RESEARCH

UK enterprise initiative a win-win for universities and business

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The UK government launched a £10 million fund to help universities develop proposals for new Enterprise Zones.

The UK government announced Thursday it is launching a £10 million (US$13 million) fund to help universities develop proposals for up to 10 new enterprise zones across England. Ministers hope the initiative will strengthen ties between higher education and industry, generating new jobs and boosting local economies.

The scheme hopes to align the expertise and research of universities with the needs of local businesses, essentially getting the research into the hands of the people that ned it.

The University Enterprise Zones (UEZ), as they are called, will act as a form of “incubator” for local SMEs and startups, providing them with support as well as state-of-the-art facilities and access to specialist expertise.

By gaining a better understanding of the needs of business, the UK hopes this will direct research and produce graduates that possess the skills needed for the modern-day workforce.

“Our universities are recognised around the world as centres of research and knowledge. At the same time, Britain is a country brimming with entrepreneurs and innovators,” Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Robert Jenrick, said in a statement.

“We want to bring these two assets together, so that businesses and universities can benefit from what each other has to offer.

“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.”

Incubators have gone from strength to strength in the UK, injecting commercial business growth and dynamism into the British economy. The UEZ scheme hopes to expand on this by giving students and fresh graduates the resources to branch out and work for themselves.

The initiative is part of the government’s wider industrial strategy to boost local economies by creating new jobs and harnessing the opportunities of the UK’s world-leading reputation in innovation.

At the end of February, the government also announced a nationwide programme of industry-funded AI masters courses, all including work placement training, the building of 16 dedicated centres set up at universities across the country designed to train the next generation of AI specialists.

The government intends to invest up to £110 million (US$143 million) in the programme, with industry-funding also supporting the projects.

One university set to benefit from the new UEZ fund is the University of Nottingham, who plans to build on the success of their current incubator.

“We are immensely proud of what has been achieved so far at the University Enterprise Zone, and plan to build on its success by developing both the site and the services it offers in a way that benefits the world around us,” said University of Nottingham Vice-Chancellor, Professor Shearer.

“As a University, we firmly believe that our research expertise can make a valuable contribution to progress both by using technology and ideas to solve some of the problems we’ll face in the future, and by creating opportunities for the partners we work with and the people of our home city.”