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Universities win £13 million to boost business and enterprise

Press release issued: 15 June 2004

Southern universities answer Government's call for greater industrial collaboration in the largest enterprise partnership of its kind in the UK.

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.

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.

Further initiatives involve helping entrepreneurs across the southern region, both within and outside of 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
  • 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."

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.  Driven by wider exposure to IT and the Internet, this project is already well on the way to finding innovative ways of providing rapid and remote access to information.

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 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 the four university centres in Bristol, Southampton, Swindon and Surrey are already finding success and expanding their businesses after receiving targeted help at a very early stage.

Professor Patrick Dowling, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey, said on behalf of the four universities: “We are pleased to be widening our collaboration to embrace the whole enterprise agenda. Our experience, particularly in business-university interactions, will contribute to the many strengths of the partnership.”

Professor Eric Thomas, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol, said: “The four universities are major players in the enterprise agenda. We are committed to making a real difference to the regional and UK economy.”

Complete list of HEIF 2 awards

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