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From the Vice-Chancellor – April 2023

2 May 2023

6 mins

In my April newsletter: the launch of Midlands Mindforge Limited, partnership agreements with Symbiosis International University and Loughborough College, our first Theme Ambassadors, and recognition for our care of our campus wildlife.

Launch of Midlands Mindforge

At the end of March, eight research intensive Midlands universities, including Loughborough, announced the establishment of a new investment company, Midlands Mindforge Limited, that will accelerate the commercialisation of university spinouts and early-stage Intellectual Property (IP) rich businesses in the region. The company plans to raise up to £250 million from strategic corporate partners, institutional investors and qualifying individuals to transform ground-breaking science and technology into successful businesses with real-world impact.

This is an exciting development for the region and underlines the power of partnership working, one of the six aims of our University strategy. Midlands Mindforge Limited has been co-founded by Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Keele, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick, which collectively form Midlands Innovation – a partnership that aims to drive cutting-edge research, innovation and skills development to grow the high-tech, high-skilled economy of the Midlands and the UK.

Although the Midlands region has long been associated with exceptional invention and creativity, it has experienced significant underinvestment in early-stage technology businesses; Midlands Mindforge Limited will help to address that by laying the foundations of a more vibrant ecosystem for emerging science-backed companies in areas such as Clean Technology, AI and Computational Science, Life Sciences and Health Tech.

By cultivating an environment where staff, researchers and postgraduate students with commercial ideas can benefit from early access to investment, we can create opportunities for our people, place and partnerships to flourish, and support levelling up within the Midlands, all fully aligned with our ambitions to drive a significant expansion of entrepreneurship and innovation across the University and accelerate impact from our world-leading research.

Partnership with Symbiosis International University

During our trip to India last November, colleagues and I had initial discussions with Dr S.B. Mujumdar, the Founder, President and Chancellor of Symbiosis International University (SIU), one of India’s leading private universities, about the potential to expand our research links and to forge new collaborative teaching partnerships.

Those discussions progressed further this month when we welcomed to campus Dr Ketan Kotecha, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and Dean for the Faculty of Engineering at SIU, to finalise the agreement between our two institutions. Our growing relationship with SIU has been made possible thanks to staff from both our academic Schools and the Professional Services, particularly Dr Kirti Ruikar from the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, who is one of the Vice-Chancellor’s Special Envoys for India.

We already have established research links in engineering with SIU and there is a real synergy between their areas of academic strengths and Loughborough’s, as well as with their values and ethos. Their motto ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, which means ‘the whole world is one family’, aligns well with our International Engagement and Impact core plan and our intention to build deep, multifaceted strategic partnerships.

Our wildlife-friendly campus

I was delighted to see Loughborough named as one of the UK’s leading universities for its care of wildlife on campus and in the wider community, in a new study led by wildlife care experts Ark Wildlife, with the University meeting all the criteria in the top ‘platinum tier’.

Our campus in Loughborough has an array of wildlife, with numerous badger setts on site, hedgehogs, kestrels and muntjac deer, and a University apiary that is home to between six and 10 colonies of honey bees. In their monitoring activities over the past year, our student and staff volunteers and the Gardens Team recorded seven species of bumblebee, 17 species of butterfly, 23 species of birds in Holywell Wood and 50 species of plants in both Holywell and Burleigh woods.

Our Biodiversity Action Plan and the Woodland Management Plan both support our care of the campus’s wildlife and we are part of the Hedgehog Friendly Campus initiative, a nationwide project set up by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society to help bring hedgehogs back from the brink of extinction. Last year we earned the Bronze Award and we are currently aiming for Silver accreditation.

These are all important issues and activities that contribute towards the delivery of our Climate Change and Net Zero strategic theme. If we are to achieve our ambitions, we must consider every aspect of what we do, from our pioneering research and innovation to the way we manage and look after our campuses.

First Theme Ambassadors

This month we announced the appointment of our first Strategic Theme Ambassadors for Vibrant and Inclusive Communities – twin brothers Ghanim and Ahmad Muhammad Al-Muftah, who are both studying Politics.

Our plan is to have ambassadors for each of the University’s three strategic themes, who will work closely with the Theme Associate Pro Vice-Chancellors, to act as advocates for the University’s activities and achievements at events and through their networks to enhance the Loughborough’s reputation and profile.

I am delighted that Ghanim and Ahmad have agreed to be our ambassadors for Vibrant and Inclusive Communities. They are already wonderful advocates for Loughborough and will do an outstanding job in helping to champion equity, diversity and inclusion and in showcasing our progress under the Vibrant and Inclusivity Communities theme.

I look forward to working with them and the other Theme Ambassadors when they are appointed.

University and College partnership

The history and development of both the University and Loughborough College have been intertwined for decades and we have worked together for many years on a range of issues, including, most recently, the creation of an East Midlands Institute of Technology, community engagement through the Careers and Enterprise Hub, and the broadening of a partnership around sport through the NFL Academy

Now the two organisations’ shared goals to help lead, support and shape the educational and skills ecosystem within Loughborough and the wider region have been formally recognised through a Memorandum of University (MOU). The signing this month underlines a collective ambition for Loughborough to be a national exemplar of what can be achieved when higher and further education institutions work closely together. 

The MOU, which heralds a new chapter in the University and College’s long-standing partnership, underlines our joint commitment to creating an education provision that will deliver exceptional outcomes to those in our communities, helping to build a culture of aspiration and success for young people across the region.

Vice-Chancellor's Communications

Opinions and comment from the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nick Jennings

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