The challenges and opportunities facing the future economy in the South East were examined at a high-level roundtable meeting of senior regional leaders hosted by the University of Brighton this week.

Over thirty leaders of the region’s universities, local authorities, businesses and enterprise partnerships came together for the event to look at how they could collaborate further to meet the demands of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, a long term-plan to boost productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK.

Opening the meeting, Professor Debra Humphris, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Brighton, said: “Universities can play a key role in developing and driving the business innovation and growth that is crucial to their local and regional economy through their research and enterprise.

“Good examples of this can be seen in the University of Brighton’s thriving partnerships with Shoreham-based engineering company Ricardo and Gatwick Airport and in our support to help local businesses to be greener and create new types of jobs.”

These themes were further underlined by Alastair Jarvis, Chief Executive of the national universities’ representative group Universities UK, who stressed the importance of cross-sector working and collaboration to creating economic benefits at a local and regional level.

The outcomes from the various discussions will be used to plan and drive new initiatives across the South-East.
The University of Brighton was chosen to host the pan-regional meeting because of the range and depth of connections it has built in the region.

Organisations represented at the roundtable meeting included fellow Greater Brighton member the University of Sussex, as well the universities of Chichester, Canterbury Christ Church, Kent and Surrey, as well as Sussex Coast College, the major local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The Government’s Industrial Strategy, launched in 2017, sets out five foundations to transform the economy: it wants the world’s most innovative economy, good jobs and greater earnings, a major upgrade to the UK’s infrastructure, for the UK to be the best place to start and grow a business, and prosperous communities across the UK.

In May, it outlined four “Grand Challenges” focusing on global trends which will transform the future. They are: artificial intelligence and data, ageing society, clean growth and the future of mobility.