The regional development agency for Yorkshire and Humber is sponsoring professorships in universities to strengthen local and national industries in key areas. Chris Johnston reports.
Professorial posts in five key fields of industry are being sponsored by Yorkshire Forward, the regional development agency for Yorkshire and Humber, at four of the area's universities in a pioneering pilot project.
The body is responsible for economic development and regeneration in the region, which is home to about 5 million people and has a gross domestic product of £66 billion. Among its objectives are assisting businesses to grow and improving levels of education, learning and skills. The organisation works to strengthen industries in biosciences, advanced engineering and metals, chemicals, food and drink, and digital technologies.
Supporting research activity in disciplines that need additional assistance is one way this can be done, says Reza Zadeh, head of competitiveness for Yorkshire Forward. The organisation is sponsoring five chairs to allow universities to recruit world-class academics. The idea was devised by its Futures Forum advisory board, which includes the vice-chancellors of the region's eight universities as well as business leaders.
Zadeh says institutions were invited to submit proposals for fields in which they are seeking new professors. These were evaluated by a peer-group review panel, and five were advertised in last week's Times Higher .
Two of the chairs will be at Sheffield University, one in nanoparticles and another in advanced materials, working in the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, a world-class aerospace engineering research facility.
Bradford University is recruiting a chair in mobile and satellite communications research, a joint post between the School of Informatics and the School of Engineering, Design and Technology.
A chair in electronic sensor and instrumentation systems is being sought by Leeds University to boost its Virtual Centre for Industrial Process Tomography (www.vcipt.org).
Finally, the new York University-JEOL Centre for Nanolithography and Analysis, is seeking a founding director/chair in electron microscopy. The centre was established by the departments of physics and electronics with sponsorship from JEOL Ltd. The chosen professor will lead a world-class research programme and will be expected to develop commercial links.
If the Yorkshire Forward pilot scheme is successful, Zadeh says it could be extended and emulated by other regional development agencies.
Meanwhile, the White Rose University Consortium, comprising Leeds, Sheffield and York universities, is recruiting three inward investment managers - one for each institution. They will initiate and support collaborations with business to secure science and technology-based inward investment.
Yorkshire Forward: www.yorkshireforward.org.uk
White Rose: www.sheffield.ac.uk/jobs