Welsh put spin into business

January 15, 1999

Academics and industrialists in Wales are joining forces to encourage more spin-off businesses from higher education.

The Welsh Development Agency is backing Top Spin, a scheme to create high quality jobs and retain graduates in Wales.

One proposal is for a "refundable aid scheme" to provide entrepreneurs with interest-free loans of Pounds 25,000. Another is for "incubation" facilities to give new ventures access to university scientific expertise.

The WDA also hopes to provide new spin-out firms with help in researching the market potential for their products.

The scheme has been spurred by the government's recent competitiveness white paper. The long-term aim of the Welsh project is to build up a cluster of high-technology companies in Wales.

Brian Willott, chief executive of the WDA, said: "Historically, some other regions of Britain have had a much higher rate of 'spin-off' enterprises emerging from their academic institutions. Top Spin can redress this."

Ken Board, holder of the WDA entrepreneurship chair at University of Wales, Swansea, and a member of the Top Spin taskforce, said: "There are 90,000 full time students in Welsh higher education and the aim is to encourage potential entrepreneurs among them as well as among academic staff, postgraduates and researchers to have a go. We are also willing to help anyone else wishing to use and exploit know-how in institutions."

The agency is to bid for support from the European Regional Development Fund.

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