Boost for entrepreneurs with multi-million initiative

The University of Leeds is one of three universities partnering in a £5 million programme to help get academic research into business

The University of Leeds and its partner institutions – Manchester and Sheffield – will jointly establish the Northern Triangle Initiative (NTI) which will help take novel research to market, developing ideas based on innovations in areas such as advanced materials, medical technologies and computer science.

NTI aims to raise a further £350 million in private finance to support university commercialisation, and to strengthen entrepreneurial activity in the North of England.

The University of Leeds already has a strong track-record in commercialising its research, creating over 110 spin-out companies since 1995, six of which are listed on the financial markets, and which currently employ over 800 people. 

This new funding, which has been awarded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), is intended to accelerate closer links between universities and industry. It will provide sources of funding to support new ideas as they move from academia into the market place.

The Government announced that £20 million in total will be allocated to English universities to pump-prime closer links with industry.

‘NTI aims to raise a further £350 million in private finance to support university commercialisation, and to strengthen entrepreneurial activity in the North of England.’

Jo Johnson, the Universities and Science Minister, said: “Universities have a vital role to play in their local communities and in the national economy. Given the record levels of public investment in R&D, it is essential that universities engage with businesses and communities to make the most of their knowledge and research.”

Professor Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation at the University of Leeds said: “This is a great opportunity to build on our formidable reputation in commercialisation.

“The Universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield are three research powerhouses in the North, and by working together we will have significant impact on the commercialisation of our research.”  

Nexus, a £40 million innovation and enterprise centre currently under construction, will enable external partners to work with the University focusing on health, engineering, environment and data science and technology.

The purpose-designed facility will offer a range of spaces for networking, providing meeting rooms, presentation space, offices and laboratories and is due to open in 2018.

Forging closer links between universities and industry was a priority set out in the Government’s Industrial Strategy green paper. 

David Sweeney, Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange at HEFCE, announcing the awards said: “I am excited by the ambitious scale of these collaborations, the diversity of their approaches to commercialisation and the opportunity this presents to spread the benefits of research to communities across the country.”

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