As we formally sign off from a busy and interesting 2022, it only seems fitting to pause briefly and reflect before we set out our plans for research and innovation in 2023, and start our South Bank Innovation (SBI) campaign to #BringKnowledgeToLife.
2022 was a very positive year for South Bank Innovation, from securing significant research and enterprise bids to the delivery of key initiatives supporting our local businesses and residents. We have also made considerable leaps, improving our processes to support researchers, and have even been redeveloping our spaces to support student entrepreneurs and staff - taking a more flexible approach to how we work as a team. At the same time, we have welcomed many new staff to SBI in our mission to strengthen and grow research and enterprise projects.
There are so many highlights for South Bank Innovation that I could talk about, so I have tried to keep it to my personal top five or six!
Knowledge Exchange Framework 2
September 2022 saw the publication of the second Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF). The KEF uses data collected through the Higher Education – Business and Community Interaction (HE-BCI) survey to produce a visualisation of institutional enterprise activity. This is then bench marked across the sector – the full visualisation of our impact can be seen below.
We achieved very positive results, demonstrating ‘high engagement’ in five of the seven perspectives which include: continuing professional development and graduate start-ups, regeneration, public and community engagement, research partnerships and working with business. This really highlights our strengths in working with business and individuals to help develop new innovations and skills.
Highly Commended - Outstanding Entrepreneurial University of the Year
We faced very tough competition in this year’s Times Higher Education Awards – affectionately known as the ‘Oscars of Higher Education’. LSBU was nominated for the Outstanding Entrepreneurial University award, which recognises institutions that have developed and delivered an exceptional approach to embedding entrepreneurship within their culture and programmes. Despite narrowly missing out to local rivals, the London School of Economics who took home first place, LSBU was ‘Highly Commended’ which is a fantastic recognition for the commitment and entrepreneurial spirit at LSBU, as illustrated in our very own South Bankopoly. Maybe next year we’ll reclaim that top spot! 😉
Last year was an interesting one for most universities when it came to income, particularly from enterprise. However, LSBU bounced back with its highest total on record at £18.7m. A real highlight, demonstrating the drive and talent of our staff and academic researchers to bid and secure new funding. 2022/23 will be another ambitious year, as we aim to secure the funding needed to deliver even more world class research and enterprise projects.
With major capital projects across campus, including the stunning LSBU Hub, our first sustainable building at LSBU, we also redeveloped several of our key spaces at SBI. The London Doctoral Academy found a new home in the LSBU Hub, providing office and meeting space for our thriving post graduate research community. The space also features excellent facilities for teaching, training and events which help drive and showcase research.
We renovated our own Student Entrepreneur Hub based in the Clarence Centre – the home of SBI – providing students and recent graduate entrepreneurs with the space, facilities and bespoke services needed to help them launch businesses and develop their own ventures.
We also transformed our own space, allowing for more flexible working and meeting spaces – with brand new breakout, co-working and touchdown areas. This exciting new space will allow more open collaboration, encouraging academics, professional service groups and external partners to work more closely with us. If you are in the area, feel free to drop by and check it out!
So, what to expect in 2023
Despite the major challenges we face in 2023 and beyond – derived mainly from the increasing tightening fiscal belt – there is plenty to be positive about in higher education and, more specifically, research, enterprise and innovation.
The UK is home to a wide range of innovation sectors that are expected to drive growth and development in the years to come. These include:
· Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)
· Biotechnology and healthcare
· Advanced manufacturing and materials
· Clean energy
· 5G and connectivity
The UK has a thriving ecosystem for AI and ML research, a strong tradition in biotechnology, an excellent track record in advanced manufacturing and has invested heavily in clean energy technologies. The deployment of 5G networks is also creating new opportunities for applications and services, whilst the growth in e-commerce shows no signs of slowing, with new ways of selling and delivering being developed every day.
It’s worth noting here that the above text was written in just under 10 seconds by the increasingly popular Chat GPT – one of the latest and possibly greatest examples of practical and accessible AI to arrive in 2022. In a rapidly growing sector that shows no signs of slowing, the Chat GP example also provides a pretty accurate overview of the primary growth areas for the UK which aligns well with the UK R&D strategy 2023-2027 and the core strengths of South Bank Innovation.
Despite the many iterations of the recent budget, the government’s commitment remains to increase R&D spend by £5 billion to £20 billion per annum by 2024-2025. This is incredibly positive and highlights further opportunities for South Bank Innovation to continue growing its work with businesses.
As if this isn’t enough, other exciting developments include:
With the new campus up and running – offering programmes in nursing, social care, chiropractic and business and management – the campus will expand its research and innovation offering with a new Croydon Innovation Centre. The centre will offer world class facilities and expertise, researching 5G networks and their application in the health and energy management sectors.
The campus will also offer new space and business acceleration programmes to local start-ups and other companies seeking to benefit from our research, as well as our student and graduate talent.
UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF)
With the European Structural Funds (ESF) coming to a close in 2023, we will see the launch and funding of new projects under the UKSPF.
South Bank Innovation has a rich history of supporting local business and residents, delivering some of the largest regeneration programmes in the UK. In 2023 we will continue this mission through new funding streams to deliver increased social value for our local communities.
With a newly revamped portfolio of activities for aspiring student and graduate entrepreneurs, we will be launching a new Entrepreneurial Hub, start-up competitions and incubation programmes to help our alumni launch more ventures.
Our team will also be supporting existing student-led services, such as the Business Solutions Centre, Legal Advice Clinic, and brand-new Energy Advice Centre, all of which provide pro-bono support to local people and businesses.
Connected on Campus
South Bank Innovation currently hosts 42 companies on campus. With the addition of new affordable spaces at Caxton House and LSBU Croydon, we aim to grow this vibrant and diverse community, offering more ways for our tenants to engage with our academic staff and fantastic student body. Watch this space...
CPD and Short Courses
With the development of a bespoke virtual learning platform, South Bank Innovation is now offering a diverse range of accredited and introductory courses in partnership with industry experts. These range from Bread Making delivered by LSBU’s National Bakery School to modules in Net Zero Design and Management. LSBU also offers a very comprehensive set of qualifications for health professionals where it continues to lead the field.
Impressive stat moment: We have trained 1 in every 5 of London’s nurses.
Here’s to 2023
So all in all, 2022 was a fantastic year for South Bank Innovation. We look forward to continuing this success into 2023 and beyond with our local, regional and international partners.
If you are interested in finding out more about what we have planned and how we might help you this year, please get in touch with me or the team and engage with the content we have planned over the next two weeks to see what opportunities lie ahead!
Bring on 2023 and #BringKnowledgeToLife!