Arc Universities

The Arc Universities Group has contributed to a report undertaken by Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Midlands Innovation.


It sets out a blueprint for universities and government to work together to unleash the levelling-up potential of the UK’s higher education sector to help attract international investment across the country.

Supported by the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) and Universities UK International (UUKi), the report outlines the significant opportunity to provide a long-term boost for local economies by attracting more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the innovation clusters that surround university campuses across the UK.

Director of Arc Universities Group, Alistair Lomax, said:

“We welcome this report which represents a significant step forwards in our understanding. It casts university collaboration in a central role in the story of science and technology national competitiveness as well as the social benefits that will flow if we can get this right. The report challenges us all to be smarter in the way the pieces are joined up between universities, local growth partners, government and investors. The UK’s universities already play a pivotal role in attracting foreign investment to the UK.  This report is enormously helpful in setting out the challenges, opportunities and potential returns.”

The report  proposes a number of practical measures that would better leverage universities’ global connections to [directly] support their local areas by attracting investment to boost economic development and job creation. It identifies a clear opportunities for this role to be extended, making a number of recommendations for government, universities and local economic growth organisations. These include:

  • Government should target the world’s top 200 R&D investors, taking advantage of its new Whitehall Departments to launch a refreshed and more ambitious approach to securing FDI into science and technology
  • Government should incorporate FDI into R&D into its ambitious new plans to forge bilateral international research and innovation bridges with partner nations
  • Universities, government and local partners should work together to showcase the investment potential of the innovation clusters that surround campuses across the UK
  • Universities should work together and ‘hunt in packs’ in order to attract more significant inward investment into regional economies
  • A more systematic approach should be taken to introduce universities to firms who may potentially or have recently invested in a local area

On levelling up, the report finds that universities have a unique role to play, not only to provide the foundation for the research ecosystem that attracts investment but also to offer a pipeline of skilled graduates for industry collaboration and spin-outs. The recommendations could help level-up local economies [beyond London and the South East,] by supporting the expansion of innovation clusters with universities at their heart.

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