How we’re helping shape regional innovation strategy and future engineering skills provision

UTC Sheffield innovation strategy

PES Performance directors Mike Maddock and Dan Fleetcroft have been invited to join two key regional innovation strategy & engineering skills development bodies.

Mike is now a member of the region’s Science and Innovation Board (SIB). The Board has a clear mission to;

  • Influence the strategic direction of the Sheffield City Region (SCR) by supporting growth and economic impact in areas that depend on science-led innovation;
  • Set a medium/long term vision for the SCR in respect to its impact and position at national and international levels and will influence, lobby and bring investment and action to achieve this;
  • Provide direct communication and advice to the SCR Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Board in order to support strategic decision making and opportunities relating to science- led innovation impact areas.

The SCR’s Strategic Economic Plan recognised the importance of an innovation strategy as a driver of economic growth in the City Region, and led to the establishment of the SIB to take responsibility for, and coordinate relevant activities. In 2014, the SCR’s Local Enterprise Partnership asked Professor Sir Keith Burnett, Vice- Chancellor, the University of Sheffield to form and Chair the Board.

Professor Burnett says: “I brought together this board at a time of enormous opportunities for the UK, based on the existing capabilities and innovation assets across the North and in Sheffield in particular.

“Over recent months we have heard a lot about the Northern Powerhouse, and have seen significant additional government investment in growing these innovation assets. I am keen that, as a board, we play a role in maximising the impact of these investments and deliver real change.”

On his appointment to the Board, Mike adds: “Innovation is at the heart of everything we do at PES Performance, and so I was honoured to be asked to join the SIB. As a company we are always looking at ways of innovating products and technologies, and we believe that innovation is a key to repetitive advantage.

“The Sheffield region has been synonymous with innovation and science-based developments for many years, including the invention of stainless steel over 100 years ago.

“We are passionate about the region and want to help promote the excellence of its universities and companies. Going forward there is tremendous opportunity for the region to maintain and strengthen its reputation for world-leading solutions and to provide business opportunities for our firms. A clearly defined innovation strategy is a key part of this.”

The SIB includes Bruce Katz, Vice President, Brookings Institute and representatives of the two Sheffield universities, local councils and Chambers of Commerce, large research organisations including the AMRC, and private sector partners including Rolls-Royce, Irwin Mitchell, Sheffield Forgemasters RD 26 Ltd, JRI Orthopaedics Ltd, and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

 

UTC Sheffield – preparing our next generation engineers

At the same time Dan has become Chairman of the Board of Governors for UTC Sheffield – a high-tech college for students aged 14 to 19. UTC Sheffield was one of the first University Technical Colleges in the country, and offers specialist courses designed with employers, in two exciting industry areas, Creative & Digital Media and Advanced Engineering & Manufacturing.

The UTC is the most radical new education offer in the Sheffield City Region for a generation.  It provides a unique opportunity for young people to benefit from extensive collaboration between employers, universities, colleges and schools to gain a rounded educational experience preparing them for a wide range of future careers.

Dan explains the importance of the UTC in inspiring and educating the next generation of engineers: “PES has been one of many regional companies to have supported UTC Sheffield since its inception. We have worked closely with the students undertaking guest lectures and mentoring events, and setting yearly technology projects for them.

“Engineering is something that I have been interested in since I was young. The UTC is a great opportunity for youngsters to learn about engineering and technology from a practical perspective alongside their education and also to obtain the skills and learning that employers are looking for.

“Also as a local engineering technology company we’re aware of the skills shortages for trained engineers across the region and we believe that the UTC will help contribute to addressing some of these issues by producing students ideal for technical apprenticeships and university courses.”

Students at UTC Sheffield study an academic curriculum – GCSEs and A Levels – alongside their technical learning.  The difference is that all academic study relates to employer-led projects and students gain the skills and qualifications to open up future opportunities for jobs and university courses.

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