‘Higher education can help business through the downturn’ says Universities UK

04 December 2008


Aston University in Birmingham has been identified as leading one of the country’s most exciting schemes to help businesses survive through the current economic crisis.

Aston University’s innovative INDEX scheme (Innovation Delivers Expansion) features in Standing Together: universities helping business through the downturn, a magazine launched by Universities UK to help employers discover the range of support on offer from higher education Institutions.

The Index Scheme provides small and medium-sized enterprises in the West Midlands with a £3,000 voucher, which can be used to directly link academic support with any of the region’s 13 universities.
The Standing Together brochure sets out the kind of support UK based universities and colleges can offer employers, both in the current economic climate and longer term. This includes:
•           Practical support to help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) spot problems early, focusing on SMEs’ top priorities of cash flow, access to finance and staff training
•           Consultancy services
•           Research support
•           Staff development and training courses
Strengthened partnerships through the Regional Development Agencies,  Business Link, Train2Gain and sector skills councils

Professor Rick Trainor, President, Universities UK, said: “Universities work hard to make themselves accessible and useful to business, but we are keen to do more. We want to be responsive to business needs, and for that response to be quick, flexible and of real benefit. The case studies in this brochure give a flavour of the many ways business can engage with universities, whether it’s consultancy to help SMEs to become more productive and profitable, providing incubator space for start-up companies, or offering training designed to fit around company practices.”

Dr Phil Extance Pro Vice Chancellor for Business Partnerships at Aston University, said; “Universities can provide a link between academia and business to provide practical information and innovative ideas to those managing small and medium-sized industries.
“Were delighted to be recognised in this latest guide and we’re looking forward to continuing to offer support to SME’s throughout the region through our leadership of INDEX and through some of the other ways identified in the guide.”

Copies of the brochure are available at www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/PUBLICATIONS/BOOKSHOP/

West Midlands based businesses wanting further information on Aston University’s INDEX scheme can contact Dr Judy Scully at Aston Business School on 0121 204 3229.