Economic Impact

Engaging with business and boosting the local economy

With more than 22,000 students enrolled at the University, and 3,400 staff at our campuses and sites across the county, the University of Derby is a significant contributor to the local economy.

Around 6,000 new and returning students choose to locate themselves in Derby, living in one of the 2,700 spaces provided in our halls of residence or the 3,500 available for students in the city's private rented housing sector.

Aside from the income generated by the presence of our staff and students, which provides a boost to our local economy, we also work with businesses to help them recruit talented graduates or undergraduate interns, to carry out research which can help develop new products and services, as well as to access funding that creates much-needed new jobs.

And, as the city plans its recovery from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the national lockdown, the University of Derby is at the heart of that process too.

Student reflected in screen showing market information
icon£2.88m in Invest to Grow funding for 35 companies
icon192 jobs created by businesses with the support of Invest to Grow
iconMember of the Derby Economic Recovery Task Force
iconSmall Business Charter accreditation
icon£724,000 funding secured for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
icon382 businesses hosted at Banks Mill Studio over 20 years

Funding business growth

Supporting business happens in many ways, but helping companies to access finance through grants is arguably the most direct means of assistance.

During the last academic year, the University's Invest to Grow Scheme, designed to support private sector businesses across the region to innovate, grow and create jobs, provided £2.88m in direct funding support to 35 local companies, enabling those firms to leverage a further £15m of private sector funding and provide an additional 192 jobs.

It also marked a significant milestone for the scheme, achieving its ten-year job creation target of approximately 1,900 new posts within the economy four years ahead of schedule.

Since opening for applications in 2015, the scheme has made 230 awards, totalling £26.1m to businesses across the East Midlands region. This has seen more than 1,900 full time jobs created and safeguarded so far, with £98m of private sector funding injected into the East Midlands economy.

Invest to Grow is also a delivery partner, along with EMB Group and the Derby Enterprise Growth Fund, for the Growth Innovation Programme which is receiving up to £6.5m from the European Regional Development Fund to specifically support businesses in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

Case study

Ilkeston-based Dales Fabrication designs and manufactures an extensive range of standard and bespoke aluminium building products, and works across the UK with architects and contractors to enhance the appearance of buildings.

The company received £42,000 of Invest to Grow funding to install an improved in-house powder coating plant and updated guillotine operation. The installation had led to the creation of four new jobs, including posts for two apprentices - one of whom is a University of Derby graduate.

With the new machinery in place, Dales, which continued manufacturing during the pandemic lockdown, aimed to increase turnover.

Find out more about Invest to Grow.

Supporting small businesses

The University of Derby Business School is an active supporter of the small and medium-sized business sector (SMEs).

This was confirmed by the School’s Small Business Charter accreditation, but also demonstrated in its provision of the Small Business Leadership Programme, which aims to help firms achieve the resilience they need to recover from the impact of COVID-19.

The programme is delivered by a consortium of SBC-accredited business schools with the support of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, enables business leaders to develop their firm's potential for future growth and productivity, while strengthening their own strategic leadership skills.

The pursuit of clean and green growth is at the heart of the D2N2 Local Industrial Strategy, and the University has responded by launching the De-Carbonise Project, in partnership with Derby City and Derbyshire County councils, enabling companies to make the changes they need to contribute to the reduction in harmful emissions and reduce their energy costs.

The project only began in late 2019, but has already carried out work with a number of SMEs, which has led to a reduction in carbon emissions of over 1,000 tonnes.

Another key issue for employers is the wellbeing of their employees. The University is leading the Mental Health and Productivity Pilot, a project backed by the Midlands Engine, and available to companies across the region.

The programme aims to support those experiencing mental illness to either remain engaged and productive at work, or successfully transition back to work after a period of absence.

Employers are being encouraged to adapt six mental health at work standards, each with a series of actions designed to benefit their staff and the organisation as a whole.

The DRIVEN project, which offers £1,000 to help Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire companies to recruit recent graduates with the skills they need to develop their business, adapted to the pandemic by introducing remote working internships, making it easier for more companies to recruit graduate talent.

Ethical ice-cream company Just-Ice are one of the local companies who have recruited graduates through DRIVEN.

