Loughborough University: 'Innovation has the power to improve lives'

January 31, 2024
min read
Professor Dan Parsons of Loughborough University

Loughborough University is somewhere that anyone can realise their full potential. 

It is consistently ranked among the top-performing institutions in the country and holds an array of awards and accolades.

These evidence its strength across all areas of delivery – including research and innovation, sport, teaching, student experience, and facilities.

The university has two outstanding campuses – its superb 500+ acre site in Loughborough and specialist postgraduate campus on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London.

Spanning the arts, humanities, business, social sciences, sport, health, science, engineering and mathematics, its research and innovation creates positive changes in communities worldwide.

Professor Dan Parsons, the University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, explained to Innovative Leicestershire the central role of innovation in the University’s strategy -and why it is sponsoring Leicestershire Innovation Festival 2024.

Why is innovation important to your organisation?

University research and innovation has the power to shape the future, address global challenges and improve people’s lives and safeguard livelihoods. 

One of the University’s most successful spinout companies, Previsico – 2020 Leicestershire Innovation Awards Innovator of the Year – is a prime example. 

The company’s pioneering flood forecasting technology enables prompt action to reduce the impact of flooding on homes and businesses, support more effective emergency response, and thus enhance community resilience.

The technology is underpinned by two decades of University research – with Leicestershire as the initial test site.

Its global HQ is on LUSEP, the University’s Science and Enterprise Park – and its technology is rolling out across the UK, America and South East Asia.

Success stories like Previsico clearly illustrate the importance of nurturing and supporting innovation and the underpinning research ecosystem.

How does your organisation encourage innovation?

Innovation is a key strand of our strategy, Creating Better Futures Together.

We want to ensure that the discoveries and inventions made by colleagues achieve their full societal and economic benefit. 

We do this by encouraging positive partnerships – with governments, businesses and charities – locally, nationally and globally.

These collaborations provide a route to maximising the adoption and positive impact of our academic research.

Innovation is encouraged across both of our campuses.

We support a spectrum of activity spanning student and graduate enterprise, academic spinouts, and research partnerships that nurture valuable intellectual property with organisations locally and further afield, nationally and internationally.

We offer enterprise education and training for both students and staff, via the Loughborough Enterprise Network, and initiatives like our Year in Enterprise programme.

We also provide bespoke workshops and ongoing support for academics.

LUSEP is home to more than 90 organisations – both start-ups and global brands – and a workforce of more than 2,500 people. 

It offers an unrivalled opportunity to join a dynamic innovation community with a world-class research base and first-class graduate recruitment pipeline.

LUinc. – the University’s business incubator – is also based on LUSEP.

It supports a range of fledgling businesses including graduate start-up companies, local entrepreneurs and sports tech founders – providing them with an inclusive and supportive start-up community.

We know that “from little acorns, mighty oak trees grow”.

Fostering and encouraging fledgeling innovation can have far-reaching societal impacts – which is why we’re keen supporters of the Leicestershire Innovation Festival 2024.

The festival theme is 'Small Change, Big Impact' - do you have an example of this?

During the past decade, graduate James Roberts’ (BSc Product Design and Technology, 2014) final year degree project has received an enviable slew of accolades – including the International James Dyson Award and the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Princess Royal Silver Medal. 

It has also saved the lives of more than 2,000 babies in war-torn Ukraine.

During the final year of his degree, James had been challenged to design a product that “solved a problem”.

Inspired by a documentary about the plight of premature babies in refugee camps, he started to develop the mOm Essential Incubator.

Having been granted regulatory approval with the CE mark in 2022, the low-cost, battery-powered portable incubator was deployed in the Ukraine last year and is being used in a series of pilots across four NHS hospitals.

James’ seemingly small idea is transforming neonatal healthcare and outcomes around the world.

We are proud of his achievement – he is an inspiration to us all. 

Nurture those small changes. They can have a huge impact.

Register now for 20+ free LIF2024 events

Get involved with Innovative Leicestershire

Collaboration is fundamental to achieving our goals. If you are interested in becoming part of what we are doing then there are a host of ways to get involved, from attending an event to relocating your organisation.

Innovative Leicestershire team