A new publication released today by University Alliance (UA), showcases how research taking place in universities across the Alliance is delivering local and global impact. Oxford Brookes University is one of 12 universities which form University Alliance, representing professional and technical universities.
Launched to coincide with British Science Week, the publication uses case studies to highlight how Alliance universities work with partners to address real-word challenges, and to deliver research activities that directly benefit people, communities, businesses and wider society- both across the UK and around the world.
Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University and Deputy Chair of University Alliance, said: “The breadth of research activity and innovation within Alliance universities is truly impressive. Oxford Brookes has internationally-recognised research, yet we remain firmly connected to our local communities, working alongside businesses and partners to address the big issues facing our region and indeed our world.”
The report also highlights how research undertaken by Alliance universities is helping to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, including the development of faster and reliable tests; drug treatments to reduce the severity of Covid-19 symptoms on the most vulnerable patients; the creation of new vaccines as well as supporting the manufacture and rollout of existing vaccines.
The publication highlights three case studies from Oxford Brookes University, one of which outlines the development of a Covid-19 vaccine through spinout company, Oxford Expression Technologies Ltd. A grant from Innovate UK supports this work to develop a vaccine using insect cells.
Linda King, Professor of Virology and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Global Partnerships at Oxford Brookes University co-founded Oxford Expression Technologies Ltd. She says, “Part of the response of university researchers to the global pandemic has been to understand the virus and work with others to rapidly look for solutions. The efforts to develop effective vaccines against Covid-19 will help our lives to return to normal. It’s just one example of how university research makes a huge impact on everyone’s lives.”
On the week of International Women’s Day, the publication also identifies the steps Alliance universities are taking to embed equality, diversity and inclusion across their research programmes, to support more underrepresented groups into academia, and to address barriers faced by students and staff. The publication also emphasises the need for early intervention in developing talent, and highlights particular initiatives aimed at supporting Early Career Researchers.
The publication has been developed following a roundtable held between UA’s Research and Innovation Network and UKRI CEO Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, during which UA members emphasised their shared commitment to supporting an inclusive and positive research culture.
University Alliance Research and Innovation network chair and Pro Vice-Chancellor of Research and Enterprise at the University of Brighton Professor Tara Dean said: “As Chair of the University Alliance Research and Innovation network, I am constantly amazed by the breadth and scale of impact being delivered by the research undertaken by our universities. Globally connected and locally rooted, Alliance universities are central to the hope that this country’s future will be driven by cutting-edge research and innovation, and I am pleased that we can showcase just a snapshot of it through this report.
“This year’s British Science Week calls for action to support the next generation of scientists, and I am proud that in University Alliance we have a deep rooted commitment to unlocking potential and effecting change, particularly within our academic pipeline. As this publication highlights, both within our institutions and across the Alliance, we are leading initiatives to support Early Career Researchers, and expand the diversity of R&D talent pipelines.
“Our universities are committed to taking action to progress equality, diversity and inclusion across our research programmes, our institutions, and in wider society, but we also recognise that we have a long way to go to truly realise this ambition. In the coming weeks, months and years, I look forward to working with my colleagues across the Alliance on driving through long-term strategic, cultural and organisational change.”