Mark Yeoman, Deputy Director, Convergence Partnership Office for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Adrian Spalding, Director, Spalding Associates (Environmental) Ltd, Professor Kevin Gaston, Director, Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, Professor Mark Overton, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Affairs), University of Exeter, Nick Coppin, Managing Director, Wardell Armstrong International Ltd, Sean Fielding, Director, Research & Knowledge Transfer, University of Exeter. Photo by Matt Jessop.

Businesses and University to build environmental knowledge economy for Cornwall

More than 100 business representatives have met with the University of Exeter to discuss how together they can build an environmental knowledge economy for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

The launch of the Knowledge Exchange Strategy of the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) was held on the Cornwall Campus on 5 July.

Businesses from Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly attended, along with representatives from across the South West region.

The University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) is a £30 million interdisciplinary centre leading cutting-edge research into the impacts of environmental change and the mitigation and management of its effects. Located at the Cornwall Campus, which the University of Exeter shares and jointly manages with University College Falmouth, the ESI has been enabled by investment from the European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme (£22.9 million) and the South West Regional Development Agency (£6.6 million), as well as significant support from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). The ESI is due to be complete and ready for occupancy in October 2012.

The ESI will put Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly at the forefront of research into the impact of environmental change and the mitigation and management of its effects. It has three research themes: clean technologies, natural environment, and social science and sustainability. It will engage with hundreds of businesses in Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and beyond to translate its research and expertise across these themes into innovative business practice, products and services.

At the launch event, guests learned how the ESI will help businesses to respond innovatively to the challenges and opportunities associated with environmental change. 

Director of the Environment and Sustainability Institute Professor Kevin Gaston said: “The ESI will act as a catalyst for helping to build an environmental knowledge economy for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and assisting businesses to respond innovatively to the challenges and opportunities associated with environmental change. 

“This event was a great opportunity for me to meet people from local businesses across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. I look forward to developing those relationships over the coming months and years.”

A specialist Knowledge Exchange team has now been appointed to engage with businesses and proactively manage their relationship with academic experts and with other business support providers. At the launch event, Sean Fielding, University of Exeter Director of Research & Knowledge Transfer gave an overview of the ESI business engagement strategy and introduced the team.

Mark Yeoman, Deputy Director of the Convergence Partnership Office said: “With the nature and global scale of the environmental challenges we face it is vital that we have the best possible research available to businesses to help them develop new approaches to the economy and take advantage of new markets. This ERDF Convergence investment in the ESI is a key part of our approach to the future economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.”

The University of Exeter and University College Falmouth are founding partners in the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC), a unique collaboration between six universities and colleges to promote regional economic regeneration through Higher Education, funded mainly by the European Union (Objective One and Convergence), the South West Regional Development Agency and the Higher Education Funding Council for England, with support from Cornwall Council.

The two institutions share and jointly manage the Tremough Campus – the flagship Higher Education hub of the CUC partnership – in an arrangement that is unique in the UK.

Date: 7 July 2011

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