Beds ‘Gets Results’ for local economy & community

Thu 27 May, 2021
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The University of Bedfordshire is shining a light on some of the important research projects and local business support it has provided during the Covid-19 pandemic, as part of Universities UK’s (UUK) latest campaign – #GettingResults.

Through the launch of this initiative, UUK aims to put universities at the heart of the economic and social recovery from the pandemic, by raising awareness of the important work and impactful research that higher education (HE) institutions continue to facilitate and conduct.

According to a study commissioned by UUK, universities across the East of England, including the University of Bedfordshire, will:

  • Provide over 8,600 years’ worth of upskilling and training to businesses and charities
  • Help 1,678 new businesses and charities to be formed
  • Train 14,000 nurses, 3,000 medics and 6,000 teachers

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses – and a wide range of sectors not just within the East of England region but across the UK – have suffered greatly, leading to economic and Getting Results campaignsocial damage. The contributions made by universities and their students through knowledge and skills exchange, partnerships and support for local employers have huge potential to help businesses, industries, and other partners to continue, recover and thrive following the pandemic.

The University of Bedfordshire recognises the potential it has to make a real impact within its communities, having so far contributed significantly to the financial and social regional economic growth – both locally and nationally – at around £370m.

In addition to its role as a large employer and educator, Bedfordshire is committed to working in partnership with local businesses and organisations, boosting skills and productivity through knowledge exchange, skills provision, expertise in research and consultancy. The University also associates with many important community organisations, projects and initiatives and has helped to attract regeneration and development funding for the region, having grown this income by 25% in the past five years.

Dr Nicholas Lancaster, Director of the Innovation & Enterprise Service, part of the University’s Research & Knowledge Exchange, said: “The University of Bedfordshire has contributed over £440m in regional growth in the past three years, and we are a central part of making the OxCam Arc one of the leading economic regions for entrepreneurs, start-ups and high growth companies.

“Alongside the Local Authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) and Chambers of Commerce, the University addresses key issues in the public, private and third sectors – boosting job creation, productivity and Research and Development.”

Here are some examples of how the University of Bedfordshire has been #GettingResults for the local community and region during the Covid-19 pandemic, by providing invaluable academic and business support…

Arts funding

Since the first UK lockdown, the University of Bedfordshire’s Arts & Culture Projects team have been working in close partnership with local authorities and key local charities, including The Culture TrustRevoLuton Arts and Bedford Creative Arts, to offer emergency support to community practitioners who have found themselves financially and operationally affected by Covid-19.

Clocking up 45 hours of key support work, the University has helped with the submission of 31 Luton-based bids to Arts Council England (ACE). To date, 84% of these bids have been successful, resulting in a total of £243,135 in funding, as well as an additional £10,000 small business grant which was separately approved and funded by Luton Borough Council.

Additionally, the University provided application support for two other arts organisations in Central Bedfordshire which successfully received ACE emergency funding worth £54,070, meaning a grand total of £307,206 will be injected into the county’s creative industries.

The 31 local artists and organisations who will benefit from this emergency funding have and will use the money to help with essential costs – including business rent and staff wages – and to ensure key community and cultural activity can still be delivered in various digital and Covid-safe ways.

For further information, please click here.

Social Care student

Presently, the University of Bedfordshire has the largest offer of apprenticeships within SEMLEP (South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership), focusing on skill shortages in the private sector and demand for employment in the public sector, including health and social care.

The University currently delivers approximately 120 apprenticeship programmes to 250 apprentices per year. Despite the pandemic, apprenticeships have continued to be delivered – 49 employers are currently being supported by the University – with 83 new apprentices signing up in the last eight months alone. Bedfordshire’s apprenticeship programme can be adapted to meet the needs of individual organisations to ensure that apprentices gain the most from their combined university and workplace experience.

Recently, the University successfully supported the needs of Central Bedfordshire Council, where nine council employees completed the Social Worker degree apprenticeship. The apprentices re-entered the council’s workforce with enhanced vital support skills for the Central Beds community and were better equipped to promote positive change in people’s lives, improving wellbeing and independence. This has benefited both the local economy and talent growth, with the Council commenting: “The University are well equipped in providing the level of support required to educate and prepare a future pipeline of qualified social workers.”

For further information, please click here.

