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Warwick and Midlands Innovation universities celebrate technical staff by hosting Higher Education Technicians Summit

Dame Carol RobinsonThe Midlands Innovation group of universities (Aston, Birmingham, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick) hosted the second Higher Education Technicians Summit (HETS 2017), the largest event held specifically for UK and Ireland higher education technical staff, at the University of Warwick on 31 May 2017 in partnership with the Science Council.

The event’s keynote speakers included Sir Paul Nurse, Chief Executive and Director of the Francis Crick Institute, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and former President of the Royal Society; Professor Dame Carol Robinson, the University of Oxford’s first female Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford; and Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, Professor and Chairman of WMG at the University of Warwick, who all provided interesting insights into the evolution and progression of the roles of technicians. The day brought broader issues around technical skills and education to the fore through interactive sessions, including the need to address the UK skills shortage – an area into which the Midlands Innovation universities are particularly keen to input.

This year’s event also included the launch of the Technician Commitment, an exciting new initiative aimed at ensuring greater visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for technicians across all disciplines. A video was unveiled to share the news that 36 institutions have signed up to become founding signatories of the Commitment. Midlands Innovation is the first consortium to have all its members signed up to support this important initiative, demonstrating its dedication to supporting technical staff in Higher Education both in the region and across the UK.

Professor Stuart Croft, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Warwick and Chair of Midlands Innovation, was delighted to be present at the launch of the Commitment and said, “Midlands Innovation has taken the need to recognise the value of our technical staff seriously. We established the Higher Education Technician’s Summit in 2015 and launched the Papin Prizes, a series of awards for technicians in UK Higher Education who have demonstrated excellence. All six members of Midlands Innovation have signed up to the Technician’s Commitment and we are establishing a technical managers’ group to explore how we can collaborate to support our technicians further.”

HETS 2017 also celebrated the achievements of UK technical staff in higher education through the awarding of the national Papin Prizes. Almost 200 nominations were received across eight categories. This year’s winners were:

· Newcomer Award (an individual who has embarked on a technical career within the past four years and shown exceptional promise): Jennifer Williams, University of Bath

· Teaching Award (a member of technical staff who has made a significant contribution to the student teaching and learning experience): Teresa Needham, University of Nottingham

· Research Award (a member of technical staff who has made a significant contribution to research): Jennifer Haworth, University of Manchester

· Core Research Facility (a member of technical staff within a central research facility/platform who has provided exceptional skills/expertise): Matthew MacKenzie, University of Birmingham

· Infrastructure (a member of technical staff who has made a significant contribution to day-to-day infrastructure to support research and/or teaching): Hazel Smulders, University of Sussex

· Outreach/Community (a member of technical staff or technical team that has made a significant contribution to community/outreach activities): Callum Crane, Loughborough University

· Lifetime Achievement (an award to recognise continued excellence and/or significant achievements across an individual’s technical career): John Andrews, University College London

· Technical Team (a technical team who has worked together to deliver excellence): Textiles Technical Team, Loughborough University

Midlands Innovation is a world-class research and innovation partnership, combining the collective excellence of six leading universities in the heart of the UK – Aston, Birmingham, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick. It unites the power of university research with the unique strengths of Midlands industry to drive cutting-edge research, innovation and skills development.

For more information on Midlands Innovation, please visit

For more information on the HETS 2017 event, please click here.

For more information on the Technician Commitment, please visit

Finally, see a storify of the day's events here: