Students at Plymouth University and growing businesses working closely with the University-led Growth Acceleration and Investment Network (GAIN) were inspired after meeting The Duke of York.
His Royal Highness’s recent visit to Plymouth University gave him the opportunity to learn more about the many businesses benefiting from the University’s award-winning focus on pioneering business development.
Plymouth University’s enterprise agenda led it to found GAIN in conjunction with Plymouth City Council and the Tamar Science Park. The network acts as an innovation and enterprise eco-system, supporting growing businesses and linking people with ideas with academic expertise and investors to boost economic stimulation and job growth.
Businesses who have benefitted from GAIN support talked with The Duke of York during his visit, which included a tour of the University’s £19million Marine Building, which opened last year and includes world-class wave tank facilities able to support advanced product testing.
His Royal Highness began his visit with a tour of the University’s Formation Zone – recently awarded UKBI accreditation for the work it does to nurture new and developing businesses – and met with a number of fledgling and growing businesses including creative and marketing agency Altitude, and three young entrepreneurs running their own T-shirt production company, The INDI Project.
Praising the work going on in the Formation Zone, The Duke of York said.
“With a centre like this, I think Plymouth has got itself into a leading position and will continue to show leadership.We need to grow businesses for the future to take over from the big ones that are there at the moment.If we don’t breed that next generation and give them the support in areas and technologies that people haven’t thought about, we are not going to be in the forefront, it’s as simple as that.”
His Royal Highness then toured the Marine Building and heard more from Professor Julian Beer, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Regional Enterprise, about how GAIN is supporting entrepreneurship and business growth.
The Duke of York also met Ian McFadzen, Head of the Marine Innovation Centre (MARIC) launched in April 2013 to better connect industry, expertise, academic research and facilities to drive growth in the South West’s marine, maritime and renewable energy sectors.
Mr McFadzen said.
“During his visit, His Royal Highness met with innovative wave energy device developers 40South Energy Ltd and WITT Energy Ltd. The Duke of York demonstrated a sound understanding of the technical challenges faced by the companies, and spent time learning about each business.
The companies were delighted to have the opportunity to discuss their technologies and business initiatives with His Royal Highness.”
40South Energy was based in the University’s Formation Zone for more than a year before moving on to larger premises, and the company continues to work with the MARIC and Marine Building team towards its first UK deployment.
Dr Michele Grassi, Chief Executive of 40South Energy, told The Duke of York that his firm’s wave energy device was about to be tested in the sea off the Italian cost, following early trials in the wave tank in Plymouth.
WITT Energy Ltd also spoke to His Royal Highness about the support they received from GAIN, MARIC and Plymouth University to help develop their award-winning marine renewable energy device.
Mairi Wickett, Managing Director of WITT, said.
“It was wonderful to meet The Duke of York and talk to him. He was very interested in the WITT device and the demonstrator we brought along to show him and asked a lot of questions.His Royal Highness also offered to keep in touch and said he was keen to support us, which was fantastic news and we were delighted with his interest.”