Innovation and Knowledge Exchange - A Grand Challenge

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The Vice-Chancellor’s Grand Challenges Lecture on Wednesday evening in Keele Hall drew a diverse audience including university colleagues and partners from across the region. Professor Trevor McMillan has a national role as Knowledge Exchange Champion for the Higher Education Funding Council for England and his lecture provided rich insights into this ongoing work.

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In his welcome, ILAS Director Professor Jonathan Wastling highlighted the significance of the Vice-Chancellor’s lecture as part of the Grand Challenges series. Here our speakers are invited to offer stimulating topics for our audiences but more than this, to show us how their area of knowledge or expertise contributes to greater understanding of the problems we face in the world and the ways that we might respond to these. The VC’s lecture was an exhortation to reflect seriously on the role of universities in tackling real world problems and the importance of reaching beyond academia and the campus in doing so.

The lecture is one of a number of Professor McMillan’s presentations on the Knowledge Exchange Framework for a range of audiences, including a recent keynote University Innovation and its role in regional economic development at the Global Technology Transfer Summit at the Pujiang Innovation Forum in Shanghai.

Here, at his home university, the Vice-Chancellor set out the broad agenda for the ongoing national work on knowledge exchange, his experiences and reflections on this and importantly, where Keele is located in this landscape and the opportunities that this policy development presents.

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Professor McMillan emphasised the importance of the work of universities in their local settings and beyond this nationally and globally. In the Keele context he highlighted our contribution to research and innovation, work with enterprises and business and perhaps most importantly and enduringly, the development of our students , about 3000 of whom leave Keele every year with the skills, attributes and values to go out into the world and do good things.

Like many of the Grand Challenges speakers, he drew on Lord Lindsey’s legacy to remind us that Keele’s founding charter in 1949 set out a purpose for the university which remains as relevant and resonate as ever today

‘There should be established in North Staffordshire a College
where instruction in all branches of liberal education should be given to enable students to quality for Degrees in arts, science and other subjects and also such technical instruction as would be of immediate service in the professional and commercial life of the area’

Charter of Incorporation for the University College of North Staffordshire, 1949

Audience Q&A

The next Grand Challenges Lecture will be presented by Professor Iyiola Solanke from the Centre for Law and Social Justice, University of Leeds


on November 28th at 6.00pm in the Salvin Room, Keele Hall