The UPP Foundation has today (Wednesday 10 July) launched a new collection of essays from leading thinkers across different sectors outlining the economic and social benefits universities have on their local communities. The collection is published in memory of Lord Bob Kerslake, Chair of the UPP Foundation’s Civic University Commission (2018-19), who sadly died last year.

The collection features over 40 essayists from across the political spectrum and across different sectors – including education, business, healthcare, local government, think tanks, charities and the arts – who all advocate for universities to have a stronger voice in place-making. Each essay includes policy ideas for the new Government to enable the local civic role to thrive. Included in this is a contribution from the Programme Director of the NCIA, Adam Leach, with an essay on fostering university-led, locally responsive entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Adam’s essay will explore how we can enable civic transformation by examining global best practices in fostering university-led, locally grounded entrepreneurial ecosystems. It will propose a series of actionable recommendations for creating the conditions in which universities can fulfil their potential as anchors of place-responsive innovation. And it will make the case for a new agenda that empowers universities to work collaboratively to develop a brighter future for the communities they serve, through the power of place-responsive entrepreneurialism.

The collection touches on a number of issues of vital importance to towns, cities and regions, including local economic growth, raising educational attainment and opportunity for disadvantaged groups, the local supply of the NHS workforce, improving the local environment, and access to culture and the arts. Following the launch at the National Theatre, the full collection is available from

Several prominent public figures have also signed an open letter to the new Prime Minister calling for actions including support for the creative sector, investment in the NHS workforce and a review of how the the post-16 educational sector can overcome the current funding crisis effecting it – all of which would continue Bob’s legacy.

Among many other leadership roles, Lord Bob Kerslake was Chair of the UPP Foundation Civic University Commission supporting over 70 universities in developing Civic University Agreements and the creation of the Civic University Network. The ground breaking work championed by Lord Bob Kerslake has transformed the relationship between universities and their local communities across the UK.

This stands as one among many other achievements across a lifetime of public service. As a former Head of the Civil Service, a prominent figure in local government, housing and higher education and a regular media political commentator, Lord Bob Kerslake and his vision for society touched thousands of lives. His impact is reflected in the breadth of the essays brought together in the collection, with reflections on everything from the future of English devolution to the role of universities in tackling homelessness.

Adam Leach, Programme Director of the National Civic Impact Accelerator (NCIA), said:

This timely collection of essays is a fitting tribute to Lord Bob Kerslake’s visionary work on the civic role of universities. My contribution explores how we can foster university-led, locally responsive entrepreneurial ecosystems to drive civic transformations. By examining global best practices and proposing actionable recommendations, the essay aims to inspire universities to think a little differently and help the UK’s new government realise its ambitions by creating the conditions where universities can fully unlock their potential to facilitate place-based renewal. This collection underscores the critical role universities play in shaping the economic, social, and cultural fabric of their communities, and offers valuable insights for policymakers to enhance this transformative impact.”

Richard Brabner, Director of the UPP Foundation, said:

“It has been an honour to orchestrate this collection to celebrate the legacy of our late great friend Bob Kerslake. It was the privilege of my career to work closely with Bob; his passion, insight, and hard work were crucial to the success of our Civic University Commission and I know that everyone involved in the collection has benefitted from Bob’s wisdom over the years. We hope that this collection provides the inspiration to the new Government to build on Bob’s work to ensure the civic role is truly recognised.”

Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Former Vice Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, said:

“Bob was one of the most gifted and committed public servants of our time. It’s fitting that we launch this collection this evening, just a few days into the new government. Bob was respected across the political spectrum, but there is no doubt that had he lived he would have been a powerful resource for a progressive government embarking on national renewal. It falls to those of us who remain to rise to the standards he set, to play our part in shaping and doing policy for the common good”.

To view the essay collection please visit the dedicated UPPF webpage: