Future prosperity being promoted through partnership

A new era of partnership to promote economic growth in North East Essex has been heralded with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Essex, Colchester Borough Council, Tendring District Council and Essex County Council with support from the Haven Gateway Partnership.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster signs Memorandum of Understanding with partners.

The agreement builds on the already strong links between the partners by providing a framework to deliver a step change in business engagement which will fully exploit the strengths of the University and drive forward prosperity in the region.

Attending the signing ceremony at the soon to open Parkside Office Village at the University’s Colchester Campus were University of Essex Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster, Deputy Leader of Essex County Council and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Infrastructure Cllr Kevin Bentley, Leader of Colchester Borough Council Cllr Anne Turrell and Tendring District Council’s Cabinet Member for Well-Being and Partnerships Cllr Lynda McWilliams together with George Kieffer representing the Haven Gateway Partnership.

The University of Essex is in the top 10 for research quality in the UK and its national and international reputation is a key factor in attracting investment and in helping to market Essex around the world as the ideal place to do business.

Ambitious plans are already in place to transform the way the University works with business including developing the Knowledge Gateway, a 40-acre research park on its Colchester Campus, to deliver outstanding support to ambitious and innovative SMEs while also building on the University’s outstanding strengths in data analytics. Alongside this the new £21 million building to house Essex Business School will be completed in the autumn and will offer new ways for the University to link up with businesses and share expertise.

The University’s vision echoes the ambitious plans for economic growth and job creation developed by the councils signing the agreement.

They are also keen to improve the educational attainment and aspirations of young people in their areas while developing the skills needed to deliver future growth.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster said: “As our 50th anniversary approaches we are as ambitious as ever and we want to share our world-leading expertise to drive forward growth in the North East of Essex. Creating stronger connections with business is an integral part of our excellence strategy which is supported by this agreement.

“We are aiming to deliver outstanding services which will give our business partners the edge in the marketplace - from support for business development to incubation facilities to foster innovative start-ups.

“We are at the cutting edge in many sectors including being one of the leading universities in the UK and Europe for harvesting data and applying it in new and exciting ways to generate competitive advantage.

“This agreement outlines how we can support the plans of our partners for economic growth, job creation, skills development and improving educational attainment and aspirations. Their support will be vital to our own plans to grow our student numbers by 50 per cent and improve transport links to the Knowledge Gateway to enhance its impact as a major growth hub in the region.”

Cllr David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council, said: "We hope to develop new opportunities for business, encourage entrepreneurship and nurture innovation in North East Essex by working in partnership with the University of Essex. Collaboration between Essex County Council and the University helps promote Essex nationally and internationally."

Cllr Anne Turrell, Leader of Colchester Borough Council, said: “I welcome this move towards closer partnership working with the University of Essex, ensuring economic growth continues to thrive across Colchester. Today’s signing of the Memorandum of Understanding shows strong commitment to eachothers projects and represents a key milestone in this journey.”

Cllr Mick Page, Leader of Tendring District Council, said the new initiative is about supporting plans for economic growth and prosperity.

“Although we have firm links, it is the first time we have put pen to paper in such a way to concrete a formal partnership between us, the University of Essex, Essex County Council and Colchester Borough Council.

“It is a very exciting step forward and one we believe will pay dividends for our communities and residents and significantly benefit all those involved.

“I look forward to this Memorandum of Understanding furthering our aims to deliver jobs and other economic opportunities in Tendring as a whole; developing a successful renewable energy offer in Harwich; a technology-based offer around the care sector in our District and also help us to raise attainment and aspirations amongst our young people.”