Local, and global, markets promise a good return

May 12, 2006

Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community

The £1.1 million grant that Karl Dayson's research team has won from the Government can hardly be attributed directly to its success in last year's Times Higher awards.

But gaining the Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community award at the 2005 ceremony has boosted morale, enhanced the research unit's collective curriculum vitae and given it the confidence to chase grants they may not previously have bid for.

"I wouldn't say the award has directly brought us new work," said Dr Dayson, head of the Community Finance Solutions Research and Development Unit at Salford University. "But we have had a very successful period since the award. Winning it has clearly added to our overall appeal."

Community Finance Solutions won the award after establishing a new type of financial institution, the Community Reinvestment Trust, designed to provide affordable cash loans to the financially disenfranchised. Those who benefit from CRTs are often people who were without bank accounts and had been at the mercy of legal doorstep moneylenders, who charge interest rates of up to 200 per cent.

Since winning the award, the Department of Trade and Industry has given the group and its partners £1.1 million as part of its financial inclusion fund, to set up advice networks for the financially excluded.

"The award has also given us a higher profile internally," Dr Dayson said.

"When we came back from the event last year, there was an internal event and much was made of our success.

"The university is embarking on a great deal of regeneration work, and this was seen as a reward for a lot of hard work by many people. It has given additional impetus to that drive across the university."

"I'd say to potential applicants this year, go for it - it is really worthwhile and an exciting evening out, too."

Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology

The importance of the transfer of knowledge from higher education into the wider world cannot be overstated, according to Andrew Ramsay, executive director of the Engineering Council UK and a judge of the new award for the Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology.

"Developments in engineering and technology hold the key to sustaining human life on this planet in the 21st century," he said. "Research and development taking place in UK universities is vital to this. I hope the awards will highlight the contribution that the universities are already making."

The award, which is launched this year, is designed to recognise and promote technological breakthroughs at institutions in either products or services that have the potential to significantly enhance the operations of business, industry or the public sector. From hardware to software, patents, product design, processes or systems, anything developed by a higher education institution that has made the successful transition into the wider world will be considered.

The award is sponsored by the mobile computing firm Toshiba. It will be judged by David Way, director of innovation platforms at the Government's Office of Science and Innovation; Stephen Brooke, director of business development at the knowledge-transfer firm IP2IPO, and Mr Ramsay, of the Engineering Council.

To enter: www.thes.co.uk/awards

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