With Christmas four weeks away now, and the national focus this week having been on the Government’s guidance for the festive period, our University’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been stepped up once again.
Colleagues across the University have been working around the clock, from taking part in national discussions about the safe travel of students, to manufacturing critical PPE for our community and organisations across Scotland.
The major task of ensuring that students who will be travelling home for Christmas have access to asymptomatic tests – critical in ensuring that those who want to spend the festive season with their families or in another household can do so – is also well underway.
The deployment of our Campus Covid-19 Asymptomatic Testing Centre in The Barony is being achieved thanks to the dedication and professionalism of our staff. The Centre will be operational from next week – and its delivery is due to the same qualities that have been on display at Strathclyde since the beginning of the pandemic. Significant numbers of colleagues from across the University have put enormous effort into getting the Centre ready, and I would like to thank them for everything they have done to make this possible.
Earlier this week I made a call for volunteers to help with this ambitious project and the response has been fantastic, with almost 100 Strathclyders coming forward. Our collaborative and people-oriented values have been so obvious as colleagues from across the institution have come together to help.
Thanks to our volunteers, the students who take the test will know that they are keeping their families, friends and home communities as safe as possible as they go home for the holidays.
This week has also seen an important development in the key work that colleagues have carried out to support the production and distribution of PPE for frontline workers across Scotland. Supply has now reached a steady state, allowing Ivan McKee, Scottish Government Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, to stand down the emergency group brought together in March to respond to the NHS PPE supply chain challenges.
This effort saw significant involvement from colleagues from the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) in the rapid, ground-breaking work to build a Scottish PPE supply chain to help the national effort. Their work ensured stocks of PPE items were going to frontline health services during the emergency period.
From a starting position of almost all PPE used in Scotland having to be imported, now nearly half of all the PPE supplied to Scottish users will be manufactured in Scotland. As well as being involved in this project, the NMIS team also supplied the University with visors for those students and staff who are unable to wear face coverings.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone from NMIS involved in this incredible effort and to recognise their significant achievement.
We are now well into the first week of Glasgow’s move to Protection Level 4. The changes to protection levels will remain in place for three weeks until Friday 11 December 2020. The new restrictions aim to protect the NHS and enable the Scottish Government to relax some of the rules on household meetings over the Christmas period. There is a summary here of how Protection Level 4 impacts on our campus and the wider implications on other areas, including travel.
The Government has once again recognised the importance of the work of universities and we remain open to deliver restricted blended learning and our essential research activities.
Earlier this year, the Executive Team and I decided that the annual Accountability and Development Review process should continue in 2020. This is an important opportunity for everyone to have a conversation to recognise their contribution, agree future priorities and discuss development needs. It’s of particular significance this year that this important channel of communication remains open, especially as we had to flex priorities as the Covid situation developed. Most staff have now completed their ADR.
Owing to the impact of the pandemic, we recognise that this year’s ADR process may not yet be complete for everyone and that it may be challenging for some to complete this before the end of 2020. Given the importance of everyone having this opportunity to discuss both their development and to identify any support that they may need, the Executive Team has decided to extend the timescale for the completion of outstanding ADRs to the end of February.
Earlier this week I was delighted to see that the newly-launched Scottish National Investment Bank (SNIB) has chosen M Squared Lasers, based in the Inovo building, to receive the bank’s first investment. Founded by Strathclyde alumnus Dr Graeme Malcolm, M Squared is a photonics and quantum technology company based in Glasgow City Innovation District. M Squared will receive an investment of £12.5m from the new bank for capital growth.
They were identified as being at the very forefront of Scottish technology firms and the investment is a signal of confidence in their work, much of which is in close collaboration with Strathclyde. In a further boost, M Squared also received backing of £20m from Santander to fund their expansion and it is fantastic to see such success for a firm based in Scotland’s first Innovation District.
Finally this week, today has seen our annual Court Strategy Session take place. This occurs each November and is an opportunity for Court members to be updated on our progress against targets, to receive an update on priorities for the coming 12 months and to scan the horizon for the next phase of our development.
This year’s session focused on how to effectively support the delivery of Vision 2025 in a changed world. The discussions were based around the work of the Visioning and Positive Response Group and their five sub-groups, taking in significant and wide-ranging contributions from the Strathclyde Innovation Forum and Leadership Group.
Sessions focused on:
- Global Context and Distinctiveness
- Research and Innovation
- The Learner Journey
- Values and Culture
- Financial Sustainability and Optimal Diversification
The enthusiastic, informed and productive discussion has helped us to further focus for Vision 2025 and will increase our momentum as we move into 2021.
Thank you, as ever, for your continued efforts on behalf of our students, staff and the wider community and please enjoy your weekend.