University of Leicester

Highly Commended

Upskilling students to support Innovation for Good

Since launching in 2018 (and despite the pandemic), the Innovation for Good Programme, which upskills students to drive and deliver impactful sustainability support to SMEs across Leicester and Leicestershire, has continued to grow. It has formed the basis for a formal Living Labs process within the University and is now being delivered by three universities, with plans to roll out across the East Midlands with an easily replicable model.

NUS Survey data (Sustainability Skills Survey) found that students increasingly want to develop sustainability skills and real-world opportunities to hone them. Leicester’s business economy is dominated by SMEs that are keen to become more sustainable but lack the skills and resource to achieve this. They also increasingly report issues in recruiting staff with these skills.

The Innovation for Good Programme addresses both challenges by providing an avenue for businesses to incorporate sustainability and social impact when innovating their processes, new products, and services, whilst allowing the University to deliver impact and our students to gain invaluable experience and skills to take forward into their careers.

What the Judges Thought

The Judges are very happy to see universities collaborating for the benefit of local society and congratulate Leicester, Loughborough and De Montfort on creating a program that draws students into the world of sustainability and practical implementation.

The importance of being able to adapt this program to work during the pandemic and support SMEs who will have faced hardship during this time cannot be understated and the judges are glad to see the empowerment of the STEM community for future sustainable careers.

What it Means to Win

“Encouraging sustainable innovation to upskill our students is a key way the University of Leicester is creating green pathways to success. This award is a testament to the outstanding leadership by the team and it provides exciting recognition for our students, inspiring them to become future global Citizens of Change.”

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President & Vice Chancellor

Top 3 Learnings

  1. Collaboration & partnerships are key.
  2. Students are the future of our workforce and upskilling them is important.
  3. External links are key to enhancement of innovative university projects.
8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth 9 - Industry Innovation and Infrastructure 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
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