During the first week of this phase of easing the lockdown, the country and the University has moved onto a new footing, with a sense of cautious optimism and planning for the future.
With that in mind, and as a key part of our Positive Response Planning, I am delighted to tell you that The Strathclyde Innovation Forum has launched this week.
Being innovative is one of our core values that underpin the way we work and The Strathclyde Innovation Forum will enhance and formalise our approach to innovation. It encourages all University colleagues, across every staff category and job type, to communicate and share our innovative ideas, both as individuals and in teams. It will be a permanent feature of our organisation to make our work more efficient, our jobs more enjoyable and, ultimately, our University more successful.
Periodically, as part of the Innovation Forum, we will set a ‘Grand Challenge’ – a question or issue which the University is facing and which staff innovation can help to solve. Given the current situation for our country and our University, the first Challenge for the Strathclyde Innovation Forum relates to the COVID-19 pandemic; we want your ideas on how we manage a safe and effective phased return over the months ahead. To find out more and to submit your ideas, please visit the Innovation Forum website. I would strongly encourage you to get involved as we innovate and collaborate together and support the institutional journey back to the campus.
The work of the Return and Resume Development Group has accelerated significantly in the past week with the Group’s chair, Veena O’Halloran presenting progress and a route map to Senate.
With multiple work streams now operating, the scale and complexity of the work ahead to make the campus safe for a gradual return should not be underestimated. These work streams include Campus Readiness, Ways of Working, Safeguarding Induction, Catering and Campus Travel. An update on our Return and Resume Planning will feature in my ongoing Staff Engagement Sessions; new dates have now been added and you can sign up on the Staff Engagement Sessions web page.
Our frontline staff on campus are playing a key role in the return planning and I thank them again for their commitment and professionalism. As we put safety at the heart of our return, please remember that the majority of us will remain working from home for the coming months.
The University continues to play a role in the higher education sector’s recovery and I was pleased to be asked to give evidence to the Education and Skills Committee of the Scottish Parliament last week, along with a few other University Principals. Universities are central to the economic recovery and investment in research, teaching and innovation is more important than ever to help restart our economy and seek out opportunities at home and internationally. Strathclyde is very well placed to play a leading role and it was a productive session, with MSPs engaging positively with the issues.
Away from COVID-19, this week has seen significant milestones reached in the delivery of an anchor project in one of our two Innovation Districts. John Reid has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, to lead the transformation of Scotland’s manufacturing and engineering community from its facility at the heart of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District at Inchinnan. Alongside this, the funding agreement has been concluded and the contract for construction of the facility has been awarded to Morrison Construction. I was particularly pleased to see that the NMIS progress was announced and recognised by the First Minister at her daily media conference last Friday.
These achievements were delivered by a huge number of colleagues from across the faculties and professional services, working closely with external partners. Much of this work has been done since lockdown and it is a testament to our professionalism that despite the recent challenges, delivery has remained on track. It is an example of Strathclyders staying focused on meeting objectives for Vision 2025 and I am proud of the whole team who made this possible.
Please make the most of your rest day tomorrow and I look forward to hearing further examples of how the University community innovates and delivers as we move through the coming weeks and months.