Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, is the new Chair of the Oxford to Cambridge Arc Universities Group, taking over from Professor Sir Peter Gregson of Cranfield University. The Arc Universities Group brings together leaders from nine universities, working with government and industry to support inclusive and sustainable growth in a region of national economic significance.
With the announcements that a spatial framework plan is being formed for the region, a Growth Body is being established and that the Arc is now one of four Government-led Project Speed ‘Pathfinder Projects’, there is increased interest and potential investment into the region, with an ambitious programme of sustainable economic growth planned.
Bringing benefits to the whole region
Professor Fitt says: “The Arc is about bringing benefits to the entire area that the region spans, and extending this into the UK as a whole. The skills we develop, the facilities and expertise in our universities, the research innovation and partnerships with industry all play a crucial part in developing the region for the long term. As we begin to recover from COVID-19, I see the Arc universities as key drivers for progress and economic growth. It’s an exciting time to take on this role and I look forward to seeing how the Arc Universities Group continues to make an impact and help the entire region realise its potential.”
Local analysis suggests that by 2050, the economic output of the Oxford to Cambridge region could double, to over £200 billion. The region is key to the UK’s national prosperity and international competitiveness, with an above average level of productivity and a raft of new technology companies. Universities in the region, contributing £13 billion to the economy each year, are a key driver for start-ups, innovation and rapid collaborations as evidenced in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Universities play a pivotal role
Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University and the outgoing chair of the group said: “It has been a privilege to have led the Arc Universities Group since its inception, and I am delighted to be handing over the reins to Professor Alistair Fitt. The Universities are playing a pivotal role in the region’s future, with their strength coming from such a diverse mix of institutions, informed by our hugely influential partnerships with business and governments. With careful, confident and targeted intervention and encouragement, the Oxford to Cambridge Arc has the potential to become an Innovation Powerhouse.”
Councillor Barry Wood, Chair of the Arc Leaders Group and Leader of Cherwell District Council said: “The Arc Leadership Group has set out a collective bold and ambitious agenda for environmentally sustainable and innovation-led growth within the Arc. This is ever-more important as the country responds to significant challenges of combating climate change, protecting public health and rebuilding our economy. Through collaboration and partnership with the Arc Universities Group, we can work together to enhance the lives of our residents, improve our environment and increase the global opportunities for our businesses. I look forward to working with Alistair Fitt to create a better future for our region.”