One of them is the wealth of expertise across a vast range of subjects and disciplines.

Some years ago when I was the Cabinet member responsible for education, we were able to persuade Professor Ted Wragg – then one of the country’s most respected educationists – to chair our commission on re-organising schools.

More recently we have been able to enlist the help of the University of Exeter’s world-renowned climate change experts in our commitment to make Devon County Council net zero carbon by 2030.

And currently, Exeter University is working with the county council and Devon’s district councils on a Housing Commission whose purpose is to deliver practical solutions to the housing crisis affecting our county.

So, on behalf of the county council, I was delighted to sign a landmark partnership agreement with Professor Lisa Roberts, the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Exeter.

We both believe this agreement will formalise and strengthen the existing links between our two organisations.

The partnership has already been backed by my Cabinet and the University’s Executive Board.We aim to use these closer links to generate greater benefits for the people of Devon and our businesses. It's another weapon in our armoury to support Devon to be a thriving, sustainable and prosperous place both to live and work.

We have a number of immediate priorities for the partnership agreement which are to stimulate innovation and growth in areas where we are already leading players such as environment, advanced engineering and manufacturing, health, care and life sciences.

We want to ensure there is better access to affordable housing and we want to continue to develop a society which is ambitious for every young person to thrive.

I believe this closer working will help to deliver positive change for Devon, supporting economic growth, protecting our local environment and improving the health and prosperity of our residents.

We want to ensure there are opportunities for everyone - regardless of their background - to improve their education and skills so that no-one is disadvantaged and young people can look forward to a brighter future. By working together and sharing our knowledge we can drive innovation to make the most of our natural environment to attract additional investment in the county.

As Professor Roberts said at the launch of the agreement: "In the decade ahead we have set out to use the power of our education and research to build a better world and that includes supporting economic growth, jobs and skills so that everyone in our region has the opportunity to thrive.

"Devon has huge potential and talent and by working together across organisations and sectors we can make a huge difference to people’s lives and enable positive change in critical areas such as health and wellbeing, education, housing and leading the transition to a green economy.”

Lofty words from us, you may think, but what about actions? Well already we're developing a degree apprenticeship in social work to help tackle the serious shortage of social workers.

We're cooperating on skills development to support our employers in getting the right people to help them thrive and expand and we're working together to raise the profile of our key innovation assets at the University, the Science Park and the Future Skills Centre at Exeter Airport.

We're supporting young people who've been in care with access to higher education and our Devon Education Alliance uses research and evidence to support teaching of disadvantaged students.

I am convinced that there will be much more to come.