Reflections from NTU’s Outgoing PMB Co-Chair
As I come to the end of my time here at NTU, I wanted to take time to reflect on the wonderful work we have done with the University of Nottingham and other partners in bringing the Universities for Nottingham Civic Agreement to life. I have always been a great advocate of collaboration and, having worked at both universities in Nottingham, was very keen to work to evolve our combined strength for the betterment of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. I have been delighted to champion this work from its first proposal, during my time at NTU.
The first agreement was signed in July 2020 with the then eight partners coming together to enact positive change across the local area. This was the culmination of eighteen months of preparatory work including a joint impact survey and identifying our common interests and activities.
Initial delivery work was hampered by the impact of the C-19 pandemic restrictions. However, and slightly perversely, this gave the universities a platform to show their joint potential and contribution. I believe this early work really cemented our fledgling partnership. Amongst many areas, our joint work provided for testing capacity, the safe return of students, and the meeting of local resourcing needs such as PPE, and the provision of machinery. We have utilised the relationships formed in these days to facilitate the creation of 80 new places on high demand nursing courses, growing the workforce our local NHS so greatly requires.
Other examples of early success included the universities joining forces to provide innovative business support programmes such as: the Productivity Through Innovation programme championing change within employers; the Minerva Nottingham Angel Investment Hub bringing much needed further investment to growth businesses; and the LEADD:NG project, encouraging live, experiential, and digital diversification within companies. Each of these programmes has secured investment for Nottingham and Nottinghamshire; supporting innovation, productivity, and growth at a time when we needed it the most.
I took over as NTU co-chair for the Universities for Nottingham Programme Management Board (PMB) in August 2021, working alongside Jeremy Gregory as the University of Nottingham co-chair. The PMB provides delivery support and accountability mechanisms to the programme. As part of this, Jeremy and I had the pleasure of overseeing the refresh of the Civic Agreement, bringing it up to date in an evolving environment. Several new priorities were added to it, including:
- Providing further innovation, enterprise and skills support for employers and communities with a focus on digital and data
- Creating improvements in local employment practice
- Encouraging the adoption of large-scale low-/zero-carbon infrastructure and practice
- Establishing a Nottinghamshire MedTech Innovation Cluster
- Tackling local social and other challenge priorities together.
The areas of priority outlined in the Civic Agreement will be delivered over the coming years with the help of all of our signatory partners. Our collective aim is to create lasting positive change for the citizens of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.
Reflecting on the programme however, there are several considerations the partnership needs to make for the future to ensure this success. Up to this point, the development of this agreement and its partnership has been an organic, iterative process. However, to understand fully the value this partnership adds, thought needs now to be given to the detailed planning, monitoring and evaluation processes. Implementing a more structured approach should allow the partnership to discuss what success looks like, understand better its positive impact, and learn from any challenges that have been faced. In doing so, this approach should develop good practice and ensure the longevity of the partnership.
I leave Universities for Nottingham with a heavy heart as it has been a big part of my work here at NTU. I wish my colleagues at both universities and our partners the best of luck in delivering programme activites going forward. I look forward to seeing many Universities for Nottingham collaboration successes in the coming months and years.