In his latest blogpost Principal Professor Andrew Atherton illustrates how impact and innovation are complementing our great strengths in research and teaching.
We are strong in teaching and research, while delivering an outstanding student experience. That may seem obvious but, when you look across the higher education landscape, excelling at both teaching and research is rarer than you may initially think. A lot of places are very good at research but don’t rate well for student experience, and others offer outstanding teaching but without a deep research base. We rate highly on both, alongside a small group of universities.
We also do very well in innovation and impact, where on the available measures we are one of the strongest universities in the UK and, on two key measures, in the world.
In 2016 Reuters declared Dundee Scotland’s most innovative university. In 2018 we were named the world’s most influential research institution in pharmaceuticals by Clarivate Analytics. These assessments were undertaken independently and clearly show that Dundee leads in the innovation and impact space.
Then, just last month, we were ranked 20th in the world in Times Higher Education’s inaugural World Impact Rankings. As they note, these “are the only global performance tables that assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.”
There is a strong tradition at Dundee of motivating research by ‘real-world’ issues and problems, and a desire to do research that makes a difference. This extends beyond labels such as applied or translational research to more fundamental reasons why we undertake research.
What I have found in my visits to Schools across the University is a widespread ethos of research being done with, and for, a strong purpose, a primary goal of which is the desire to make a real impact in the world. I have heard how personal stories have become a spur to pursuing knowledge and making the breakthroughs.
We see this underpinning ethos in the success of spinout companies like Exscientia, which is growing at an impressive rate and is one of the stars of the biotech sector, having grown out of the laboratory of Professor Andrew Hopkins. We have others following it such as Amphista Therapeutics, which has come out of Professor Alessio Ciulli’s lab, and also Platinum Informatics, based on the work of Professor Angus Lamond and colleagues.
We are a partner in InGame (Innovation for Games and Media Enterprise), one of a small number of major AHRC grants designed to developed clusters of creative enterprises around University collaborations. InGame is an academic and industry R&D partnership that aims to drive new product, service and experience innovation for the videogames sector, a key economic sector for Dundee and Scotland.
There are many other examples across the University, including for example our work in augmentative and assistive technologies, giving a voice to those with the most severe communication difficulties; our partnership with Medtronic, one of the world’s largest medical technology companies, to promote high-quality medical education, training and product development; the `Hands of X’ project which designs made-to-order prosthetic hands in a range of materials and colours according to the wearers’ preference; our pioneering work in forensic science research; our collaborations with CERN and many more.
To give ourselves the best chance of creating even more impact, we must make sure the environment around us is capable of supporting growth. This is something we are addressing in various ways, and prominently through our Tay Cities Deal projects, which will create a new innovation hub and facilities for innovation in forensic sciences and in biomedicine.
We are a rare breed of university – excelling in all three aspects of higher education, namely teaching and student experience, research, and innovation and impact. Many universities are good or excellent in one or two of these dimensions, but very few in all three. This gives Dundee a distinctive edge we should celebrate and communicate more.