Directors' Forum 23-24 September 2019

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We are delighted to announce that our Autumn Directors' Forum will be held jointly with ARMA and take place at the Park Regis Hotel, Birmingham on Tuesday 24 September.


The event will focus on the role of universities in their local region, and will include the usual mix of strategy/policy updates as well as a chance to discuss how these translate into activity.  Discussions will include how universities are working with the various regional actors and the funding streams available to facilitiate this.  Local industrial strategy, strength in places funding, city deals and the approach of the devolved governments will also feature.

A dinner will be held on the evening of Monday 23 September to enable you to make the most of the networking time available with fellow Directors (included in the registration fee), and we are delighted that Ieuan Wyn Jones, former MP, AM and Deputy First Minister for Wales, will be joining us to provide a unique perspective of the workings of Government at a national, devolved and local level.


Confirmed speakers include:


Professor Simon Collinson, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Birmingham and Director of the City-Region Economic Development Institute will discuss the contribution universities can make to the place agenda. He will also talk about the outputs of the Civic University Commission.
Paul Edwards, Head of Strategy, Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP will talk about innovation ecosystems and local industrial strategies.
James Tooze, Policy Officer at CaSE will provide some insights into the recent work they have been undertaking to gather evidence on place-based regional R&D investment and local economic growth.


We are planning a couple of discussions sessions:
The first of these will focus on some of the current place-based funding source that exist and how Universities have engaged. Rachel Tyrrell, Associate Director of Knowledge Exchange and Programme Director, UKRI Strength in Places Fund will be joining us alongside speakers on City Deals and Local Growth Funds. This will be an interactive session and we will be looking for contributions from the floor to inform the discussion.
Kevin Richardson, Local Academy Ltd, will deliver a session on what the longer term trends in investment finance for local and regional development mean for Universities. There are many unknowns at the moment and we will be looking for delegates to highlight their ambitions for future regional funding schemes including the long-awaited Shared Prosperity Fund.


View the programme here


Places for the event are limited, early registration is advised to secure your place (multiple registrations from a single institution may be restricted).  

Directors who are unable to attend due to other commitments may nominate a deputy to attend on their behalf.


  • PraxisAuril and ARMA members: University Heads of Office (or a nominated deputy)
  • Key sector stakeholders (by invitation only)

Please note the event fee does not include accommodation, this should be booked separately if required (see below). 


Venue and accommodation:

Park Regis Birmingham is the newest, tallest and most breathtaking addition to Birmingham’s skyline. Situated on the famous Broad Street, the hotel offers and modern and contemporary ambience with a boutique feel for guests to enjoy.

The hotel is approximately 20 minutes walk from Birmingham New Street station, or a short taxi ride.

To book, please contact the Park Regis directly on 0121 369 5555 choosing option 1 from the menu.

Car parking:

There is no on-site parking at the event venue itself.  The nearest car parking facilities are the Euro Car Park located in the Five Ways Entertainment complex, approximately 300m (3 min walk) from the hotel (car park address: Euro Car Parks, Fiveways, 60 Bishopsgate St, Birmingham B15 1DB) 

We have a limited number of complimentary spaces available in another local car park - please let us know if you require a space and we will reserve one for you. Car registrations must be provided two days prior to arrival.


23rd September - 24th September


Event fee (excl. VAT) £ 412.50

Prof. Simon Collinson

Professor of International Business and Innovation, Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham
Simon is Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (DPVC) at the University of Birmingham and Director of the City-Region Economic Development Institute (City-REDI) at Birmingham Business School, where he was Dean 2012-2016. He has held various roles, including: Chair of the Chartered Association of Business Schools, member of the ESRC Council and the GBS Chamber of Commerce Council. In his DPVC role Simon leads the University’s regional economic engagement activities including its contribution in a ‘place-based’ industrial strategy. His research and consulting focuses on multinational firms, productivity, innovation, competitiveness and regional economic growth. As well as publishing in leading journals, including the Journal of International Business Studies, Research Policy, Organisation Studies and Business History his research has featured in the Financial Times, Sunday Times, Wall Street Journal, BBC Radio 4, and the New Statesman.

Dr. Rebecca Edwards

Research Programme Manager, Bournemouth University
I lead the Knowledge Exchange and Impact Team to work across BU through a series of corporate level initiatives designed to ensure our research activities are informed by society for the benefit of society. This role builds on my previous experience at BU as Public Engagement and Impact Manager/Research and Knowledge Exchange Development Manager. My passion for research and knowledge exchange stems from my time as a researcher dating back over the last decade or so. After completing a BSc in Geography from Royal Holloway, University of London, at the same institution I was awarded an ESRC CASE Studentship to explore the impacts of public space policy – co-funded by Grosvenor Estates and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). This triggered my dual passions of understanding the impacts of national government policy at a localised level and how society engages within the public sphere. I was then appointed as a Research Associate at Cardiff University, first as part of the Regeneration Institute and latterly the Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research (WISERD). Here I had a diverse and varied role, working on multiple research and knowledge exchange projects – often at the same time! Through funders including the ESRC and Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), I explored my passion for governance and policy through research into social housing, urban regeneration and safeguarding young people. After three years at Cardiff, I then spent the next three at University of Southampton as a Research Fellow within the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC), funded by the ESRC, Office for Civil Society and Barrow Cadbury Trust. Here, I project managed a work stream of three interrelated projects which focused around the environment and the third sector. Other interests include supporting local charities, having fun on the beach (and sometimes in the sea), walking (preferably up mountains), hanging out with my friends/family (one baby boy, one husband, one Jack Russell and two cats), experimenting with new recipes, going to gigs and trying to understand rugby.

