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Most Enterprising Janice Webster

Janice Webster, one of the founders of the exciting project that is steering Middlesbrough and the Tees Valley towards becoming a DigitalCity, has been named one of the UK’s most enterprising academics.

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Janice Webster with her award outside the University of Teesside’s new Institute of Digital Innovation

Janice Webster with her award outside the University of Teesside’s new Institute of Digital Innovation


The accolade comes from UPBEAT, a benchmarking project funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). The initiative looked at 150 case studies of university engagement with business and the community to find the best ways that higher education institutions can reach out, and the best qualitative ways of assessing the effectiveness of their engagement.

The project is now complete, and Janice won the top award of Most Enterprising Academic, out of all 150 case studies, for her work in establishing and taking forward DigitalCity.

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'This is a great accolade for both her and the University and we congratulate Janice for raising our profile and this University's engagement with the digital world,' said Teesside's Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Henderson.

Janice, born in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, originally came to Teesside in its polytechnic days to study 3D Design, Interior Design, gaining first class honours.

After setting up her own company, she returned to higher education as a senior lecturer and helped establish Teesside's prestigious MSc Computer-Aided Graphical Technology Applications (CAGTA). She led the Institute of Design for several years before becoming Director of the Virtual Reality Centre in 1997 and then founding Director of DigitalCity in 2002.

She was presented with the UPBEAT Award by Professor James Powell, Pro Vice Chancellor (Enterprise and Regional Affairs at Salford University) who is Director of the University Partnership for Benchmarking Enterprise and Associated Technologies. He praised Janice Webster for her academic leadership, saying: 'Her entrepreneurial flair was shared with her creative teams in a unique and compelling way so they became their own leaders of the pioneering DigitalCity project.'

Janice said: 'Wining this award feels like 'I have got the truffles after all the digging' and I would particularly like to thank the University’s Academic Enterprise team and my DigitalCity team for putting us on the map for enterprise in the UK university sector. Without their support it would not have been possible to get the DigitalCity project into the UPBEAT programme in the first place.'

'We achieved a lot in the first three or four years and I'm just so proud that I was able to see a way to initiate the DigitalCity project. Now having handed over the reins to a new Director, Dr Jim TerKeurst, I can step back from managing the project with confidence that DigitalCity will help to build the thriving creative cluster in Tees Valley we all desire.'

14 December 2007

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