THE boss of Dorset’s Hall & Woodhouse brewery has said universities can provide businesses with new thinking as well as staff.

Company chairman Anthony Woodhouse was speaking at a Bournemouth University event aimed at bringing together multi-generational, multi-sector teams to help solve the challenges facing industry in the county.

Mr Woodhouse said businesses should continue to innovate during tougher trading times.

He said: “It’s vital for us to engage with universities, for both parties. For business, it’s access to intellectual thinking and innovation, and for universities, it’s educating and putting people out into the workplace that businesses want.”

He was speaking at the Dorset Spark Business Innovation Lab event hosted by Bournemouth University (BU), Dorset Growth Hub and WSX Enterprises.

The Blandford-based brewery has invested more than £30million in Dorset in recent years.

Mr Woodhouse adde: “We have had BU MBA students that worked with us on a project and we’ve had a number of students doing research projects with us, and BU has ran a bespoke course for us as a three-year graduate programme which was fabulous, so we have a broad range of activities that we work together on.”

The event also saw Nigel Jump, professor of regional economic development, talk about sustainability in business, focusing on the region’s carbon agenda, cyber security, wellbeing and productivity, brand, skills and transport.

Others taking part included past Dorset Chamber president Paul Tansey, of marketing business Intergage, and Gordon Fong of DataCenta, who held an event on cyber security at the university earlier this year.

David Wakeford, head of careers and employability at BU, said: “Dorset Growth Hub has been looking at mapping the various industry clusters across Dorset, from manufacturing to health and digital, to try and bring those clusters closer together and get students interacting with industry and academics.

“Involving students in this kind of activity is fantastic as it gives them another point to network, makes sure that what they’re doing links to the reality of what’s happening locally, and ensures students see that there are opportunities within the local area.”

Teams looked at issues such as cyber fraud and developing a ‘brand identity’ for Dorset and its economy.

Nick Gregory, Dorset Growth Hub manager, said: “This was a fantastic event engaging business and students, working together to seek solutions for some of the issues facing the Dorset economy. It is, I hope, the first event of many.”