Businesses and charities in the South East will get £2.4bn of support from universities over the next five years, according to new research which shows how higher education is helping the UK economy recover after the pandemic.

Universities in the region will also help businesses to deliver new jobs, create 1,750 innovative new businesses, provide 70 million hours’ worth of training and upskilling, and train tens of thousands of new key workers by 2026.

One example is the University of Reading’s ‘Cine Valley’ scheme, which through its partner Shinfield Studios will bring in around £500 million of investment and support 3,000 jobs in the Thames Valley during its first phase. It will bring major Hollywood film productions, TV shows and other creative industries to the region.

The Cine Valley plan uses the strengths of the University of Reading as an anchor institution, using the University’s role in education, business and creative arts to secure long-term benefits for local businesses and people.

Professor Robert Van de Noort, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading, said:

“I am proud of how our region’s universities and businesses are helping to bring new jobs and opportunities to our communities. Universities played a key role in responding to the threat of Covid-19, and now we are directly contributing to the recovery, helping to build back a better economy and society that benefits us all.

“This latest research shows how important universities will be in helping the country to get back on its feet, helping to ensure the recovery is in keeping with the needs of local people. Our work helps to boost skills and opportunities for everyone, and not just for our students and graduates.”

The new research, ‘Universities and the UK’s economic recovery: an analysis of future impact’, published today by Universities UK and compiled by the National Centre for Entrepreneurship in Education (NCEE), recognises the impact that universities are having on the economic and social recovery of the region after the pandemic.

The report forms part of #GettingResults, also launching today, a campaign to demonstrate how higher education institutions are helping the recovery.

The new research highlights how, over the next five years, universities in the South East will:

Provide support to businesses and charities worth almost £2.4 billion.
Give 8,000 years’ worth of upskilling and training to businesses and charities.
Help 1,750 new businesses and charities to be formed.
Train 18,000 nurses, 6,000 medics, 26,000 teachers.

Universities in the South East are also working on world-leading projects in artificial intelligence and data economy, making the region one of the most attractive places for international tech businesses to be based. There are already around 330,000 jobs and £91bn in turnover from the tech sector in the South East alone.

Small businesses are already benefitting from the support of local universities, such as Kymira, a Reading start-up company creating smart sportswear and wearable devices. The company is now developing clothing that can automatically detect an irregular heartbeat among babies or older people, and has adapted technology during the pandemic to create a top-rated filtration mask system.

Professor Julia Buckingham CBE, Universities UK’s President, said: “By working closely with their partners, including local government and employers, universities will play a vital role in the UK’s post-Covid recovery. Together, they can contribute significantly to future economic success and improve lives.

“Moving forward it is important that employers fully take advantage of universities’ support and develop productive relationships so the nation can bounce back stronger from the pandemic.”