£60 Million Boost For UK Universities

Business Secretary Vince Cable today announced a £60m investment in UK universities to help our most pioneering scientists and engineers create successful businesses from their research, improve industrial collaboration and foster greater entrepreneurship.

The announcement was made, during Global Entrepreneurship Week, at a visit to the London studios of university spin-out company Space Syntax, an SME which uses advanced urban modelling techniques to design better cities and public spaces such as the redevelopment of Trafalgar Square in London and the replanning of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

The funding comes from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the UK’s main funding agency for scientific research. They will award ‘Impact Acceleration Accounts’ ranging from £600,000 to £6m to 31 universities across the UK.

It will help support universities’ best scientists and engineers to deliver greater collaboration with industry, bridge the gap between the lab and the marketplace and help them become better entrepreneurs.

The Business Secretary said: "The UK’s scientists are some of the most innovative and creative people in the world, but they need support to take their best ideas through to market. This could be by establishing a successful, technology-driven SME like Space Syntax which I visited today.

"This investment I’m announcing today will help our leading universities become centres of innovation and entrepreneurship, generating commercial success to fuel growth."

The funding will support the very early stage of turning research outputs into a commercial proposition – the 'Valley of death' between a research idea and developing it to a stage where a company or venture capitalist might be interested. It will also allow universities to fund secondments for scientists and engineers to spend time in a business environment: improving their knowledge and skills and returning to the lab with a better understanding of the way companies operate and the challenges they face.

EPSRC chief executive Professor Dave Delpy said: "The research we support is recognised as outstanding on the international stage. These awards aim to make a step change in the impact that has on society: generating new business opportunities which drive economic growth, creating better, more informed, public policy."

They will help companies to engage with research projects at an earlier stage and benefit from research breakthroughs and the fundamental knowledge they generate. The funding will be used to support partnerships with SMEs and larger companies and take some of the risk out of their investment.

For more information, visit: www.epsrc.ac.uk

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