Keele University and partners receive £5m to drive business creation and growth across the region

Midlands Innovation, a university collaboration of which Keele University is a proud partner, is to launch a connected system of technology transfer offices that will drive job creation and economic growth across the Midlands, following a £5 million award from Research England.

The award will establish the Midlands Innovation Commercialisation of Research Accelerator (MICRA) which will create a single gateway to the eight research-intensive collaborative partners – Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Keele, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick – and enable streamlined access to their combined intellectual property and expertise in the creation and growth of new businesses.

The new collaboration aims to make a significant impact on delivery of the Industrial Strategy, underpinned by the findings of the recent Science and Innovation Audit of the Midlands Engine. The partnership will facilitate the development of an ‘ecosystem’ to bring together the capabilities of the Midlands Innovation universities and their partners in new-venture creation, including the region’s Science Parks and business incubators – including Keele University Science and Innovation Park.

Collaborating with industry and organisations from all sectors, the MICRA programme will provide support and access for enterprise development, investment and investor relationships to help entrepreneurs drive their ideas forward, meet a wider community of like-minded people and find the right targeted incubation support within the partnership.

Dr Mark Bacon, Director of Research, Innovation and Engagement at Keele University, said: “We are delighted to form part of this ground-breaking collaboration, which will provide a more effective route to ensuring our research has real world impact. The shared expertise across the collaboration, earlier engagement with the business and investment communities and more effective advice and guidance to academic colleagues, will better help to ensure that intellectual property with more significant commercial value is created and exploited in return for the public investment in research. The stock-piling of unlicensed patents protecting inventions dreamt up in ivory towers using public money is very much a thing of the past.”

Dr Helen Turner, Midlands Innovation Director, said: “Collaborating with strategic partners is crucial. It allows us to collectively offer a critical mass of innovation for the region and appeal to investors who are seeking long-term investment opportunities. Offering a single route that makes it easy for investors to access opportunities and enhance the support available for growing businesses is highly appealing. Attracting large ‘patient capital’ investors who are willing to back new ideas with vision and management talent, and who understand the potential for success will drive new growth businesses and new high value jobs in the UK economy.”

The eight universities collectively have world leading R&D resources across several sectors, science parks and incubators, and strong industry links, and the Midlands Innovation partnership is well positioned to strengthen and expand the social and economic fabric of the Midlands. Working across the partnership, the Technology Transfer Offices will be able to access Intellectual Property Case Managers with detailed sector knowledge quickly and efficiently.

Professor Stuart Croft, Chair of the Midlands Innovation Board and Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Warwick, commented: “I am delighted that the Midlands Innovation partnership continues to go from strength to strength with the announcement of this Connecting Capability Fund Award from Research England. Our expertise and capabilities cuts across all disciplines and it's rewarding to see how this activity is now translating into new and exciting strands for the partnership.”

The MICRA programme is awarded as part of new investment of £67 million through Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund (CCF) in fourteen new collaborative projects, between universities and with other partners, to drive forward world-class university commercialisation across the country.

David Sweeney, Executive Chair of Research England, said: “These projects demonstrate the commitment of universities to work together to strengthen the R&D and technological capabilities of the UK, building upon our successful Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF). In the Industrial Strategy, the Government asked us to improve our ability to turn exciting ideas into commercial products and services. Universities have stepped forward in these projects to show that they can do world class commercialisation, alongside world class science. I believe these projects present important innovations that should inform our strategic approach to commercialisation in UK Research and Innovation for the future.”

Additional information

The £5million award was made from Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund, which supports universities in working together, and with businesses and other partners, to commercialise research and share good practice and staff.

About Midlands Innovation
Midlands Innovation is a world-class research and innovation partnership, combining the collective excellence of eight leading universities in the heart of the UK – Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Keele, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick. It unites the power of university research with the unique strengths of Midlands industry to drive cutting-edge research, innovation and skills development.