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Universities can play major role in addressing global issues

10.12.2007
More public funding to support innovation between countries is needed if university research is to have a real and sustainable impact on global communities, says University of Leeds Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Richard Williams, speaking today at the World Universities Network (WUN) workshop in Leeds.

In a presentation focusing on environmental entrepreneurship, Prof Williams said that leading national higher-education institutions have the ability to provide innovative solutions to matters of global importance, such as climate change, disease and poverty, but that there should be more public support to assist the transfer of knowledge from the academic base into real world solutions.

In particular, Prof Williams called for funding for more trans-national research initiatives and distinctive more academic posts such as Enterprise Research Fellowships. He also described needs for undergraduate initiatives, citing the example of the recently launched Leeds’ Enterprise Scholarships which were developed to assist some of the “astoundingly motivated entrepreneurial undergraduates who enter the University.”

Quoting his fellow engineer Thomas Edison, who believed that ‘the purpose of an idea is in using it,’ Prof Williams says: “With so much angst around issues like energy efficiency and environmental protection, there has never been a greater need to create and deliver credible ways forward. With their wealth of expertise and intellectual property, universities are ideally placed to make a real difference.”

The WUN meeting is the second in a series of three - the first in Chicago, USA; the third in Zhejiang, China - focusing on enterprise. Around 100 delegates from 17 universities across the world will explore the development of global entrepreneurs – individuals and organisations equipped to work across geographical, political and economic boundaries to accelerate the development of innovative research, systems and products.

Jo Kelly | alfa
Further information:
http://www.leeds.ac.uk

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