“Explore, dream, discover” was the Mark Twain-inspired message delivered by the University of Plymouth’s Vice-Chancellor in her annual public address to the City this week.
Professor Wendy Purcell said that the institution would continue to champion the city’s spirit of “discovery” and actively seek out opportunities to use its expertise for the good of the economy and wider society.
Speaking to an invited audience of over 250 at the Roland Levinsky Building on Thursday night, Professor Purcell reflected on how far the University had come since its inception in 1862, and set out its exciting enterprise and innovation roadmap for the future.
She said: “Looking back on our history, we have remained true to our region’s needs, and in doing so have developed world-class expertise.
“But the City is changing; while we were defined by the sea and exploration in the past, we will be defined by a different type of discovery in the future – we will be defined by enterprise and innovation.”
Professor Purcell cited a number of leading examples of how the University had transcended the education sector to engage directly with business, community and environmental projects.
Aside from being one of the region’s largest employers, she showcased how the institution had supported businesses and individuals via its Enterprise Solutions team, and helped small businesses bid for public sector contracts via the Sell2Plymouth initiative. It had also been awarded 250 graduate internship places – the largest of any university in the region – and had an enviable track record with running Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.
And Professor Purcell highlighted Plymouth’s mission to be the ‘enterprise university’, referencing its leading role in the Plymouth Science and Innovation Programme, its partnership with the Tamar Science Park in managing Cornwall’s first innovation centre in Pool, and its joint-leadership of the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry.
She said: “Our mission is right for the region. We are committed to driving social inclusion, to undertaking world-class research and championing innovation and sharing knowledge, to educating people for their chosen professions and helping them become global citizens.”
Professor Purcell emphasised the crucial link between universities and their communities and stakeholders, and said it was vital that they stepped out of the "ivory towers of the past" to promote fairness, equity and social cohesion.
She said: “As universities we must show how we are firmly connected with people and place. There is now a deep awareness of how learning can transform lives and help society make progress.”
Paying tribute to the work of University academics such as Professor Iain Stewart, whose BBC series such as ‘How Earth Made Us’ have helped to bring subjects such as geology to an audience of millions, Professor Purcell added:
“We are inspired and indeed shaped by the people, the places and the world around us. Our University motto ‘Explore, Dream, Discover’ captures our ambition and reflects our location and history of seeking out new things.”