The University of Manchester is to lead a £5 million project which aims to transform the process of turning research into businesses across the North of England.
Announced today by the Universities Minister, Jo Johnson, the funding will see Manchester work with the Universities of Leeds and Sheffield to develop a ‘Northern Triangle Initiative’ (NTI).
The NTI will support the growth of a significantly enhanced, shared intellectual property pipeline, set up a unique regionally-focussed finance vehicle, seek to raise £350 million in private finance to support university commercialisation, and strengthen the entrepreneurial eco-system of the North of England.
In particular the award will allow the partners to collaborate in developing intellectual property projects into business propositions in areas of common strength such as advanced materials, medical technologies and computer science.
Clive Rowland, the CEO of UMI3 – The University of Manchester’s Innovation Group – said: “We will use this award to create a significant ‘Northern Triangle’ funding capability to create a positive collaborative climate and accelerate the amazing commercial potential of the research powerhouses at the universities of Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.
“This funding, along with our existing investor partnerships, will help us overcome the continuing challenge of bridging the very risky stage between the laboratory and the market place, where developing prototypes is crucial to attracting venture funding.
“Very importantly, a key feature of this project is to enable us to develop more licensing proposals, which is a very effective way of translating science into business activities, but which has become somewhat a poor relation to the spin-out company route and is of less interest to entrepreneurs.”
The funding forms part of an allocation of £20 million to winners of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) Connecting Capability Fund competition and forms part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy green paper.
The Fund, which was announced in the Government’s Industrial Strategy green paper, supports universities in working together and with external partners to commercialise research, help deliver the Strategy and share good practice and capacity.
It was announced at the HEFCE conference in London where Deputy President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, Professor Luke Georghiou was also speaking on ‘Universities as Core Partners in Realising the Industrial Strategy’.
Commenting on the award he said: “The University of Manchester is proud to be in the top two nationally for the value of our collaborative work with our business partners and always in the leading group for commercialisation of intellectual property through UMI3.
“This award helps to fill an important gap in the Northern regional innovation ecosystem and will enable us to step up our contribution to the economy alongside our partners in Leeds and Sheffield.”
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.”
Professor John Derrick, Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation at the University of Sheffield, said:
“The funding for the Northern Triangle Initiative lays the foundations for new advanced science and innovative industry collaborations that will help to deliver real change and create economic growth not only for the north but the whole of the UK.
“At Sheffield we are immensely proud of our longstanding research-industry links – particularly in advanced manufacturing – and we are looking forward to working with our partner institutions on this inspiring initiative extend these even further to bridge the gap between the outstanding research undertaken in universities and industry.”
The funding will last for three years and the immediate aims of the project are to work with investors and entrepreneurs to form a dynamic support system and initiate and develop some 75 technology transfer projects across the three partner universities.