Reporter 455, 25 September 2000

Leeds is role model for industry links

The University has been selected as a model for Britain’s higher education system in promoting collaboration with business and the community. A grant of almost £280,000 from the Higher Education Funding Council for England is enabling Leeds to set up a communications and IT infrastructure to enhance knowledge management across its whole portfolio of reach-out activities.

Hosted by the University Library with the help of spin-off company Virtual Working Systems (VWS), the project aims to boost income from collaborative activities by £2m a year after its first two years.

Other targets include involving a quarter of all academics in the reach-out or ‘third arm’ network, increasing the amount and quality of information stored on companies and their relationships with the University. This will help inform companies about what the University can provide and identify skills gaps where they exist.

The £267,746 award was the largest of 31 made by HEFCE earlier this year, when it allocated £4.4m in the first round of its £10m initiative to support good management practice across the HE sector.

The project will iron out duplication of information sources and link up pre-existing departmental and other databases.

Expertise will be shared with other higher education institutions. By taking the lead in start-up, design, testing and evaluation, Leeds is expected to save 10 other universities about £700,000 in implementation costs, as well as helping the sector beef up its revenue from external sources.

VWS managing director Professor Christine Leigh, of the School of Geography, directed the early stages of the project.

"Leeds is seen as one of the UK leaders in this field," she said. "It’s a wonderful opportunity to provide innovative, high-quality support to ‘third arm’ work throughout the University."

Virtual Working Systems has become one of the first two tenants of the newly completed Leeds Innovation Centre, jointly developed by the University and Shepherd Developments.

It has been joined by venture capitalists Forward Group, the University’s partner in the £20m Forward Innovation Fund.

To contact Leeds Innovation Centre, call Tracy Robinson on (0113) 385 6845 (

More  More information available:
Virtual Working Systems
School of Geography
Forward Group

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