Speaking at a High Level Partnership Lunch, hosted by the Bedfordshire & Luton Economic Development Partnership, Professor Clifford Friend, of Cranfield University and Les Ebdon, of the University of Bedfordshire, showed how their activities complement each other and directly assist Bedfordshire business.

Mr Ebdon, who is vice chancellor and the university’s chief executive, told his audience of leading business people that the University of Bedfordshire brought more than £82 million income to the county, employed 1,080 people, had helped 5,500 small and medium-sized enterprises and contributed around £163 million to the Bedfordshire economy.

Professor Friend, deputy vice chancellor at Cranfield, spoke of the university’s uniqueness. He said: “Many have heard of Cranfield University, but few know of its distinctiveness. Through its technology park and international research and education programmes, this commercially focused research-intensive postgraduate university enhances the local economy through strong interactions with regional companies and by bringing international commercial partners to Cranfield.

“It even has its own airport, increasingly a business aviation portal to the East Midlands and East of England. It is truly a different type of university – and probably the region’s best-kept secret.”

After the lunch, held at The Inn at Woburn, BLEDP chairman Derek Ludlow said: “The Bedfordshire and Luton area is very fortunate to have two universities with such complementary qualities. The benefits to the local economy of their willingness to work together and with the wider business support community is there for all to see.”

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