Engineering student

Bedfordshire-based lighting company, Levello, registered to receive free business support from the University’s Innovation & Enterprise Service. Through this service, they were matched with a graduate intern via the EU-funded Time2Grow programme. Mohammed Parveys – an Electronic Engineering graduate from University of Bedfordshire – was able to support Levello in their business needs, including modernisation to help drive customer growth, and upon completing his internship the company hired him as a full time member of staff.

Through Time2Grow, the University aims to make businesses more adaptable and resilient to the fast-changing national economy and focuses on making graduates employable through valuable, paid experience in their chosen field.

In any two month period, Time2Grow is able to deliver innovative support to local businesses and facilitate the full-time employment of approximately 25 graduates. Leading up to the first UK lockdown in March 2020, 46% of the Time2Grow graduates went on to permanent employment within their placement company, launching new careers as a result of the short-term employment contract. If the current rate of success is maintained and applied to all current 109 Time2Grow projects, a total of 49 jobs will be created and made available to the University of Bedfordshire’s graduates.

For further information, please click here.


Wayne Cartmel, a University of Bedfordshire alumnus requested assistance from the University’s Innovation Bridges SME programme in developing his new business platform, MyNewTerm, which automates the recruitment process and connects schools with candidates directly. Designed to be simple to use, the service aims to cut school recruitment costs by up to 90%, compared to more traditional recruitment approaches.

Following initial research and work carried out by Teacher Education academic, Dr Gareth Bates, Wayne was referred to the University’s Business School and School of Computer Science & Technology, where his company received support from a number of interdisciplinary academics, developing the innovative platform into a commercially successful business.

With the continued support from the University of Bedfordshire, the multi-award-winning start-up, MyNewTerm, has steadily grown in the face of the pandemic, helping to address the unemployment issue within local communities and further afield. The company’s bespoke technology connects thousands of job-seekers with schools every month.

Since launching, MyNewTerm has also recruited three University of Bedfordshire graduates – a perfect example of how businesses and university collaborations can support entrepreneurs in developing their commercial ideas, in turn boosting job creation and helping to retain graduate talent within the region.

For further information, please click here.

Throughout the pandemic, the NHS-approved, tight-fitting FFP3 (filtered face-piece) masks have been a piece of essential respiratory protective equipment, particularly during aerosol-generating procedures in Covid-19 intensive care environments. However, facial hair is considered an impediment for achieving a competent seal – something which impacts health workers who keep facial hair for religious, cultural or personal reasons.

Singh Thatta technique

Professor Gurch Randhawa, Director of the University of Bedfordshire’s Institute for Health Research, led a team of experts – including transplant surgeon, Dr Rajinder Pal Singh – to promote an innovative beard covering technique called ‘Singh Thattha’, initially devised by Dr Singh, which enables bearded individuals to safely wear a respirator mask without the need for shaving.

The study found that 25 of 27 bearded trialists had been able to pass the qualitative Fit Test using the under-mask beard cover, and an additional study funded by the Sikh Doctors & Dentists Association (SDDA) had a 100% Fit Test pass rate.

Bedfordshire-based company R45 recently approached the University, looking for expertise to help pivot their business following the pandemic. As they were looking to develop environmentally and culturally friendly PPE, R45 are now learning from Professor Randhawa’s research study in order to commercialise the Singh Thattha product.

For further information, please click here.

The skills of University of Bedfordshire graduates will also have an important role to play in the future success of businesses and other sectors during the Covid-19 recovery process. In 2018/2019 Bedfordshire recorded 144 graduate start-ups, turning over £12.5 million and employing over 590 people – the 7th highest of 162 HE institutions across the UK.

Over the next five years, a study by the National Centre for Entrepreneurship in Education (NCEE) for UUK has predicted that universities in the United Kingdom will:

  • Attract £21.7 billion of funding for research projects with partners
  • Provide support to businesses and charities worth over £11.6 billion
  • Be involved in regeneration projects worth £2.5 billion to local economies
  • Help 21,650 new businesses and charities to be formed
  • Train 191,000 nurses, 84,000 medics and 188,000 teachers

Professor Julia Buckingham CBE, Universities UK’s President, said: "By working closely with their partners, including local government and employers, universities will play a vital role in the UK's post- recovery. Together, they can contribute significantly to future economic success and improve lives. Moving forward it is important that employers fully take advantage of universities’ support and develop productive relationships so the region can bounce back stronger from the pandemic.”

Follow news of UUK’s campaign via Twitter, or search for #GettingResults online.

For further details of the University of Bedfordshire’s social and economic contribution to the region can be found here, in the Social and Economic Impact Report 2020.

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