The latest Your Voice feature, giving LBV members a platform for their views on the current business landscape in Leicester.
Professor Philip Baker is the University of Leicester’s Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research and Enterprise. In this role, he leads the University’s efforts to foster research excellence and optimise the impact of that research, drive ambitious innovation and enterprise, and nurture the next generation of researchers.
How would you describe what your business does?
The University of Leicester is one of the UK’s leading research-intensive universities. In addition to teaching students across a comprehensive and wide ranging portfolio of disciplines, we conduct world leading research. Key areas of research include Medical and Health Sciences (with a particular emphasis on planning and addressing common clinical conditions – cardiovascular, respiratory, kidney diseases, diabetes, and cancer), Space Science, Museum Studies, Archaeology and Heritage, Environmental studies – to name but a few. We ensure that our teaching and learning is informed by our research endeavours – thus equipping our undergraduates and postgraduates with an education of the highest calibre. We serve our local and regional communities by providing a highly equipped workforce, and the opportunity to interact with cutting edge science and technology.
What are the biggest opportunities/challenges for your business?
Education is a fast-moving landscape, and both our student numbers and our research awards are on upward trajectories. We need to ensure that Leicester remains a popular destination for students across a broad range of subjects. We also need to ensure that our research operates high quality discoveries that translate to real impact. Interactions and engagement with industry and commercial partners are important to our success, and this will be increasingly the case going forward. Opportunities such as Space Park Leicester and our Biomedical Research Centre help facilitate this, and discussions around the development of a Heritage Hub are ongoing.
What would you identify as the key strengths of Leicester?
As someone who was born and bred in Leicester, it’s very difficult for me to know how to answer this question succinctly. Leicester is a remarkable city – right in the heart of the country, with one of the most innovative, dynamic, multicultural environments. We are perhaps sometimes reticent to extol the virtues and merits of our city and we need to do more when it comes to highlighting our strengths. I think this applies to the university as well as to the city. Space Park offers an unparalleled opportunity for our community to embrace a whole range of new technologies. Medical research dovetails seamlessly with our NHS partners – so that Leicester massively over punches (the Shanghai Index of international centres rates Leicester 18th in the world and 5th in the UK – above centres like Yale, Monash and Edinburgh) and we have a range of strengths in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
What are the top three ways in which Leicester can develop to support the business community?
- I think the engagement between the city and region with our local universities could be enhanced – to better effect. The University of Leicester, Space Park Leicester and our Innovation Hub provide a gateway for connections with industry partners and access to facilities and innovation support.
- Supplying the talented graduates that business needs to compete nationally and internationally.
- Working with partners to attract more high-quality knowledge businesses to the city and region.
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