I would like to return to one of my favourite subjects around the value of impact from our research and innovation. The on-going pandemic really emphasises the importance of having societal impact and if there was ever a time for universities to have impact, then it is now! 

Locally, I am so proud of the range of impacts we are having as a university including the manufacture of new face-shields, RNA sequencing of the virus, providing additional health professionals, economic and social advice, engaging with key policy-makers and supporting our local communities. Please see the details on our constantly updated coronavirus webpage. I am now chairing weekly university-wide meetings to collect and update this growing list of impacts. Feel free to contact me with any new initiatives.

Nationally, the government has rightly recognised the importance of university research and innovation to our response to the pandemic. UKRI are providing significant additional flexibility within existing research grants to start novel coronavirus activity, as well as providing dedicated new funding for people to rapidly address the health, social, economic, cultural and environmental impacts of the coronavirus outbreak. Therefore, there are significant extra resources for people to get involved including our own thematic research areas which can also provide some immediate assistance and advice. So please, get involved.

When we consider what impact we can have, both individually, and as an institution, I would like to take this moment to highlight our fantastic results in the latest Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings which globally ranked universities based on their impact of delivering the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This is the first time we have submitted ourselves for this league table – arguably one of the more important league tables for a modern global university – so I am very happy to announce we were 23rd in SDG16 (Peace, Justice and strong institutions) from 766 universities across 85 countries. We are ranked 5th for UK universities in this category.

We also excelled in SDG8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) being ranked 55th in the world, or 9th within the UK. Overall, we were ranked in the top 101-200 band of universities in the world across all 17 SDGs considered, which was based on our submission to only five of these goals. 

I am sure you will join me in congratulating our colleagues in this recognition of impact which once again demonstrates that we are passionate about our place in the world and how we can influence it. The coronavirus pandemic just reinforced that need to influence and seek impact. Stay safe.