New facilities highlight innovation growth across Telford and Wrekin
A long-term partnership which draws on two regional powerhouses to further level up the West Midlands economy has been unveiled.
The proposals will see a strategic partnership between Harper Adams University and Telford & Wrekin Council, with new collaborative facilities based in the Borough’s towns boosting high-end skills and industry-focused research.
The partnership will use the strengths of each organisation to drive forward inward investment by upskilling the Borough’s workforce and improving its agri-food research capabilities even further – enhancing Telford and Wrekin’s national significance in the sector even further.
For Harper Adams, the new collaboration will mean some of its learning and teaching being delivered at two new sites across the Borough.
Having operated from its single campus in Edgmond, Shropshire for more than 120 years, the University will be using these new urban facilities to help boost skills in specialised areas including digital skills, animal diagnostics and animal health.
In Telford, Harper Adams University’s new flexible teaching and learning centre, part of the digital skills and enterprise hub, will be sited within Station Quarter, the newly developing knowledge district in the centre of the town.
And in Newport, a state-of-the-art animal diagnostics facility, with spaces for learning and teaching, research, and business engagement is planned for the Ni-PARK agri-tech and science park on the edge of the town.
Harper Adams Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ken Sloan, said: “Our newly-unveiled strategic plan, which sets our direction to 2030 and beyond, places greater emphasis on collaboration with the organisations and businesses in our region.
“These developments are a tangible demonstration of that collaboration, of our commitment to Telford and Wrekin, and of our desire to help contribute to the levelling-up agenda with the Council.
“This is a strategic collaboration which will mean people from across the Borough can access ways to enhance their skills and capabilities through a Harper Adams education in a central, accessible location – and will mean enhanced research in animal diagnostics and health, benefitting existing firms and making the region more attractive to others.
“We welcome Telford and Wrekin Council’s belief in the University’s ability to make an even bigger difference in the Borough, enhancing skills, driving forward the research our agri-food businesses need boosting the local economy.”
Councillor Shaun Davies (Lab), Telford & Wrekin Council Leader, said: “This partnership is excellent news for the borough and these two sites will provide first-class facilities which strengthen Telford’s reputation for innovation and as the place to learn new skills which can lead to excellent employment opportunities.
“The new teaching and learning centre is part of the Station Quarter development which will significantly transform and regenerate Telford Town Centre and is part of our vision to create a prosperous future for Telford residents and businesses.
“Meanwhile, Ni.PARK in Newport has become a popular agri-tech community which local, UK and global businesses are already a big part of.
“The state-of-the-art Harper Adams University animal diagnostics facility adds to the high profile agri-tech businesses which are based there and provides opportunities to forge new links with companies in the fast-growing agri-tech sector – enhancing research and development.”
Short courses, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and degree apprenticeships with a digital skills focus will be offered at the new Station Quarter development.
Meanwhile, the Ni.PARK development would be used by the University for the whole range of its activities, including teaching and learning, research and knowledge exchange - including engagement with industry and professional bodies.
Both proposed sites aim to attract a more diverse group of learners on to routes that complement rather than replicate existing degrees offered at the University’s main campus, delivering critical higher-level skills in the local area to support regeneration and economic growth.
The 2021 census shows that across Telford and Wrekin, investment in education has reduced the percentage of the population qualified to level three (A-levels) only from 21.5% to 14% between 2016 and 2021, with the 2021 English mean at 18% in 2021.
The Borough is fast becoming a thriving hotspot for entrepreneurial business start- and scale-ups as well as for well-established international businesses choosing to locate and grow here.
Telford’s many strengths have attracted 200 foreign-owned businesses from 25 countries in industries such as automotive; aerospace; defence; digital and creative; business services; logistics; food production and agri-tech.
All of these industries need fresh talent and many are closely aligned to Harper Adams University’s experience and expertise, making it the ideal partner for Borough skills development.
Teaching and learning in both Newport and Telford will be delivered on-site, but students will also have access to facilities at the main University campus through digital connections, and will have “field trips” to the main campus to make use of its specialist resources.
Further information on both developments will be released as each take shape.
For further information about support for businesses in Telford and Wrekin, visit www.investtelford.co.uk
Photo: A computer generated image of how the digital skills and enterprise hub will look at Station Quarter.