Strathclyde will bring £1.4bln to Scottish economy

Emer O’Toole

Strathclyde University’s business collaborations will bring £1.4 billion to the Scottish economy over the next decade, a study has revealed.

The news, which revealed that Strathclyde’s research partnerships would almost double over the next ten years, was issued as a topping-out ceremony took place at the University’s new Technology and Innovation Centre in Glasgow.

It said that the £89 million centre would transform the way universities, businesses and industry cooperate in sectors including power and energy and health. A report by BiGGAR Economics claimed that the centre will have an annual economic impact of £64.5 million by 2021-22.

The landmark, 26,000 square metre centre – equivalent to around 100 tennis courts in floor space– will be completed later this year.

University Principal, Professor Sir Jim McDonald, praised the report’s findings, noting how universities can translate research into ‘high impact applicable, solutions and providing high-quality graduates for a wide range of industries.’

Altogether, the extent of the University’s collaborative research centres- which involves connections with global companies including Rolls Royce and GlaxoSmithKline- will add up to £161.2 million per year in ten years’ time.

These centres, which involve areas such as Power Networks Demonstration, Advanced Forming Research and Innovative Manufacturing are expected to make the University become increasingly competitive in encouraging students and research salary, leading staff numbers to increase by two per cent yearly.

These predictions estimate that over the next decade, Strathclyde’s Scottish economic impact will be almost £1.4 billion- an increase of 35 per cent since 2012-13. This equates to growth of £358 million, 45 per cent of which is directly related to the collaborative research centres.

Despite that, this figure is expected to be underestimated, since several of Strathclyde’s technological advances are enclosed within complex engineering and technology systems and machinery, such as aircraft engines and wind turbines.

McDonald added: “The University’s collaborative relationship with industry and the public sector, and the leadership role it has in delivering innovation and the development of competitive advantage in priority sectors, is crucial to future economic performance.

While the full, long-term economic impact of the University’s activities is difficult to assess, even those impacts that can be measured represent a good return on the investment from the taxpayer.”

The centre has already appealed to significant global partners such as SSE, ScottishPower and the Weir Group, as well as financial support from Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Funding Council and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Keith Cochrane, Weir Group CEO, congratulated Strathclyde, speaking of how the University commits to ‘providing first-class facilities’ and revealing how ‘access to leading academics’ is one of the reasons why the Weir Group invested in the Advanced Research Centre.

Strathclyde was one of the top five British universities for the creation of spin-out and start-up companies over the past decade and came fourth in the amount of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships launched.

The University is also involved in the Technology Strategy Board’s Catapult Scheme, which is investing £1 billion to allow UK businesses, engineers and scientists to collaborate on research and development.