University of Leeds Editorial Development Economy Contribution Skills Education

Ahead of the West Yorkshire Economic Growth Conference we hear from the University of Leeds on their vision for the future and how they’re at the forefront of the economic growth story within Leeds, West Yorkshire and the wider UK.


University driving growth across Leeds City Region

By Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Innovation, University of Leeds


Universities have a key role to play in the economic development of the North, and the University of Leeds is making significant investments to support regional growth, innovation and opportunity to help the North reach its full potential.

Education and skills

Attracting the brightest and best students from over 150 countries, we have a global community of more than 34,000 current students and 250,000 alumni.

As well as the immense cultural contributions they bring to the region, our international students are exemplary ambassadors for the North and raise its international profile. The city’s international students bring £390m to the UK economy each year.

There are opportunities for students from all backgrounds to study with us, whether that’s through our widening access initiatives for students from under-represented groups, our degree apprenticeships with PwC, or our fully-funded PhD places.

We help develop independent, critical thinkers who make a difference to the world around us, as recognised through numerous awards and accolades, including The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide ‘University of the Year 2017’.

We are one of the top five universities in the country targeted by the UK’s leading employers. With many graduates forging success within northern businesses and organisations or through their own start-up companies, we are building a critical mass of ambitious and enterprising talent.

Innovation and growth

With our strong background in commercialisation and our unrelenting focus on collaboration, we have a proven track record of helping the business sector to catalyse growth and productivity.

The University of Leeds has a strong track record of supporting innovation, licensing and spin-out companies, including:

  • Over 110 companies created in the last 20 years
  • 6 market listed companies with a marketing value in excess of £550m
  • 200 active commercialisation projects
  • Over 120 technology licences

The launch of our new innovation centre, Nexus, will see a further step change in our efforts in this area by providing seamless access to our world-leading expertise as well as state of the art space for start-ups, SMEs and corporate teams.

Nexus will provide businesses with a new way of working with the University. It provides easy access to our world-leading academic research experts and facilities with particular focus on the health, data, environment and engineering sectors.

Nexus brings together a vibrant community of innovators, supported by state-of-the-art facilities and a professional team who work proactively with businesses to identify and create effective research partnerships that deliver commercial impact.

We are committed to ensuring the North continues to be an outstanding location for businesses to start-up and grow; our ground-breaking research helps industry tackle real-world problems on a varying scale; small or large, regional or global.

Our impressive breadth of different challenge-led research areas are led by some of the most highly-regarded researchers and problem-solvers in the world. The Government’s Industrial Strategy highlights areas of excellence which are in abundance here at Leeds. We are spearheading our region’s strengths in health innovation and med-tech, advanced manufacturing, advanced materials, data and energy. We undertake cross-cutting and collaborative research with global companies, such as Procter and Gamble, with whom we have more than 20 joint research projects currently underway. And through our own spin-out companies we create regional jobs and opportunities.

As we generate and facilitate these far-reaching successes, we are proud of our civic roots and responsibilities in our thriving, successful city. We contribute £1.3 billion to the UK economy, providing jobs for 6,500 directly, and supporting a further 14,000 locally.

Cultural and social impact

Above all, we are committed to making a difference to the world and the region we live in, helping make the North an even better place to live, work and study. With around 3,000 participants, our student volunteering programme is one of the biggest in the country, and our research not only drives economic growth, but promotes health, quality of life and environmental sustainability.

We remain true to the North’s cultural heritage, recently securing prestigious All-Steinway School status, and we play a key role in the famous Leeds International Piano competition. In addition to hosting the competition, this year we have extended our financial support to ensure audiences around the world can experience performances through, the world’s leading online classical music channel. Our partnership with Opera North enhances the creative and intellectual life of Leeds, and through our inspiring museums and galleries we enjoy being part of a rich cultural scene in the city. Our Cultural Institute is helping to strengthen the region’s cultural and creative economy, with ground-breaking initiatives such as bringing together experts in performance with partners in medicine, robotics, engineering and computing to assist in the rehabilitation of stroke survivors.

It is against this backdrop of internationally-regarded research, rich culture and heritage, together with a sense of pride, ambition and innovation that we, in collaboration with other world-class universities in the North of England, will continue to increase knowledge and opportunity.


The West Yorkshire Economic Growth Conference takes place on the 18th September – tickets are still available HERE.

The event will hear from over 35 speakers, including the University of Leeds, on the huge development plans set to happen across the region to ensure we, as an industry, maximise the opportunities.