The UK government has launched a £10 million fund for University Enterprise Zones to support higher education institutions collaborating with local businesses.
The investment will help develop proposals for up to 10 new UEZs in England in a bid to boost local economies and jobs. The zones, which have been piloted previously, are a type of incubator that provides physical spaces and facilities for small businesses, where they can access support, specialist facilities and knowledge.
The scheme, which is funded by £5 million from the Research England Development Fund and another £5 million announced in the 2018 Budget, aims to ensure that the research and expertise developed in universities further aligns with the needs of local businesses.
The government said that the move, which is part of its Industrial Strategy, would help universities better understand what employers are looking for from graduates and allow businesses to benefit from a university’s expertise.
The new fund was launched by Treasury minister Robert Jenrick and universities and science minister Chris Skidmore during a visit to the University of Nottingham, which has successfully piloted a UEZ that is supporting start-ups and enterprises in the East Midlands.
Mr Jenrick said: “By making sure universities are equipping graduates with the expertise that surrounding businesses are looking for, and entrepreneurs can operate in business-friendly environments, we can help fire up local economies, create more jobs and boost growth.”
Mr Skidmore said that English universities are “among the best in the world, and when they join forces with our ambitious and innovative small businesses, they have the potential to meet the grand challenges of the future”.
“Today’s investment to bring business and academics together will not only lead to the creation of new products and services, it will boost job creation for local areas to feel the benefits of UK innovation, which demonstrates our modern Industrial Strategy in action,” he added.