Businesses from Norfolk and Suffolk are invited to take part in a breakfast event in Ipswich which will inform a new civic charter led by the University of East Anglia (UEA). The event, which is in partnership with University of Suffolk (UoS) and supported by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, takes place at the UoS Innovation Labs on Friday 21 October between 9am and 12.30pm with a free networking breakfast from 7.30am. 

Senior representatives of businesses of all sizes and industries will use the ‘open space’ discussion format. Facilitators provide a central theme, but participants will set and manage the agenda themselves through informal conversations. 

Participants are encouraged to learn from the diversity of views in the room, and move around between discussions at will. 

This tried-and-tested format results in a welcoming, democratic and inclusive event, which allows people to work with passion and with mutual respect. Furthermore, participants have the opportunity to enjoy a lively networking opportunity.

The outcome of the conversations will provide both UEA and UoS with insight into how they can better collaborate with businesses across Suffolk and Norfolk in the future; their future strategy in this area will be shaped by the event participants.

Emma Wakeling, Head of Business Development and Knowledge Exchange at UoS, said: “We’re excited to be partnering with UEA to find a collective approach to meeting the needs of businesses in the region. We really hope to see a broad representation from Suffolk’s business community – from big companies to SMEs and freelancers.

“Participants might want to talk about skills and training, finance, graduate recruitment, innovation and research or anything else they feel is important under a civic agenda. Business leaders are often residents of the region too, and there will be no constraints on what’s open for discussion.”

Professor Fiona Lettice, Pro-Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation at UEA, commented: “Universities have power to affect the quality of life in our region. But we need to make sure that power is used effectively. We need to demonstrate our value within society – in the local community as well as internationally. So, we’re committed to working with local businesses and other stakeholders to help us shape a new civic charter, which we hope will support everyone.”

The Ipswich event is one of a series of meetings, which started in November 2021, in Suffolk and Norfolk. 

Prof. Lettice added: “Excitingly, when all events have happened –  we have two more planned this year – we’re going to have an encyclopaedia of ideas from across Norfolk and Suffolk. We will then distil the essence of all those conversations down to a single document explaining what a civic university means to the region.”

The forthcoming charter will be a democratic document, led by UEA and open to organisations and individuals in the region to sign. In addition, UoS has its own civic university initiative in progress. Further details will be issued in due course.

To participate in the Ipswich event, register here: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/share-your-ideas-suffolk-help-us-grow-into-your-universities-tickets-415469158437