Year Ahead 2016: Leeds Beckett University Enterprise Services

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Leeds Beckett University Enterprise Services
What didn’t happen in 2015 that was expected to?

We didn’t see much happen in the region from the new EU funded ESIF programme – it was planned to start in April 2015 and we saw considerable delays in getting really crucial programmes that will benefit our regional businesses off the ground.

What should we expect to see in 2016?

ESIF will start at last! We will see programmes that will help businesses engage with our regional Universities in meaningful and effective ways – to support innovation and to help businesses grow. This will be all the more crucial since the government has withdrawn all support for the Business Growth Service nationally which will see a collapse in the availability of publically funded business support. Our University and others will be seeking to help fill the vacuum of support for innovative and growth companies across our region and nationally.

What would be a sign that things are going well?

Increased numbers of net VAT registrations (after failures) and a continuation of the fantastic results we are seeing across Leeds in the creation of private sector jobs. A stroll down Wellington Street – perhaps the epitome of the collapse of the regional property market in 2009 to 2012 is a good example of the turnaround in confidence and investment with landmark buildings nearing completion next year.

It would be good to see the further development of our relations with key employers in the region – as Universities seek to better understand the specific skills needs of business and how best to provide the graduate skills that they require.

What would be a sign that things are going badly?

Confidence this year has been mixed – property sectors, fintech, general technology and med tech are on the up yet our regional steel industry and other manufacturers remain muted or concerned about the future. We would not want to see a continuation of this mixed bag but rather a consolidation of the innovation driven growth across multiple sectors. Our University business support and innovation programmes do not draw distinctions about sectors but seek to support the right teams in the right businesses across the region.

What do you want to see happen in 2016?

Confidence continuing to grow – the regional uptake of ESIF opportunities being a critical factor and the development of what the Northern Powerhouse means in real terms. Leeds Beckett University is hosting a free event on the 25th January to lead the conversation about this and what it means to our region.

Who or what do you predict will have a successful year?

We have a number of rapidly growing business facing areas within the University – our spin out company MoreLife continues to provide specialist Obesity treatment services across the UK and will be starting the delivery of an £18m contract in Suffolk in April next year alongside the flagship Public Health England programme to help Local Authorities in England tackle Obesity using a Whole Systems Approach.

We hope to be closely involved with the delivery of the government’s National Diabetes Prevention programme which will launch next year and our specialist outdoor activity teams in Carnegie Great Outdoors will begin to deliver the National Citizenship scheme to large numbers of young people across our region and the North East.

Who or what is most at risk/faces a difficult year?

The social care and health sectors are in high risk areas right now – many council services too. We are seeking to build on our close links with local authorities and care providers particularly to help across policy, innovation and transformational change issues. In allowing regional partners to objectively and deeply understand issues through research and evaluation services that we provide we will be seeking to be just as involved with those businesses and organisations that have a difficult year in 2016.

What are you most looking forward to in 2016?

We are looking forward to an exciting year ahead with the opportunity to further establish Leeds Beckett University as a partner for business and regional organisations in the future.

What are your words of wisdom for the year ahead?

It is very difficult to make predictions – especially when they are about the future.