Universities go to markets

February 3, 1995

Four Midland universities are turning to the capital markets to raise investment

With the co-operation of Birmingham City Council the city's three universities, Birmingham, Aston and Central England, are planning a quoted investment trust which would provide substantial private capital for commercially viable scientific research. Advice is coming from solicitors Edge and Ellison and stockbrokers Brook Corporation Finance. The trust, due to take off later this year, is intended to start with Pounds 10 million.

Bob Bushaway, Birmingham's director of research support and industrial liaison, said the trust would establish synergy between the city's traditional industrial and manufacturing base and the resources at its higher education institutions. He added that one of the aims of the trust would be "to make Birmingham the capital for advanced materials in Europe".

Birmingham hopes to develop its expertise in advanced materials, pharmaceuticals and nanotechnology; Aston expects to take advantage of its research in neural networks; and Central England is looking to develop its engineering research. This week, Central England delegates met the city council to discuss moving the university's engineering faculty to the city centre - the first part of a programme to move closer to industry to develop spin-offs from academic research.

Meanwhile Nottingham Trent's law school, which has been listed as a limited company for the past two years, is planning to raise Pounds 1 million from the equity capital markets in the next six months. It is working with investment capital group 3i.

The school specialises in postgraduate professional courses, catering for about 600 solicitors a year. The dean, Nigel Savage, said that the school wanted to capitalise on an expansion which has taken place more quickly than expected.

The school has signed a joint venture with the American National Institute for Trial Advocacy, and needs money for hiring staff and building accommodation.

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