Incubation of new small businesses by universities will be at the heart of entrepreneurial Britain in the 21st century, Patricia Hewitt, minister for small business, said this week.
Speaking at the first national business incubation conference in London, Ms Hewitt said recent research had shown the important role of "hothouses" in growing new successful companies. More than 80 per cent of firms, including university spin-offs, derived from incubators survive five or more years compared with only 50 per cent generally.
Ms Hewitt highlighted Nottingham Trent University's business park as a successful example of an institution incubating new business. The university has set up 11 units for start-up companies with access to consultancy and training, skilled graduates and technical know-how.
Scottish Enterprise highlighted Scotland's efforts to encourage enterprise and innovation by its universities. Richard Malloch, an executive in Scottish Enterprise's biotechnology directorate, said there was a four-year Pounds 40 million action plan to encourage research and business development in universities and the private sector.
Scottish Enterprise has also created an Pounds 11 million fund for supporting early-stage commercialisation of promising academic research.