Speech: Annual Review 2018 ‘A World of Collaboration,’ 30 January 2019

Keynote address

Distinguished guests and ladies and gentlemen, Good evening! I am delighted to welcome you all to our Annual Review, to celebrate our achievements of the past year, and to focus our efforts anew as we welcome another exciting but challenging year.

Tonight’s theme is ‘A World of Collaboration’.

At Surrey, our successes as a world-class university are dependent on collaborations. Thriving partnerships with government, business and other institutions are critical to the research and innovation, education, and entrepreneurship that change people’s lives. And when we talk about collaborations, ‘small’ does not mean ‘unimportant’: daily collaborations create ripples; ripples create networks, and networks make Surrey strong.

This is also true of our local partnerships with our community in Surrey. We directly affect our regional economy and society, from education and innovation to housing, health and social care. Our mission is to enrich the environment and community surrounding us, and to benefit from their support and partnership. We work towards this end every day.

Surrey today is a truly global university.

Our academics, students and alumni shine the spotlight on Guildford and Surrey through their work in veterinary medicine, musical theatre, 5G telecommunications, Artificial Intelligence, cybersecurity and nutrition, to name but a few.

We are proud to make a £1.75b contribution to the national economy by creating knowledge, jobs and partnerships; our Professional Training programme is one of the largest in the country, with over 2,300 providers in the UK and overseas.

World-leading research & measurable impact

Surrey has long been at the forefront of research and innovation that change lives for the better. Recently, for example, our world-leading Sleep Research Centre has developed a blood test to measure for sleep deprivation, which could help keep our roads and skies safer. The world’s first machine that turns Sign Language into written English will be built by Surrey’s renowned Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing. From the world’s first small satellite, to the quantum well laser, to the RemoveDebris project, our world-leading research has always been fruitful collaborations with sponsors and partners.

The 5G Innovation Centre is going from strength to strength, thanks to support from the UK government and numerous industrial partners. The £16m testbed can now support more than one million users – the largest capacity 5G test network in the world for research and development. This means that companies can now test their advanced applications of 5G technologies in an environment that’s as close to market as possible. We are also supporting three projects funded by the Government’s 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme, which aims to cement the UK’s position as a world leader in the development of 5G and its applications.

This year, our School of Veterinary Medicine graduates its first cohort of veterinary surgeons — not just “more vets,” but “Surrey vets!” In partnership with a network of vet clinics and practices, including Pirbright Institute and Fitzpatrick Referrals, Surrey vets are uniquely trained, confident and competent graduates. I know they will go on to make huge contributions to the world, like our 115,000 alumni around the globe have done.

The ‘Hollywood of Games’: an international hub

Some of you may know that Guildford is dubbed ‘the Hollywood of Games’ – it is one of the biggest and most established hubs of games activity in the UK. We are proud to host ‘Galvanising Guildford Games’ — the ‘G3’ Conference. Now in its 4th year, it enables collaboration between games developers and specialists from across the industry. It’s important to the UK economy that this vibrant games community continues to thrive, and that Guildford-based games studios are given the support they need to continue producing great games with global appeal.

Measuring up: impact & contribution 2017-18

We are proud to call Guildford home, and we are more engaged with our local community than ever. Did you know that the university employs over 3,400 people? Together with the Research Park, we supported some 17,800 jobs across the UK. And over 8,000 Surrey alumni live in the Guildford area. Our students alone raised more than £10k for our local charities last year. More than 100 thousand people annually come to our public events and sporting activities. This truly reflects our belief in thinking globally and acting locally, in fulfilling our mission to contribute to society.

The towns and businesses in Surrey are the ‘living laboratory’ for our research on everything from air pollution to dementia. Guildford and our surrounding towns are the first to hear about, and to benefit from, the University’s cutting-edge research in so many areas.

Further, we collaborate on a wide range of local activities. From the traditional to the unconventional, from informal partnerships to direct sponsorship, we are supporting innovation and collaboration all around us.

For example:

  • The University and Guildford Borough Council jointly created the Guildford Roll of Honour award, to celebrate Guildford’s thriving innovation culture and rich intellectual life. We were delighted to see Eagle Radio’s Peter Gordon recognised with this award in 2018 for his inspirational career, injecting positive energy and bringing people together in our community.
  • We sponsor Innovate Guildford, a free, one-day Science & Arts Festival showcasing advanced technologies and giving an insight into the amazing knowledge, innovation and creativity in the region.
  • Our music department presents Orchestra Day, an opportunity for local musicians to practise with players of all ages and skills. Just a few days ago, on 27 January, Orchestra Day celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of legendary American composer Leonard Bernstein.
  • The University has been a proud sponsor and supporter of the Guildford Book Festival since 1990.
  • And events like Bright Club and Pint of Science continue to amaze and entertain, while keeping our high-flyer academics out of trouble for a few nights.

‘Finding our Futures’ at Kings College

Just around the corner from us is Kings College, which needed help to improve its OFSTED ‘Inadequate’ rating in December 2016. The University, through a team led by Hannah Trott, provides students and parents with a better awareness of future options and support for learning. For a community dealing with many challenges, the difference between a failing school and a thriving one is enormous.  Working together with the University and other partners, Kings College achieved a dramatic transformation from ‘inadequate’ to ‘Good’ in 18 months.

The future of international tourism starts here

Our School of Hospitality & Tourism Management already leads the world, ranked one of the top 5 globally.  The new Learning Hotel due to be built in partnership will further strengthen its global position, and contribute to local and international tourism. The School will use this exciting facility as living labs for health and wellbeing research — for example, on sleep, nutrition and food science, exercise and technology, and data driven hotel and tourism management. This, combined with a state-of-the art teaching and learning hub, will give our students an exceptional world-class experience and further enhance their employability.

Collaborating with the world

We are a founding member of the University Global Partnership Network (UGPN). Last year we hosted the UGPN summit, a very productive event in enhancing collaborations in student exchange and research. Times Higher Education’s ‘Young Universities’ summit this year will bring some 250 university leaders from over 40 countries to Guildford to discuss how we can help shape the best possible future for our students and global society. Working together with partner institutions globally, we drive change and create opportunities for the future. We share the expertise of our world-class researchers, and actively cultivate new talent who aren’t afraid to take risks in addressing the grand challenges of our times.

Partnerships for the future

Last but not least, I would like to thank all our partners and supporters, including all of you here in this room.

Our corporate partners include the thousands of companies who place our students for their Professional Training Year, and the hundreds of companies that support our research and innovation projects.  We are also grateful to the many individuals who support our SETsquared partnership and Surrey 100 Club of angel investors, and the many generous donors who provide significant support for scholarships, research fellowships, equipment and projects.

Without you, our achievements would not be possible.

I could go on with a long list, but I am afraid you would be here all night!

To conclude, in today’s uncertain and challenging times, more than ever we rely on each other. Whilst someone across the Atlantic wants to build more walls, we’re about bringing down walls and building more bridges! Within organisations, we depend upon the talent and dedication of our people. Between organisations, we look to each other for new perspectives, shared resources and support. Very little of value can be achieved if we insist upon acting alone with our limited resources. When we form partnerships, we strengthen exponentially.

What will the world of collaboration be like tomorrow?

I am convinced that our future together will be even better — and indeed brilliant.   We look forward to working with each and every one of you in this room, and beyond, for a better future!

Thank you very much.