Universities to invest £38 million to boost business and enterprise
A unique partnership between the four Universities of Bath, Bristol, Southampton and Surrey has today received the largest award from the DTI's Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) to encourage enterprise, build new businesses and work more effectively with industry. This collaboration, the only one of its kind in the UK to encapsulate all aspects of university enterprise, has been awarded £13 million over two years. The universities have added £25 million of their own funds to demonstrate their commitment to the project.
With four universities involved, teaching and research are a key part of the offering to business and industry. This funding means that businesses of today and those of the future can benefit from enterprise training and education, and are given greater access to innovative research, which could lead to new products and processes.
A further initiative involves helping entrepreneurs across the southern region, both within and outside the universities, to succeed in setting up new businesses. Support for those wishing to start a new venture includes access to:
* Finance opportunities
* Experienced entrepreneurs with business know-how
* Contacts including potential customers, collaborators, suppliers and other support organisations
* Low-cost office accommodation
* Professional business advice, and
* Regional networks with events, seminars and informal networking opportunities.
The collaboration has already demonstrated some notable achievements. Southampton hit the headlines in March with the successful floatation of oil and gas technology company Offshore Hydrocarbon Mapping Limited (OHM) which went from university spin-out to AIM listing in two years with a market capitalisation of £49.8 million.
Professor Martin Sinha, Director of OHM, sums up the difference that this support has made, "Transforming academic work into a successful spin-out company would have been impossible without the help of the University and its Centre for Enterprise and Innovation."
Apart from OHM, University of Southampton spin-outs raised around £20m in venture finance over the last year. More successful enterprises are in the pipeline for 2004/5. Looking further ahead, the creation of the University's Institute of Entrepreneurship will also ensure a steady stream of new university-linked businesses in the future.
At the University of Bristol, both large and small players from the entertainment, telecommunications, computing and media industries have combined to form a distinctive university-industry research collaboration known as 3C Research.
The University of Bath is one of the country's leading institutions delivering Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs), a DTI initiative to encourage the transfer of university knowledge to the world at large. One of the highlights is an interactive learning resource for special needs teachers and carers working with children with Asperger's Syndrome.
The University of Surrey has successfully engaged small and medium sized businesses in the area in training boosting management, leadership and other skills to around 500 companies.
The four universities already work together on the highly successful SETsquared initiative which, so far, has helped around 100 new high-tech, high-growth companies to get off the ground across southern England. Entrepreneurs based at Southampton, Bristol, Swindon and Surrey are already finding success and expanding their businesses after receiving targeted help at a very early stage.
Professor Bill Wakeham, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton, said, "This partnership answers the government's call for more productive links between universities and business. I am delighted to see the relationship which produced such success in SETsquared develop into a true partnership to help enterprise across the board."
Notes for editors
The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University has over 19,200 students and 4,800 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton. Its annual turnover is in the region of £250 million.