£60 million boost for science innovation

Nanoscience

Cambridge has received new funding as part of a £60m investment in UK universities to help encourage the development of new industrial collaborations, products and companies based on University research.

“This investment will help our leading universities become centres of innovation and entrepreneurship and generate the kind of commercial success which will fuel economic growth and make the UK one of the most attractive places in the world to do science-based business.” — Vince Cable

The funding awards ‘Impact Acceleration Accounts’ to 31 universities across the UK. Cambridge will receive close to £4m under the scheme, which is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

At an event earlier today, Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “The UK’s scientists are some of the most innovative and creative people in the world but they need support to help their best ideas become viable commercial propositions.”

“This investment will help our leading universities become centres of innovation and entrepreneurship and generate the kind of commercial success which will fuel economic growth and make the UK one of the most attractive places in the world to do science-based business.”

The Accounts will support the very early stage of turning research outputs into a commercial proposition – the “valley of death” between a research idea and developing it to a stage where a company or venture capitalist might be interested. It will also allow universities to fund secondments for scientists and engineers to spend time in a business environment: improving their knowledge and skills and returning to the lab with a better understanding of the way companies operate and the challenges they face.

EPSRC chief executive Professor Dave Delpy said, “The research we support is recognised as outstanding on the international stage. These Accounts aim to make a step change in the impact that has on society: generating new business opportunities which drive economic growth, creating better, more informed, public policy.”

Cambridge is Europe’s most successful technology cluster, having produced ten companies valued at more than $1 billion, and two (ARM and Autonomy) valued at more than $10 billion. The vast majority of the more than 1,400 companies in the cluster are connected to the University in some way: they are either based directly on University research, are founded or staffed by University graduates, or work collaboratively with University researchers to find solutions to business problems.

The Accounts will help companies to engage with research projects at an earlier stage and benefit from research breakthroughs and the fundamental knowledge they generate. The funding will be used to support partnerships with SMEs and larger companies and take some of the risk out of their investment.