The University was able to identify and help recruit a current PhD student with the skills to help Just-Ice put its ideas into practice, while also providing the student with vital work experience which matched his area of study. 

In addition, the University itself purchased goods and services from around 500 companies and organisations across the city and county, many of them small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and aims to increase the proportion of its overall trading activity with local suppliers in the years to come.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs), which help companies to find the graduate talent they need to address a specific business need, were supported by grants obtained by the University from Innovate UK, the government agency which funds collaboration between business and the higher education sector.

Four major KTPs were secured during the 2019/20 academic year, supported by a total of £724,000 in Innovate UK funding.

Among the new partnerships led by Derby was a project with financial technology firm Aquis Exchange PLC to use artificial intelligence to monitor trading in the financial markets.

Using machine learning, the study of computer algorithms which adapt and improve through experience, the project aims to enhance the company's ability to study behaviour and identify abuses within financial markets.

The partnership was backed by a £151,000 government grant delivered by Innovate UK, with the University taking on the task of recruiting recent graduates with the skills required to ensure that Aquis remains a specialist provider of innovative technology to the finance sector. Find out more about the collaboration

Another of the schemes is working with Chatsworth to assess the local economic impact of the estate, which is one of Derbyshire's most visited tourist attractions.

In this scheme, the graduate associate would be supported by two economics academics from the University to create mechanisms for data collection and measurement to make it possible for the stately home's economic impact work to be done in-house, rather than having to hire external consultants, which had been done in the past.

Find out more about how Knowledge Transfer Partnerships support business

Celebrating start-ups

Banks Mill Studios, a complex of office and workshop space owned by the University, marked 20 years of supporting new creative businesses in the city.

Since opening in 1999, the building has accommodated 382 business, 135 of them set up by University of Derby graduates.

It marked its two decades as an entrepreneurial hub, home to 72 tenants and members, by hosting an Open Studios event exhibiting work from 50 different artists, designers, makers and creative services providers.

Find out more about the Banks Mill Studios celebrations.

Driving innovation

The University supports innovation in the business sector in a variety of ways.

Having already agreed three Knowledge Transfer Partnerships with the University, Bloc Digital, which specialises in immersive technology, including augmented and virtual reality products for business, has relocated its visualisation studio to the University's Enterprise Centre.

The company regarded the move as building on its research partnerships with the University, and providing the potential for on-going collaboration to put it in strategic position to continue its innovation and investment in new visualisation and immersive technology.

The University confirmed its support for plans to develop a permanent £15m Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Derby, developing solutions for a range of industries, including automotive, rail, aerospace and renewable energy, and collaborating with the higher education sector on renewable energy and decarbonising transport initiatives.

The new permanent base the iHub at Infinity Park would create around 70 jobs and would accommodate the University's Institute for Innovation in Sustainable Engineering (IISE).

IISE was also named as one of the partners in a £1.2m UK Research and Innovation-funded project to develop tools which will benefit the production of space and aircraft.

The Institute is providing advanced materials and processing expertise support for the project, led by Hampshire-based firm TISICS.

At the heart of our city's recovery

When the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide lockdown on our economy began to emerge, the University joined the city council, Marketing Derby, Rolls Royce and other partners to form an Economic Recovery Task Force to work with the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, East Midlands Chamber and the government to develop proposals for the city's recovery.

The task force laid out its proposals to produce a more resilient and greener local economy.

In July, Vice-Chancellor Professor Kathryn Mitchell DL joined representatives of strategic partner organisations, including local MPs, to meet the Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, who had been invited by the Task Force to visit the city discuss the Derby's plans to 'build back better'.

The city council has already taken a significant step towards the creation of the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, which would accommodate the University's Institute for Innovation in Sustainable Engineering.

The centre is viewed as a key part of the city's post-Covid economic recovery strategy and would provide businesses with access to cutting edge research and development facilities to help them diversify, grow and create new jobs.

The University has also given its support for the city's strategic aim of becoming a centre of excellence and innovation for 'Future Fuels' technology, using the city's advanced manufacturing expertise to revolutionise the way low-carbon energy is used to power businesses, transport and homes.