UK-SWEDEN: Remote region co-operation

Universities in far-flung parts of England and Sweden have shared ways of building bridges with local authorities and the private sector to drive economic development.

A delegation from Cornwall, in rural south- west England, visited the Västerbotten region of Northern Sweden, a remote area with a population of just 4.7 per square kilometre (in comparison Cornwall has a crowded 149.1 people per square kilometre) to explore the role of higher education institutions in peripheral geographical areas and discuss collaboration with businesses and the public sector in driving regional economic development.

More than 40 delegates attended the first conference of the European Union project UNICREDS in the town of Skellefteå. Discussions focused on how a proactive attitude of universities towards initiating partnerships with business and the public sector, along with support from public authorities for universities, could help their local economies.

Carolyn Rule, Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration at Cornwall Council, said: "In a period of restricted public spending, it will be important that the public sector is able to support entrepreneurs in their challenge to regenerate the economy, and high skilled staff will be a vital element of this.

"Universities and local authorities working together to provide education and skills training and graduate and business start-up, support and growth programmes could provide a step change in economic growth."

The conference was the first in a series of five to be held across Europe, each of which is the final stage in five separate pieces of research work on specific themes done by the UNICREDS partners and involving local authorities and universities.

UNICREDS is a EUR2 million (US$2.5 million) project funded by the EU and 15 partners from Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Hungary and the UK. Its aim is to explore new ways of collaboration between universities, business and the public sector in remote areas where people can find access to traditional university education difficult for geographic, financial, or social reasons.

Cornwall Council is leading the three- year project and the outcomes are expected to shape the role of universities in driving economic development across Cornwall and Europe in the future.

In your article concerning [url=https://www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=20100716191423323 style=original]Unicreds[/url, you say that "Cornwall has a crowded 149.1 people per square kilometre".This may be a bit misleading as it is actually one of the least populated areas of England which has an average population density of 383 people / km sq. Also, as well as the countries you mention, representatives from Bulgaria, Finland, Czech Republic and Scotland also attended the event.