Reporter 430, 1 February 1999

Productivity roadshow visits University

The Government brought its 'Productivity Roadshow' to the School of Mechanical Engineering last week, where Treasury Chief Secretary Alan Milburn met students who designed, built and raced a Formula-style car.

The national roadshow , the first to be hosted by a university, gave fifty people from the University, business and local communities an opportunity to influence the contents of the forthcoming Budget.

Welcoming the Minister, University Vice-Chancellor Professor Alan Wilson said that moves to encourage wider cooperation between industry and academic institutions would benefit the University. "It is commonplace to argue that we live in a knowledge-based society, that knowledge is the new capital, and so on. Commonplace but true! Universities are at the heart of this enterprise," he said.

Mr Milburn described the University as one of the region's strengths, and said that the School of Mechanical Engineering was at the forefront of UK technological development.

"The values of innovation and scientific expertise are well established here at the School of Mechanical Engineering, which is very much at the forefront of endeavour of this sort in the country," he said. Following over an hour of lively debate the Minister viewed some of the school's research technology, including a rapid prototype machine which makes components from powdered polmymers and metal. It has been commisioned by companies including Ford.

Local companies attending included The Spring Ram Corporation and David Brown Group. They heard the Minister suggest future changes could include tax relief to finance staff secondments to Universities from private sector companies to - a move welcomed by Professor Wilson. "Competitiveness, the skills base, research and development, this is an agenda which is very important to the University," he said.

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