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Home > News > February 2007 > 20 February 2007

SEEDA announces formation of leadership academy

The South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) has announced the formation of the South East Leadership Academy.

The Academy aims to champion the disciplines of leadership and innovation to business owners and managers throughout the region.

Awarding a contract worth £225,000 to a consortium led by the University of Surrey's School of Management to develop the Leadership Academy, SEEDA's Head of Leadership and Entrepreneurship, Christina Hartshorn said: "Innovation the successful exploitation of new ideas is the catalyst and fuel that drives productivity growth and wealth creation. Robust leadership and management skills are crucial in ensuring that business owners embed innovation as a core company activity.

"The South East is synonymous with a dynamic economy, yet in a fiercely challenging global knowledge economy, the region increasingly has to compete on the basis of knowledge advantage. The Academy will play a key role in bringing together Higher Education researchers and teachers in innovation and leadership to share knowledge with each other and with practitioners; ensuring that this critical knowledge is disseminated swiftly, and effectively implemented in businesses throughout the region."

Hartshorn announced that the other consortium members involved in the Academy are Henley Management College, the Open University Business School, Oxford Brookes University, Royal Holloway University and the University of Greenwich. She said: "These world-class partners will ensure that it is easy for business to access information on leadership skills and build a stronger understanding of the different delivery and learning methods.

"It is vital that we share and learn from the best international practice in leadership development and explore vigorously how leadership impacts upon behaviour and business benefits. The ultimate goal is that business leaders will be developed to embrace and exploit the innovation challenges posed by global competitiveness and that the South East continues to be a thriving, vibrant and successful region."

Reinforcing links with the new Regional Economic Strategy for the South East (RES), Hartshorn said: "The rapid emergence of new global economic powerhouses such as China and India offer real opportunities to harness business excellence in order for the region to compete effectively in a challenging marketplace.

"One of the targets in the RES is to increase the percentage of total business turnover attributable to new and improved products and services in the South East from 12 per cent to 20 per cent by 2016. Therefore, we have to improve the creativity, courage, capacity and capabilities of business leaders in the region and to elevate the profile of leadership and innovation skills. If innovation can be seen as permanent strategic renewal, greater productivity gains can be made within organisations."

SEEDA has also appointed the first two of four 'Leadership Development Advisers' with a remit to provide long term advice and assistance to businesses that need to develop their leadership skills to enable them to exploit innovation more successfully.

They will be working alongside advisers at the SEEDA-funded Innovation Advisory Service. Each will give around 145 business support days per annum to 50 businesses.

Emphasising the importance of innovation, Hartshorn said: "Our work is not just about making sure the South East workforce is highly skilled. We have to champion skills for innovation. We must combine powerful skill sets. If we can capture this brilliant fusion of knowledge, ideas, creativity and the confidence to innovate, then we are going to be in an enviable position to boost innovation and accelerate global competitiveness in our businesses."

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