Mr. Paul Edwards

Head of Strategy, Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP
Paul is Head of Strategy at the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) where he oversees the policy development and delivery of the LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan, aiming to help make Greater Birmingham a leading, global city region by 2030. He is a member of the Steering Group for the Local Industrial Strategy for the West Midlands and leads on implementation planning for five of the key sectors to the West Midlands economy and two of the identified major new market opportunities. Implementation of the Local Industrial Strategy for the West Midlands focuses on opportunities for the region to be at the forefront of the future UK economy. Prior to working at the LEP, Paul led the knowledge exchange team at the University of Birmingham, focused on encouraging academics to work with SMEs and securing Innovate UK and European Regional Development Fund monies to enable that activity.

Mr. Ieuan Jones

Former MP, AM and Deputy First Minister for Wales, Bangor University
A native of Denbigh, Ieuan has lived in Ynys Môn (Anglesey) since 1985. After qualifying as a solicitor, he became a partner in a Vale of Clwyd practice until 1987. He was elected as the MP for Ynys Môn in June of that year. He piloted a private members bill through Parliament and his Hearing Aid (Amendment) Bill was enacted in 1989. He was also a member of the Agriculture and Welsh Affairs Select Committees. He was a trustee of the Industry and Parliament trust. He was elected to the National Assembly for Wales in 1999 and was the inaugural Chair of the Assembly’s Rural Affairs Committee. He became the leader of Plaid Cymru-The Party of Wales in 2000 a post he held until 2012. In 2007 he joined the Welsh Government as part of the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition and became Deputy First Minister and Minister for the Economy and Transport. He was responsible for refocusing the government’s policy on economic development with its emphasis on innovation and commercialisation through the publication of ‘Economic Renewal: A New Direction’ in 2010. He stepped down from the Assembly in 2013 to set up the Menai Science Park (trading as M-SParc). The science park is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bangor University and aims to provide accommodation and support services for growing new and existing businesses in the fields of science and technology. The first building, which opened its doors in March 2018 is now virtually full and there are plans to develop the site with new buildings to be occupied by businesses in the low carbon sector. Ieuan stepped down as Executive Director in May 2018 and now chairs the M-SParc Board.

Mr. Kevin Richardson

Local Growth Consultant, UK Research and Innovation
Kevin joined HEFCE as Local Growth Consultant in April 2014. He acts as the key adviser on policy and strategy relating to all local growth issues. Well known across the sector, he supports HEIs as anchor institutions to make their optimal contribution to local growth. Kevin is responsible for the liaison with relevant departments of central government and national agencies. Previously, as secondee to the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), Kevin represented the interests of local partners across England within the cross-departmental team, developing the current programme period for ESIF. Kevin was the lead author of the national strategy for Smart Specialisation in England. Kevin is a Visiting Fellow at Newcastle University in the school of Geography, Politics and Sociology. Previous to his position at BIS, Kevin managed the Central Policy Unit at Newcastle City Council for more than ten years. He began his working life as an underground coal miner.

Mr. John Rogers

Director of Research and Innovation Services, University of Stirling
John has worked in Higher Education management and administration for over 20 years. He is currently Director of Research and Innovation Services at the University of Stirling where he has responsibility for an integrated portfolio covering strategy and policy, grant and contract funding, research assessment, researcher development, research governance and integrity, knowledge exchange, intellectual property and commercialisation. He is a member of the Scottish Funding Council Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee, Chair of the Board of Stirling University Innovation Park and Deputy Chair of the Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA) UK. Prior to joining Stirling John worked at the University of Manchester, where he was responsible for student recruitment, public relations, international relations and research support. John’s earlier career was spent as the national manager of the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise and before that at the University of Aberdeen in a variety of roles.

Mr. James Tooze

Policy Officer, Campaign for Science and Engineering
James joined CaSE in July 2017, working across all aspects of CaSE’s policy work. Prior to joining, James worked as a Policy Researcher for the Society of Chemical Industry. He studied for an undergraduate degree in Chemistry, before completing a Masters in Science Communication and Public Engagement at the University of Edinburgh.

Ms. Rachel Tyrrell

Head of Knowledge Exchange Team, Research England
Rachel Tyrrell is Associate Director of Knowledge Exchange (KE) at Research England, UKRI and Programme Director for the UKRI Strength in Places Fund. She is responsible for overseeing the KE policy team, working with the Director of KE. The team supports the higher education sector to enhance its work with businesses, public sector and local communities for the benefit of the economy and society. The work of the team includes the development of the KE Framework (KEF) and the allocation of formula funding, Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF). She is also responsible for leading a cross-UKRI team in the development and delivery of the Strength in Place Fund (SIPF), one of the first new cross-UKRI schemes. SIPF is distinctive, in that it takes a place-based approach to research and innovation funding, driven by business need that can be met by research strengths About Rachel Rachel has a degree from the University of the West of England in Linguistics and English, and a Masters in Language and Lexicography from the University of Birmingham. Previous roles include Head of Knowledge Exchange at the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), and positions at the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) involving multidisciplinary research and postgraduate training.
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