Select Committee on Science and Technology Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Bolton Institute


  1.  Bolton Institute is a higher educational institution comprising three Faculties:

    (i)  The Faculty of Arts, Sciences and Education;

    (ii)  The Faculty of Business; and

    (iii)  The Faculty of Technology.

  2.  Within two of these Faculties about 3,000 students study on courses leading to HND, BSc and MSc awards across the scientific and technological disciplines:

    —  automotive engineering;

    —  biological and environmental studies;

    —  civil and environmental engineering;

    —  construction;

    —  electronic and computer technology;

    —  design and mechanical technology;

    —  psychology; and

    —  textile technology.

  In addition, research teams work in each of these areas with over 70 research students registered for higher research degrees.

  3.  The evidence submitted in this memorandum relates only to those changes and initiatives arising from the White Paper that have impacted significantly upon the Institute and its development since 1993. As outlined below, this impact has been considerable in certain areas outlined.


  4.  The value of the creation of Technology Foresight has been recognised at various levels from involving selected (invited) staff to participate in the process to enabling the Institute to focus its science and technological activities in a more strategic fashion.

  5.  With regard to the latter, the Institute has always offered courses vocationally orientated to key regional wealth-creating sectors. It has generated consultancy and commercial activities in parallel with its curricular and research activities. By choice, research has always been of an applied character in order to address applied problems and Foresight has aided this focus.

  6.  The Foresight process and its prioritised agendas have enabled Institute academic staff to prioritise activities and to map these on to those of research and project initiative funders more effectively. For example, the clear statements within the Foresight Materials agenda have enabled the Institute to develop an UK presence in technical textiles research and gain related research funding from EPSRC and DTI in collaboration with industry and universities.

  7.  In addition, the Institute has taken a lead in the Foresight process for the UK textiles sector and this initiative has drawn together all relevant HEIs from across the UK as well as industrial representation.


  8.  Not unrelated to the above outcomes has been the development of technology transfer as a prime activity within the Faculty of Technology. Currently, technical expert advice and transfer are undertaken in each of the technological areas identified in paragraph 1 above.

  9.  Of particular note, is the significant expansion in microelectronics where Bolton Institute has been the DTI-designated North West centre for microelectronics in business since 1990. This DTI-supported technological transfer to the region's microelectronic engineering companies has been supplemented by EU funding under the FUSE programme. The Institute is recognised by the European funders as one of only a few "model" technology transfer modes within the Community.


  10.  The White Paper's focus on the need to improve access to SMEs has offered considerable opportunities for the Institute since 1993. Not only has it enabled the Institute's research and technology transfer activities to be focused upon this sector but also it has catalysed the development of SME-specific courses.

  11.  The MBA for Small Business was pioneered by the Faculty of Business during 1996 and is now providing a supply of highly trained managers for the SME sector.

  12.  Using an EPSRC IGDS (Integrated Graduate Development Scheme) award in 1996, the Faculty of Technology has developed and implemented the UK's first MSc in Advanced Microelectronics for Industry to be offered over the Internet and delivered to the workplace.

  13.  The Institute has more recently won funding from European (eg "The Virtual Centre", ADAPT programme to develop on-line management learning to extend the MBA in Small Business to the Internet) and regional development agency sources to develop skills and training packages with special focus on SMEs across the North West.

  14.  Based on its success in the above activities and its commitment to supporting the SME sector, the Institute has just appointed a Chair in SME Innovation within the Faculty of Business.


  15.  The Research Councils' commitment to wealth creation and the quality of life and their acknowledgement of the relevance of Foresight have enabled the Institute's new knowledge-based activities to map more closely on to these changed strategies. As a consequence, the winning of EPSRC and ESRC funding has increased significantly since 1993, with the majority of projects being in collaboration with external partners from the wealth-creating sectors.

  16.  The development of LINK along the lines of the White Paper proposals has enabled the Institute to participate in one successful Surface Engineering LINK programme (1996-99) and recently to be awarded a Foresight LINK project commencing in June 2000.


  17.  The Government's recognition of the importance of this has enabled the Institute to extend its activities into the public domain and to invite public participation in achieving elements of its mission.

  18.  More specifically, both formal and informal links have been forged with schools and colleges and these activities assist with the marketing of technologically-based courses and hence the recruitment of talented young people on to these.


  19.  The White Paper has had significant impact upon the work and development of a medium-sized HEI with a significant science and technology portfolio of activities like Bolton Institute. Of prime importance is the paper's recognition of the need for relevance of the science and technology base and especially the role of technology transfer to SMEs. The Institute has benefited from and exploited these issues with success.

  20.  Further consequences of the White Paper have been to enable the Institute to be recognised for its position as a major science and technology provider in the North West region and for it to compete successfully with its larger University—titled neighbours.

  21.  The Institute's commitment to new knowledge creation and application (including via technology transfer) is at the core of its recently published Strategic Plan, 1999-2005.

9 June 2000

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