University of Worcester Q&A
Having been shortlisted for University of the Year in the 2020 Times Higher Education Awards, the University of Worcester is home to some of the most forward-thinking and innovative staff and students within the county. With an array of achievements under its belt, alongside top-class teaching and incredible facilities, the university plays an integral role towards the development of Worcestershire as a whole.
We spoke to Nicholas Bancroft (Enterprise Manager at Worcester Business School) and Andrew Robinson (Lecturer & Consultant in Web Development) to find out more about the importance of innovation for the university.
1. Tell us a little bit more about the innovation behind your departments within the University of Worcester.
Nicholas: Innovation is something we simply strive to do at the Worcester Business School on a day to day basis. It is a key commitment embedded within our recent strategy for the whole University around three core strands; creating possibilities, developing potential and increasing our community engagement. Innovation often flows organically from sustainable and productive partnerships. We constantly look to harness our people, research excellence, expert knowledge and infrastructure, and can help to find innovative solutions to the big challenges we currently face in industry and wider society.
Andrew: There's a massive issue with creative technology at university, but it's very rarely discussed. By the time our computing students are perhaps halfway from graduation to retirement, every single software package, programming language or protocol we have taught them will likely be obsolete. It's tempting to just teach them today's trends and send them on their way, but we must instead give them an understanding of the underlying principles and an outlook that views every innovation as opportunity.
2. What does this mean for Worcestershire?
Nicholas: As the only Business School in Worcestershire, this can mean lots of things. We can provide a talent pool of recently qualified graduates to address and accelerate local business growth and innovation locally. We can be a think tank and strategic stakeholder for local businesses and wider industry challenges. We can provide specialist research capabilities and partnering for industry. We can provide staff skills development and management training programmes for local businesses. We can even provide managed student design agency services for start up's and micro enterprises across the local area.
Andrew: We are constantly looking for new challenges and opportunities. We've all been forced to focus on Location Independent Working this year, and we've learned that perhaps you don't need so much office space, and what you do need doesn't have to be in expensive, polluted, crowded locations.
3. What is the positive impact?
Nicholas: The impact is positive links and sustainable partnerships with local businesses based on established and shared values, as well as the development of highly relevant student employability skills whilst enhancing career opportunities. Also, active research project work and knowledge transfer with industry based on specific needs. Businesses and organisations can develop their workforces by engaging with our industry-leading and highly tailored training programmes. And lastly, the retention of highly skilled new entrants to the local job marketplace in the county.
Andrew: Our graduates are ready to join the workforce in practice, not just in theory. Our focus on employability skills gives Worcestershire a steady supply of skilled, talented and well-rounded staff to hire.
4. What knowledge has been gained from this?
Nicholas: We constantly need to adjust and develop our existing offers, adapting how we work in order to remain highly relevant and aligned with the needs of the local community. We always need to actively listen to our customers and stakeholders. The world is a fast-moving place and the current pandemic has highlighted this to us all.
Andrew: Perhaps I'm ahead of the curve here, having moved to Worcestershire from Dagenham 12 years ago, but I think a lot of Londoners are going to jump at the value for money and quality of life that Worcestershire can offer once they are freed from their daily commute. Worcestershire is a beautiful, affordable, low crime, well connected location, so I think this means the future will be bright for us.
5. What does the word “innovation” mean to you?
Nicholas: To me, innovation means constantly challenging ourselves to look at things with open eyes and spot opportunities as they emerge. Innovation is about being agile and being empowered to adapt and respond to new opportunities as they emerge and never feeling afraid of taking measured risks.
Andrew: Coming into teaching from a career in industry, it means constant change, lifelong challenge, lifelong opportunity, and of course lifelong learning.
6. How can I find out more?
WINN brings innovators together, acting as a catalyst to create connections and collaborations across the diverse business landscape of Worcestershire.
Our belief is that great things can happen when people get together.
WINN is a Worcestershire Innovation Programme formed by Worcestershire County Council and the Worcestershire LEP