Potential economic benefits from Northumberland’s increasingly elderly population will be examined in a new partnership between academics and council bosses.
Newcastle University’s world-leading research into ageing is to be harnessed in a bid to discover how the county can make the most of its growing numbers of over-60s.
This will include the county council working with university academics in areas such as encouraging older people to start their own businesses. It will also involve collaborating on how to attract investment to Northumberland from companies which provide goods and services to support healthy ageing.
Ageing is just one of the areas to be analysed as part of the new strategic partnership agreement between the university and council.
The overall aim is to help Northumberland communities, schools and businesses access support from the university, and develop important research in the county. It will explore areas where collaboration between the partners could be beneficial, and formally align the two organisations in addressing specific issues.
Under the agreement, Northumberland firms will be given help to meet their current and future skills needs by working with university academics. They will also benefit from graduate talent through paid placements and internships.
Part of the link-up involves the partners working together to build links with local schools, and raise awareness of the opportunities available at a research-intensive university.
It seeks to build on the university’s existing links with Northumberland, which include agriculture-based research, teaching and production facilities at Cockle Park near Morpeth and Nafferton Farm at Stocksfield.
The university is also part of a joint project with the council at the Port of Blyth, which will provide a permanent base for its marine research vessel, The Princess Royal.
Using money from the European Fisheries Fund, the scheme involves developing the harbour area to support skills training and tourism development.
University vice-chancellor, Prof Chris Brink, said: “Newcastle University has a long history of collaboration in Northumberland, and has made significant investment in developing a number of research and teaching facilities over many years.
“One such venture is Cockle Park Farm at Morpeth, which is set to become the major centre for our agricultural research and teaching. It is also home to a number of innovative projects, including an anaerobic digestion plant which generates power from the farm’s livestock waste.
“This agreement will build on these developments and deepen our relationship with the council, in order to align our activities to those areas that matter most to the county and its citizens. As a civic university, our mission is to put our research and teaching to a purpose in society and that is what we want to achieve in Northumberland.”
Council chief executive, Steve Stewart, said: “This agreement is a welcome step in helping the council to drive forward its goals of achieving economic, social and environmental regeneration across the county.
“The partnership will enable us to focus on joint activity which will reap benefits in terms of better outcomes for residents and businesses.”