UNIVERSITIES in the North have been awarded £2.2m to help scientists turn their ideas into commercial businesses.
Business Secretary Vince Cable announced £1.4m of funding for Newcastle University and £850,000 for Durham to “bridge the gap between the lab and the marketplace”.
The funding, which will be awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, was announced by Mr Cable on a visit to Space Syntax, a company formed on the back of research at University College London.
The grant is part of the Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAA), a new £60m investment project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
The money is intended to help scientists and engineers develop their research into commercial propositions, and take up secondments in businesses to gain first-hand experience of the challenges facing a company.
The project hopes to fund projects like the low-cost baby scanner developed by Jeff Neasham at Newcastle, which has offered hope of improved healthcare to millions in the developing world.
Professor Nick Wright, pro-vice chancellor for research and innovation at Newcastle University, said the grant would help turn their technical know-how into real-life solutions.
“It enables us to turn our world-leading research into products and solutions that improve lives and help businesses grow,” he said.
The grant to Durham will be used in the university’s Biophysical Sciences Institute, Durham Energy Institute and the Institute of Advanced Research Computing.
Professor Tom McLeish, pro-vice chancellor (research) at Durham was equally delighted by the grant.
He said it would help to further expand Durham University and its commercial partners’ activities, creating “avenues for knowledge exchange already recognised nationally and internationally”.
“We aim to incorporate within the IAA, the experience gained over the past three years from the Knowledge Transfer Account, held jointly with our colleagues at Newcastle University and the Knowledge Transfer Secondment scheme,” he said.
“The Knowledge Transfer Account has meant engineering and physical science research outputs have entered the healthcare sector through direct collaboration with clinicians in the creation of products.”
The funding will help companies engage with research projects earlier and benefit from research breakthroughs and the knowledge they generate.
It also aims to support partnerships to take some of the risk out of their investment.
EPSRC chief executive Professor Dave Delpy said: “The research we support is recognised as outstanding on the international stage.
“These awards 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.”
It enables us to turn our world-leading research into products and solutions that improve lives