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Vince Cable impressed by new developments

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Published on 03 November 2017

Vice-Chancellor Shirley Atkinson with Rt Hon Vince Cable MP
Vice-Chancellor Shirley Atkinson with Rt Hon Vince Cable MP

The Rt Hon Sir Vince Cable, Leader of the Liberal Democrats and MP for Twickenham, made a visit to the University to see facilities including the new centre for enterprise and innovation, Hope Street Xchange, and the Living Lab.

Mr Cable met with a team from the University, including Vice-Chancellor Shirley Atkinson, and talked with small business holder Mike Todd - whose company Ezetool is based in Hope Street Xchange. During a tour of Fab Lab Sunderland, now based in the centre, technician Carl Gregg talked about the community work and links happening in the innovation space, where anyone can make almost anything.

The tour concluded with a visit to the Living Lab - a pioneering new facility that is changing how healthcare professionals are trained and how health partners collaborate to improve patient care in the North East region. Mr Cable discovered how students of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing, including Adult Nursing Practice BSc (Hons)Biomedical, Pharmacy and Paramedic Practice are benefiting from teaching and learning in the Living Lab, using the most advanced healthcare-industry simulation equipment, in interactive spaces and realistic settings.

Mr Cable commented: “While I was here I wanted to see the University, which has an excellent reputation but is not well known and what I’ve seen here reinforces the view that this is a highly successful institution, which engages with the local community, has high participation from kids from disadvantaged backgrounds and offers support for the local business community. It’s building a national and international reputation in key areas, like nursing, and the facilities here are extraordinary – world class. The basic model here, which is the civic university, which sees its primary role delivering high quality teaching and employability backed up by good practical research is an extremely good model and Sunderland seems to have perfected it.   

“One of the underlying problems in the UK is that we have very low productivity in comparisons to countries such as Germany and some of that is lack of investment, but in particular lack of investment in skills and innovation. I think that what happens here and particularly this new emphasis on higher level apprenticeship, degree level, is an extraordinarily good model. The University is marrying the very high standards of the academic world with the practical needs of business and industry." 

Shirley Atkinson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sunderland said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Vince Cable to the University and share with him our investment and focus on areas of expertise based on local need. We shared our leading work to raise aspirations and encourage all with talent into higher education and he saw that we are improving the teaching and experience of our students, increasing their employability and supporting regional economic growth. It was pleasing that Mr Cable recognised universities such as ours deserve much credit for the real value we add to our student, business and local communities.”

“He was particularly interested in our applied research and work to deliver real value back to communities and businesses through innovation, skills development and collaboration. We shared the transformational impact of our work to steer thinking and mobilise activity around culture, culminating in our City of Culture bid, and our work in engineering to develop and sustain growth in automotive and advanced manufacturing long into the future. We were also proud to show him round our Living Lab, which is transforming how pharmacy, paramedic and nursing students are taught to improve patient care in the region. He saw paramedics learning how to treat patients in real-world scenarios through the use of specially created spaces that replicate the patient journey and in our unique simulation suite.”

Hope Street Xchange

Launched earlier this year, Hope Street Xchange was developed by the University with £4.9m investment support from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP’s) Local Growth Fund and £2.23 million from the European Regional Development Fund.

Based on the City Campus it links the University to the region’s small business community by supporting fledgling start-ups and offering space for existing businesses to develop and grow. From here businesses can access students and graduates with the skills they need - through a range of options including placements, internships and knowledge transfer partnerships – as well as connecting them with the University’s world-leading research base, sector expertise and specialised hi-tech equipment.

The centre was initiated by Sunderland Business Group, which aims to support entrepreneurship and increase the number of business start-ups with support from the North East LEP.

The University’s Internships and Enterprise project, based in Hope Street Xchange, is receiving up to £2,207,656 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. ‌The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. ‌Established by the European Union, European Regional Development Fund funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visithttps://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding

For more information go to: http://www.nelep.co.uk/

The Living Lab

The Living Lab reflects the various settings of care provision and is made up of several specialist laboratories, from a mock hospital ward, pharmacy dispensary and dementia friendly patient's flat to a hi-fidelity simulation suite and an updated Point of Care Centre, which delivers education and training to those involved in patient care using the latest technology to enhance treatment and diagnosis for patients

With its interactive learning facilities based on the patient journey – from pharmacy to GP, hospital to care in a home setting - the Living lab is a unique, purpose-built environment that uses advanced hi-fidelity simulation equipment to deliver integrated working between university researchers, staff, students and healthcare and life sciences partners.