Phil Bradshaw is one of the postgraduate students who undertook a project through the ESF Convergence funded CUC Research Programme.

Students celebrate partnerships with Cornish businesses

Students and local businesses are celebrating how they are together helping further our understanding of Cornwall’s flora and fauna.

The ESF Convergence funded CUC Research Programme promotes research that is closely aligned with the needs of local enterprise and builds on areas of special interest to Cornwall’s economic growth.

The programme has now enabled University of Exeter MSc Biosciences students based at the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on the Cornwall Campus to work on projects with organisations with strong interests in Cornwall’s natural environments.

Students presented their projects, which ranged from working with Natural England and Botanical Cornwall to research ponds and plants on the Lizard Peninsula to a study with the National Lobster Hatchery on how baby lobsters react to predators.

The project forms an integral part of a student’s MSc course and gives them the experience of working with a company, which can be valuable for their career. Businesses benefit from having the expertise of a postgraduate student who can work with them to tackle a particular issue.

University of Exeter student Lucie Buckland monitored the distribution of whales, dolphins and porpoises around the Cornish coast using technology developed by Chelonia Ltd in Penzance and in association with ERCCIS. She said “Having the opportunity to work with real conservationists in Cornwall was fantastic and the assistance I was given by Cornwall Wildlife Trust made such a difference to my understanding and progress. Hopefully my project will assist future work in this area.”

Representatives from organisations including Coastal and Marine Environmental Research Ltd, Newquay Zoo and Cornwall Council attended the event, along with University of Exeter staff and students. New MSc students attended so they could get inspiration for their projects.

Dom Boothroyd of the National Lobster Hatchery, a marine conservation, research and education charity based in Padstow, North Cornwall said: “This summer we hosted three students from the University of Exeter Tremough Campus. These students undertook a variety of projects: studying the habitat preference of juvenile lobsters, examining pigment levels in lobster feed and making a preliminary examination of the potential of growing lobsters at sea in cages.

“These projects will really help us to develop as an organisation and will provide possible future technical direction for the charity.”
Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Convergence Partnership Office for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “In today's economic climate we are increasingly hearing the cry for more growth in our economy. And some of the most powerful keys to growth are innovation and sustainability. This collaboration shows both in action, using research and commercial knowledge to create a long term sustainable industry."

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.

Date: 10 October 2011

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