industrial Strategy

    32 www.shu.ac.ukwww.shu.ac.uk

    Introduction

    The world is changing. The UK’s decision to leave the European Union constitutes a radical shift in the economic and social framework for industrial policy, business innovation and high quality science. The government’s proposed Industrial Strategy1 identifies the importance of addressing long-term economic challenges, including poor productivity, unbalanced regional growth and a weak track record in translating outstanding knowledge creation into inclusive wealth creation. Sheffield Hallam University offers solutions to these challenges; solutions which are bold, focussed on the long-term and on securing national success.

    This paper grew out Sheffield Hallam University’s institutional response to the government’s consultation on its Industrial Strategy. We are making it more widely available to policy makers and politicians as a token of our commitment to success.

    In the paper, we set out a response to the challenge for the development of an effective industrial policy, emphasising the importance of collaboration in imaginative new clusters of organisations and a dynamic role for focused public investment.

    Success in meeting these long-term economic challenges will require innovative collaborations of agencies, ideas and activities; and an interlocking emphasis on sector, supply chain and place; and flexibility in the implementation of policy and of investment streams.

    Intelligent investment can make a significant contribution to success, and strong partnerships between government, private sector and universities like Sheffield Hallam, have the potential to secure a step-change in innovation, productivity and inclusive growth.

    We are quite clear: Sheffield Hallam is an engaged university, building strengths in applied research alongside a commitment to securing impact and innovation. Few other universities bring our commitment and insight. One of the UK’s largest universities, strongly rooted in the industrial and scientific heritage of our city and region, we are a powerful driver for success and improvement. We stand ready to work with government to address long-term challenges in the UK economy and drive innovations with huge potential.

    At Sheffield Hallam University, we are proud of our contribution to our city-region, our country and our world, and our new University Strategy:Transforming Lives, embeds this still further. We offer a focal point for place, sector and supply chain development; for increasing productivity through research, skills development, and business collaborations; and for leadership and engagement, both locally and globally.

    Fundamentally, we are confident, we are collaborative and we are strongly positioned to address profound regional disparities and build a stronger, fairer and more successful country.

    Professor Chris Husbands Vice-Chancellor Sheffield Hallam University

    Carol Stanfield Director of Policy and Projects Sheffield Hallam University

    We stand ready to work with government to address long-term challenges in the UK economy and drive innovations with huge potential.

  • Universities and the New Growth Economy Sheffield Hallam University and the Industrial StrategyUniversities and the New Growth Economy Sheffield Hallam University and the Industrial Strategy

    54 www.shu.ac.ukwww.shu.ac.uk

    Investing in science, research and innovation

    Success in industrial strategy depends on being realistic in identifying and addressing a number of critical weaknesses in the UK economy: poor productivity, unbalanced regional growth, poor investment and weak connectivity between outstanding research and successful implementation.

    As a nation, we need a much stronger focus on - and support - for science, research and innovation. Sheffield Hallam University fully endorses the government’s aspiration to focus more strongly on export-led growth and successful innovation, recognising the value that could be derived to our own regional economy if science, research and innovation investment is appropriately channelled and managed.

    Increased investment in research and development matters, but so do tough choices about prioritising that investment. Too often, governments have avoided difficult choices about investment, and have relied on market-led developments.

    Commercialisation of research matters if we are to build on success, not least in the ‘eight great technologies’ of: advanced materials, agri-science, big data and energy-efficient computing, energy storage, regenerative medicine, robotics and autonomous systems, satellites and commercial applications of space and synthetic biology.

    Investment needs to be bold to encourage:

    • multi-faceted projects and multi-disciplinary approaches to problem solving, bringing in skills development, knowledge transfer, management and leadership skills, organisational management practices, business incubation activities and networks;;

    • appropriate emphasis of place, sector and supply chain;

    • risk mitigation in early stage research whilst promoting business and university collaboration at all stages; and

    • over the longer term, proactive investment management, based on collaboration between investor and investee, quickly and constructively identifying what is effective and allowing flexibility in delivery to achieve overarching objectives.

    Success requires universities, government, agencies and businesses to change aspects of how they work in ways in which universities, Sheffield Hallam included, have considerable expertise. In this section, we set out four ways in which investment could be shaped to bring together these needs, illustrated with specific examples of work at Sheffield Hallam.

    Commercialisation of research in the eight great technologies matters if we are to build on success.

  • Universities and the New Growth Economy Sheffield Hallam University and the Industrial StrategyUniversities and the New Growth Economy Sheffield Hallam University and the Industrial Strategy

    76 www.shu.ac.ukwww.shu.ac.uk

    The National HIPIMS Centre has developed excellent collaborative links with companies, including Rolls Royce and Ionbond, and other research organisations including the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Technologies in Germany, and has the capability to take coating development from the research laboratory to large scale production. However, the pace of innovation in high performance coatings technology is slow, because companies are averse to taking risks due to limited scale-up and production testing facilities.

    With government support for the world’s first HIPIMS expertise hub, Sheffield Hallam could accelerate research and development in critical areas of material science by providing an industrial production testbed for HIPIMS technology. This hub will enable engagement with the majority of the current High Value Manufacturing Catapult centres to promote the use of the technology and to conduct direct industrial research, where the cost of research will be subsidised to make it affordable for a wider range of companies.

    We can address barriers to research for business in this cross-sectoral technology and maintain our world-leading status, pioneering improvements and developing the next generation of researchers in this field. It is an example of how the research and development investment could build on existing strengths in a local economy, support university and business collaboration, maintain an important UK competitive position and develop important technical skills.

    National High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering Centre (HIPIMS)

    Sheffield Hallam University is the national leader for this unique technology. With licenced products exported across the globe, HIPIMS produces high performance coatings that enhance material performance in a range of settings such as lightweight electric vehicles, flexible energy technologies, superfast micro- electronics, orthopaedic implants, aero engine efficiency and glass coatings.

    Sheffield Hallam’s HIPIMS coatings have been developed for applications as varied as: machine tools and automotive components, where their unique wear performance is critical; jet engine components to enhance the heat resistance of turbine blades; prosthetic hip and knee replacement joints working with Biomet Zimmer to prolong lifetime and reduce surgery costs; and for cooling systems in space satellites in collaboration with the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

    HIPIMS already supports, and can further support, many of the sectors highlighted in the Industrial Strategy, as well as driving local, regional and national economic growth by enabling industrial partners to develop new technologies and commercialise our world leading and award winning science.

    We estimate that a 1% performance improvement in each of the industries we work with could be worth £500m per annum.

    Mitigating investment risks by combining technological and skills development in a proven area of commercial success

    We welcome the expansion of mechanisms such as the Higher Education Innovation Fund and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships. The ability to identify p