University Partnerships: Impact Showcase
The University Partnerships: Impact Showcase was held on 9 March 2023 (7–9 pm) at the Stannary on the Penryn (Tremough) Campus.
Since 2014, the University of Exeter’s projects have supported over 900 businesses in the region by providing access to grants, business development resources, and funding for innovative technologies.
This support enabled the delivery of the world’s first energy independent farm in Saltash, drove rapid innovations in Cornwall’s marine technology and renewable energy sectors, and helped hundreds of businesses to reduce their waste and adopt carbon-neutral business models.
The Impact Showcase celebrated the broad range of partnerships between universities, businesses and other organisations over the past 10 years and highlighting the social, economic and environmental impacts these relationships have had across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
The event was hosted by Ben Rowswell (Impact & Partnership Development Manager) who introduced the following speakers:
Kim Conchie Chief Executive: Cornwall Chamber of Commerce
- Kim gave a Business perspective of the impact of European Funded projects led by the universities and highlighted the role of the universities in skills development, recruitment and retention.
Mark Duddridge Chair: Local Enterprise Partnership
- Mark answered the question: ‘The LEP have been instrumental in shaping & forming ESIF programme. Looking back, has it met expectations and achieved everything it set out to do?’
Chris Evans Head of Impact Innovation & Business: University of Exeter
- Chris highlighted the strength in building partnerships, along with statistics on the impact this has had across the county.
Professor David Pryor Pro Vice Chancellor: Research Knowledge Exchange: Falmouth University
- David highlighted the investments in infrastructure and the innovation that has resulted from partnership work.
You can view an edited selection of slides from Chris Evans and Professor David Prior here:
There were two shorter ‘quickfire’ slots where Chris Mann – Director Benemann and Rosie Goodship – Immersive Business provided an overview of their partnership projects. A short video was also played outlining the partnership work and impact of the Marine-i project:
The Marine-i programme has driven forward marine technology in Cornwall, with £13.4m investment funding 85 marine projects and supporting 197 businesses with research and development.
Among them is Angela Mead, Founder and Managing Director of Biome Algae, who received Marine-i support to scale-up her company, which specialises in farming and processing seaweed for use as a plastic substitute. She said: “When we first joined the Marine-i programme, we were definitely a small SME – but we had an ambitious idea. To be able to de-risk what could have been an expensive and challenging project was invaluable.” Her company went on to win Green Start Up of the Year 2022 for South West England.
Sustainability and Circular Economy
The Tevi initiative helped over 300 SMEs across Cornwall to become more resource-efficient and minimise waste, through a mixture of consultancy support, masterclasses, and grant funding.
One such company is Bennamann, who helped to create the first energy independent farm in Saltash. Their technology captures harmful methane emissions from manure slurry and converts them into biomethane, thereby reducing farmers’ energy and fertiliser bills. Speaking at the event, Bennamann’s CEO Dr Chris Mann, said: “this technology will deliver huge impact to Cornwall by reducing harmful methane gases and providing farmers with a future clean energy source.”
Tackling the same theme, the Arca programme reached over 200 businesses with circular economy workshops that have helped employees and business owners build skills to eliminate waste and maximise the efficient and sustainable use of resources. Julian Mills, Founding Director of STUDIO/gather Sustainable Architecture, said his team “came away totally buzzing to hear the stories and journeys told by other local businesses.”
Health and Wellbeing
The six-year Smartline project explored how digital technologies can support local residents’ health and wellbeing by improving housing and social connections, delivered in partnership with Coastline Housing Association, Cornwall Council, Volunteer Cornwall and the University of Exeter.
The Inclusivity Project worked with businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, such as Software Cornwall and Cornwall Museums Partnership, to understand and addresses the challenges that employers have towards creating inclusive workplaces for people who are 50+, who are disabled, and/or have a long-term health condition.
The projects were supported by funding from European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), alongside match-funding from the University of Exeter. The ESIF programme was designed to help support employment-related projects and create a sustainable and healthy economy by investing in research and development, digital technologies, sustainable practices, and small businesses.