About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Website: www.dmu.ac.uk/about-dmu/partnerships/square-mile/square-mile-project.aspx

Started: 2011

Based: Leicester

It is fair to say that since Professor Dominic Shellard joined De Montfort University his impact and influence at the university has been immense.

De Montfort University now has a rapidly growing reputation both in the UK and overseas for being a university of quality and distinctiveness.

Professor Shellard has placed an emphasis on building relationships with industry leaders, working with businesses, such as world leading tech company HP, to develop joint degrees and ensure students are fully prepared for the world of work.

He has signed partnership agreements with sector leaders in sport, healthcare and the arts and formed close relationships with politicians, academic leaders and universities across the globe, enriching research, teaching and cultural collaborations.

A prolific Tweeter with 9,000 followers, the vice-chancellor is a professor of English literature and co-founder of the British Library's Theatre Archive Project.

Professor Shellard has put his belief that universities are a public good into practice with the launch of the Square Mile initiative - the first of its kind in the UK - in which the lives of residents in an area of inner city Leicester are being transformed by using the skills and expertise of the university, including research and teaching.

Since its launch in September 2011, Square Mile has introduced 20 projects including turning neglected land into a community garden, teaching 200 schoolchildren about looking after money, starting a robot club for teenagers to learn about technology and engineering, offering English lessons to the Polish community, teaching everything from writing CVs to job interviews, using law students to offer advice to residents, having student midwives promote breast feeding, and serving up hundreds of cups of tea and coffee in community cafes. A second phase of 20 new projects was set to launch in March 2012.