Friday, June 22, 2007

Imagination@Lancaster

About a year or so ago I was talking about innovation and creativity to Paul Wellings, the Vice Chancellor of Lancaster University, and Cary Cooper, one of his professors. They were asking me how I could help at Lancaster - already one of the premier universities in the UK with a top notch business school. Imagination@Lancaster was born and we enticed Cary’s wife, Rachel, from her design professorship in Salford to head up the effort. A couple of weeks back, we had our inaugural dinner at Paul’s house where he gathered together ex-alumni from Lancaster representing creativity, academia and the government. We had Brian Collins, the Chief Scientific Adviser of the Department of Transport; David Shackleton, the Vice President of Sony BMG Records; Duncan Rycroft, the head of regional programming at Granada TV; Richard Murray, Creative Director at William Murray Hamm, and several other notables. Three hours (fuelled by great food and wine) were spent discussing how we could re-imagine the way universities interact with industry and government, and the impact we could all have by pooling resources in one university. It was a terrific evening; one that happens too rarely. I have been a firm believer in bringing business and academia together whenever possible and it was terrific to see it at this forum, with imagination and creativity at the hub, not one agenda, one function. We are meeting again in Lancaster in July to lay out the dream and purpose for Imagination@Lancaster. Watch this space.