Reporter 433, 15 March 1999


University Challenge Fund gives White Rose £4.5m to blossom

The White Rose consortium has won £4.5m from the Government's £45m University Challenge Fund - the largest grant awarded by Science Minister Lord Sainsbury last week.

The grant will provide a seedcorn fund to back university innovation in its early stages - traditionally the most difficult time to secure financial backing.

The White Rose Technology Seedcorn Fund will fuel the creation of new high-tech companies and new jobs in the region arising from high quality research in Leeds, Sheffield and York universities.

Between them, the three universities have an enormous range of expertise. Over 3,700 academic and research staff are carrying out world-class research in the life sciences, physical sciences, engineering, environmental and medical specialities.

This work is supported by private and public sector funding totalling £160 million per year. As seedcorn funding must be backed up by other, larger sources of funds, the consortium has also drawn up plans to raise up to £20m in early 2000.

Earlier innovations have established the three universities' track record of commercialisation, with 50 spin-off companies and over 1,500 new high-technology jobs created to date.

The White Rose collaboration was established in 1997 and was recently launched as a limited company. It was set up to pool the resources of the three institutions and to promote research into a diverse range of subjects carrying important implications for the world of business.

It recently received £1m for a Faraday research partnership with Pira International and Cambridge Consultants Ltd. The collaborative projects focus on the packaging industry, researching better use of materials, providing greater customer benefits in product design and reduced environmental impact.

"The challenge fund will be of enormous benefit to early stage technology and innovative companies," said Dr Ederyn Williams, ULIS managing director, and who led the bid. "We are confident the White Rose Technology Seedcorn Fund will be one of the most succesful in the UK, given the excellent quality and quantity of research coming out of the three universities," he said.

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