Coventry gets Pounds 5m for tech park

August 11, 1995

Coventry University has won the urban regeneration lottery by receiving a Pounds 5 million grant from the European Regional Development Fund for a 17-acre technology park.

The university, which is developing its research profile by sponsoring a Pounds 2 million senior research fellowship scheme, plans to develop a long-disused industrial site which was once the location of a Rolls Royce factory. The bid for funding scored highly against such key ERDF criteria as job creation, urban regeneration, land reclamation and training.

A Technocentre, which is planned to open in September 1996, will form the main link between the university and the technology park. It will feature a product innovation centre, support and demonstration units, as well as a training and conferencing facility.

The university has plans for a graduate enterprise scheme which will offer students the chance to start up new businesses immediately on graduation. Final-year design students, particularly those on specialist industrial product and automotive engineering courses, will be offered advice on developing business plans. The best will be taken up, housed in so-called "incubator units", and provided with financial and strategic support.

The Department of Trade and Industry, which backed the initiative, saw the graduate scheme as a means of creating employment not only for graduates but also for local people. With "graduate retention" becoming a big issue for local communities, the scheme is seen as an effective method of keeping highly skilled students in the region.

The university, which is working closely with the city council, needs to match the European funding, and has so far found Pounds 2 million.

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