The South West Think Tank (SWTT) will draw upon the universities’ highly regarded experts to address key issues facing Cornwall, Devon and Somerset.

The universities of Exeter, Plymouth and Falmouth have joined forces to launch a new initiative that will harness the region’s academic and research expertise to improve people’s lives, empower communities and drive the economy across the peninsula and with UK benefits.

The South West Think Tank (SWTT) will draw upon the universities’ highly regarded experts, working across a range of disciplines, to produce policy alternatives and bold proposals to address key issues facing Cornwall, Devon and Somerset.

Focussing on developing evidence-based policy options, the think tank will explore issues around renewable energy, health, the environment, skills and the economy, through the unique context and resources of the South West region, its specific opportunities and challenges and the contribution it can make to UK sustainable futures.

The Think Tank was launched at an event in the House of Commons this week with cross-party endorsement. The Think Tank will also be introduced  within the region later this month at an event at the shared Falmouth University and University of Exeter Cornwall campus in Penryn. 

Luke Pollard, MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport commented on the launch, “The South West can make a huge contribution to some of the most vital issues facing Britain but too often we are ignored, lacking the attention other regions get. If we are to get our fair share of funding we need to be more determined in our arguments and lobbying. That’s why I’m so excited about the South West Think Tank creating fresh thinking to ensure we realise our potential and are better able to fight our corner nationally.”

Professor Lisa Roberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter, said: “This think tank is long overdue for the South West. The three universities are committed to the success of our region, and already collaborate extensively on research and impact. The Think Tank will enable academics to work together, alongside our regional partners to develop workable policy solutions, to make life in the peninsula fairer and healthier and to safeguard the environment. Their expertise helps address the region’s issues and produce new opportunities. By drawing on our combined strengths at all three universities their work will have an even greater impact.”

Professor Judith Petts CBE, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Plymouth said: “Our universities have come together, because we know from experience that through collaboration, and drawing upon our academic expertise and resources, we can produce evidence-based policy recommendations, responding to regional challenges and maximising our opportunities to impact UK priorities. The successful case studies, projects and initiatives we are highlighting today demonstrate the vital role we already play in setting agendas and influencing policy.”

Professor Emma Hunt, Vice Chancellor of Falmouth University said, “We are delighted to be a part of this initiative that will support our fantastic region to achieve its potential. With a deep understanding of the South West and a breadth of world-class research expertise, this collaborative Think Tank is well positioned to provide relevant and rigorous ideas for its future, aligned with the needs and aspirations of local communities and our partners. We’ll be focussing on activity that will provide creative, innovative and workable solutions that can help generate opportunities, drive growth and build a sustainable, inclusive South West for everyone.”