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The Connecting Capability Fund (CCF), 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 Industrial Strategy and share good practice and capacity. It builds on HEFCE’s highly successful Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) programme and on the strength of universities across the country acting as anchors of technology, innovation and growth in their places.

Jo Johnson, Universities and Science Minister, said:

‘The commercialisation of research and stronger working with business forms a key part of our Industrial Strategy, and through the Connecting Capability Fund we are strengthening collaborations between universities and with businesses to enable more ideas to become innovative solutions, boosting the UK economy.

‘By building on our reputation as a pioneering nation, and investing an additional £4.7 billion for research and development, we are making sure that the UK remains one of the best places in the world to innovate, do business and create jobs.’

David Sweeney, Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange at HEFCE and Executive Chair Designate of Research England, 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. I look forward to adding to our portfolio of exemplars of collaboration in commercialisation when we announce the second round of CCF next year. Research England, when it comes into being next year, will work with universities to build on the successes of HEIF and CCF to deliver key government priorities.’

Professor Trevor McMillan, Vice-Chancellor of Keele University, and Chair of the CCF steering group, said:

‘Universities have demonstrated their appetite for collaboration and their commitment to excellence in their commercialisation practices in these projects. They are building upon their international research strengths to work intensively in their local areas and with local partners to ensure that all parts of the country benefit. I welcome their support for my review of technology transfer good practice, and their vigour and enthusiasm for supporting wider entrepreneurial culture and capacity in their regions.’

The successful bidders are:

  • Universities of Bath (lead), Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey – SETsquared across Sectors in the South of England (SaSSE): an award of £5 million to tackle the challenge of scaling up small to medium-sized enterprises to innovate and grow, focused on key technology sectors and enabling partnerships across the South of England.
  • Universities of Essex (lead), East Anglia and Kent – Eastern ARC: Enabling Innovation: Research to Application (EIRA): an award of £4,696,000 will extend the established Eastern Arc Research Consortium to support businesses and key technology sectors of priority in the East of England, working with a network of regional higher education providers, including specialists in creative industries and agri-tech (see Note 5), and businesses.
  • Universities of Manchester (lead), Leeds and Sheffield - The Northern Triangle Initiative (NTI) company: an award of £5 million will support the growth of a significantly enhanced, shared intellectual property pipeline; set up a unique regionally focussed finance vehicle, the NTI; seek to raise £350 million in private finance to support university commercialisation; and strengthen the entrepreneurial eco-system of the North of England.
  • Universities of Oxford (lead), Birmingham and Dundee – UK SPINE KE: an award of £4,820,000 will support an open innovation approach and multi-lateral partnerships across universities, NHS and business, to advance clinical research and medical innovation focused on improving health in old age, through establishing a UK-wide network.

Notes

  1. HEFCE allocated £15 million in 2017-18 from the Connecting Capability Fund through formula linked with main HEIF allocations. Up to £85 million is available from the CCF for competitive projects. Allocation of the residual £65 million to second round award winners will be announced early in 2018. Funding is allocated from the science and research budget and, subject to Parliament, will be managed from 1 April 2018 by Research England in UK Research and Innovation. See ‘Higher Education Innovation Funding: Connecting Capability Fund’ (HEFCE 2017/03).
  2. The Connecting Capability Fund was announced in the Government’s Industrial Strategy green paper: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/building-our-industrial-strategy.
  3. A high-level steering group of university and industry experts was appointed to oversee the process of making competitive awards from the CCF (for membership see Annex A to HEFCE 2017/03).
  4. Professor Trevor McMillan chaired a review of good practice in technology transfer that was published in 2016. See ‘University KE framework: Good practice in technology transfer’.
  5. The Eastern ARC: EIRA project also includes the University of Suffolk, Writtle University College, Norwich University of the Arts and Harlow College.
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