University of Bristol calls on the government to support radical post-Covid recovery

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By Lucy Mahony, Fourth Year, Bioinformatics

The University of Bristol joins a declaration made by 11 Core Cities and 24 UK universities, which sets out how the Government can aid post-Covid recovery using the economic power of cities and universities.

The Core Cities’ deliver 26 per cent of the UK economy and host almost 40 per cent of UK university students, as well as significant public research capacity across councils, NHS Trusts, Health Boards and agencies. Therefore, together, they are in a position to offer well informed advice and collaborative proposals to the government.

Professor Guy Orpen, the University’s vice-chancellor stated, ‘Our cities and universities have a long and very successful history of working together on everything from globally successful spin-out companies to hospitals and science parks. Following the national response to COVID-19, these partnerships are stronger than ever. Government now has a clear opportunity to build on this success and empower our cities and universities to play their full part in delivering the post-COVID Global Britain agenda.’

The city of Bristol is quiet during lockdown | Epigram / Lucy Mahony

This sentiment has been echoed by the Chair of Core Cities UK, Judith Blake: ‘Our core cities and their universities […] also have enormous potential to generate innovation-led economic growth to benefit the towns and communities in their wider regions. But we need the government to work with us to realise that potential.’

However, the Government’s willingness to follow the recommendations set by the universities and ‘Core Cities’, especially when they call for increased funding, remains to be seen.

The declaration requests boosts to spending on regional innovation. It proposes an increase in the Research and Development budget to £22bn a year by 2024 to 2025. The declaration backs this by stating that ‘innovation built around collaboration between universities, businesses, the public sector and communities – a ‘Quadruple Helix’ – has long been understood as a driver of local economic development.’ It also states that a proportion of this funding should be used to support partnerships with business and community networks, such that barriers to commercialisation are reduced, aiding local economies.

It additionally argues that the economy would benefit from increased international trade and exports, and that universities and cities should be as involved as business and governments in identifying growth sectors. This would improve their performance and forge links with continental counterparts. The proposed suggestions highlight how post-COVID recovery will hinge on successful trade negotiations in regard to Brexit.

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Finally, the Core City universities call to improve policy design. Increased flexibility and local policy are emphasised with the aim to improve local economic opportunities and policies. The declaration uses test and trace data as an example of how local policy could be improved. By disseminating the data, it could allow for better ways to mitigate risk both to public health and the economy.

Featured Image: Epigram / Lucy Mahony


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