LLEP Board Member Nishan Canagarajah used a keynote speech to set out his vision of a renaissance of innovation, inclusivity and skills to drive forward Leicester and Leicestershire.
The President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester was invited to address the Members Dinner of Leicestershire Business Voice (LBV).
Speaking to members, Prof Canagarajah described how the university adds £600 million to the UK economy each year, contributing £360 million to Leicester and Leicestershire.
And, as an engineer and former Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, he spoke of operating at the interface between academia and industry.
Prof Canagarajah described how the response to the particular set of challenges faced by Leicester during the Pandemic had made him proud to be part of the city and had given him hope for the future.
But he offered a note of caution, referencing the East Midlands Chamber’s Quarterly Economic Survey describing “sky-high inflation, energy price hikes and the war in Ukraine are creating ‘new unknowns’ for businesses”.
Prof Canagarajah cited the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper in stating that a mixture of factors is needed to transform places and boost local growth.
These included strong innovation, a climate conducive to private sector investment, better skills, improved transport systems, greater access to culture, stronger pride in place, deeper trust, greater safety and more resilient institutions.
He described investment and collaboration in innovation, inclusivity and skills as a means of tackling the productivity challenge in the East Midlands – all of which the LLEP also has in its sights as part of its Economic Growth Strategy for 2021-2030.
Prof Canagarajah said:
I believe it is time for developing scale and growing start-ups and making Leicester the place to want to do this with a strong ecosystem in place providing support.
This work has already started through the LLEP, Business Gateway, Leicester Startups, and NBV.
Also, working with Leicester City Council – that’s LCB Depot and Dock – as well as DMU and CASE, we are making a difference.
Prof Canagarajah also mentioned the LLEP-supported Space Park Leicester, which is set to create 2,500 jobs and bringing in global businesses.
And he flagged the involvement of the LLEP and Business Gateway and the region’s three universities in both the LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards and February’s Leicestershire Innovation Festival.
Concluding, Prof Canagarajah said:
Let us now look to ways to generate a new economic renaissance for the city.
Through inspirational leadership and collective responsibility, anything is possible.
- Read Prof Canagarajah’s Leicestershire Business Voice speech in full.