Ten universities in Yorkshire and Humberside have clinched a deal worth more than Pounds 10 million as part of a joint bid for European Union business support.
Combined with money raised locally, there will be Pounds 25 million to be spent over two years building links with business.
The money will help to support a scheme for graduate placements in business, improve small firms' access to university know-how, train employers in growth sectors and assist small businesses in recruiting and training graduates.
The money was won under the auspices of the Yorkshire and Humberside Universities Association, which was set up five years ago to boost the sector's involvement in regional development. Its members are Bradford, Huddersfield, Hull, Leeds, Leeds Metropolitan, Lincolnshire and Humberside, Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam, York and the northern office of the Open University.
Jeremy Walker, regional director of the Government Office for Yorkshire and Humberside, said better links will help both small businesses and students.