A perfect match

Newcastle University is part of the unique Newcastle Helix partnership alongside Legal & General and Newcastle City Council. Together they work to help us all live better lives. Dean of Engagement & Place at Newcastle University, Jane Robinson talks to us about the importance of the business and academic relationship and how this will add value to occupiers who chose to locate in The Lumen.

Newcastle Helix has been described as a development that will change Newcastle’s future. What role will the Lumen play?

New buildings like The Lumen increase our capacity for research, education, and engagement.

The Lumen provides a space where companies can grow and innovate - surrounded by hundreds of researchers in our vibrant and forward-thinking city centre. Businesses don’t want to stand still; they want to diversify and enter new markets; The Lumen is a place where they can make that happen.

This building will play a significant role in helping us attract businesses from across the globe who want to be part of the Newcastle Helix story. This will help us build a critical mass and further position Newcastle as a place to innovate.

Its high quality, sustainable design aligns with the ethos of Newcastle Helix and provides the muchneeded infrastructure to facilitate the inclusive growth of our economy.

It’s not just the quality of buildings that are attracting businesses to Newcastle Helix it’s the unique eco-system. How do you ensure successful academic and business engagement?

The fact that it is driven by a partnership that has shared vision. From the earliest days of Newcastle Helix, the drive for collaboration has come from the collective skills, expertise, and connections of Newcastle University, Newcastle City Council and Legal & General.

The site itself has been developed in a way to encourage collaboration, through shared spaces, coworking, facilities, and opportunities to engage.

Newcastle University has a strong track record in connecting businesses and academics. It’s mutually beneficial: academic insight is invaluable to businesses who are looking to innovate. And academics gain valuable insight to the business world’s practices and challenges.

Explain how businesses benefit from university talent and vice versa?

Businesses can access world leading academic expertise to innovate and solve problems. For example, through data or ageing intelligence, they can adapt products and services, enter new markets, focus on solutions, and provide organisations with increased capability, knowledge, and expertise. Academics gain insights into new challenges facing industry. As more global businesses engage with Newcastle Helix, more international academics are choosing to come to Newcastle, creating a virtuous circle: new businesses, new talent, and a better future for our city.

How are you closing the gap between academic research and commercial innovation?

The site itself is a living laboratory, with projects and experiments running at scale, in real time. Infrastructure, urban planning, data, and ageing are themes of our research and by locating alongside businesses, we not only close the physical gap between academic research and commercial innovation but create opportunities to innovate and collaborate.

Newcastle Helix creates the right environment where academics, businesses and citizens can colocate. For example, The National Innovation Centre for Data works with businesses to understand data and build capacity to innovate. And VOICE - part of National Innovation Centre for Ageing - engages citizens, helping businesses to innovate and test new ideas in real time with end-users.

The Urban Observatory is a key part of Newcastle being a smart city, helping us to understand urban spaces and how we can plan and develop sustainably. These in turn identify commercial opportunities, create jobs and innovations that help people live better for longer.

Newcastle Helix is greater than the sum of its parts and each new addition adds to what we can offer as a city and a partnership. It is the perfect match.

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