Reporter 439, 27 September 1999

14 September, 1999


The White Rose Consortium of Leeds, Sheffield and York universities has won its second major Government award in the past six months.

Stephen Byers, Secretary of State at the Department of Trade and Industry, today announced that the Consortium has been awarded a grant of £2.9 million under the Science Enterprise Challenge Fund. This follows an award earlier in the year of £4.5 million from the University Challenge Fund.

The latest grant will be used to set up a world-class Centre for Enterprise based at all three institutions. The Centre will fill a long-identified gap between the academic and commercial worlds, to help stimulate the commercial exploitation of high-technology research.

Expert teams with track records in the exploitation of science and engineering knowledge will be brought together in the Centre to support the formation of start-up companies. Graduates and researchers will be helped in taking ideas from the conceptual stage, through legal and company start-up advice, to full commercialisation. The Centre for Enterprise will also match innovative technologies developed in the three universities with existing companies willing to exploit their business potential.

Another key role of the Centre will be the development of innovative ideas in the teaching and training of enterprise techniques to scientists and engineers at different stages in their careers. The aim is to encourage researchers to think in terms of commercial exploitation, leading to a more entrepreneurial culture in British Science.

The successful bid has been built around the multi-disciplinary, international research base offered by the three Universities, as well as mentoring and professional input from practising business people already working closely with each institution.

University of Leeds Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alan Wilson, said:

"Yorkshire’s universities were founded on technology transfer. We have long been proud of our achievements in the commercial exploitation of quality research. The White Rose Centre for Enterprise will take us forward, nurturing a culture of innovation in which the region’s new high-tech business can thrive."

University of Sheffield Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Gareth Roberts, said:

"It’s vital that entrepreneurship is embedded into university culture, so that the best possible economic return is achieved through commercial exploitation of the enormous amount of new knowledge which is being generated by pioneering research in Yorkshire’s universities."

University of York Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ron Cooke, said:

"The research record of our three universities is phenomenal. Coupled with that is a proven ability to work together. This people-focused project, which will promote commercial exploitation of our research, is set to benefit the cities in which we operate, the Yorkshire region and the British economy as a whole."

The Science Enterprise Challenge fund, first announced in the Budget by Chancellor Gordon Brown, was designed to fund universities to develop the combination of scientific excellence and commercial dynamism seen in centres of international excellence such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States. These new centres will become beacons of British excellence in promoting scientific entrepreneurs and commercialising first rate university research.

According to Science Minister Lord Sainsbury, the Government believes:

"It is vital for our long-term prosperity to build on our strengths as a country, and one of our key strengths is the excellence of our science base. We want to see centres of excellence in the teaching of entrepreneurship and commercialisation of our research which match the best in the world.

"The Science Enterprise Challenge offers the opportunity to realise this vision. These Centres will draw on best international practice in both commercialisation and the teaching of entrepreneurship and business skills with the science and engineering curricula."

(Source: DTI web-site)


Notes for Editors

1. The Science Enterprise Challenge was a two-stage competition open to all UK universities. Although the lead applicant had to be a university, other institutions could be partners in collaborative bids. There were 28 original bids, of which 12 were short-listed and 8 awarded.

2. The White Rose Consortium of the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York has won a series of major Government awards over the last two years, including:

3. In addition, the three institutions have, from their own funding, created 30 White Rose Doctoral Scholarships to support research in a broad range of subject areas.

For further information, please contact:

Vanessa Bridge, Press and Media Co-ordinator, University of Leeds, tel: 0113 233 4030;

Roger Allum, Director of PR, University of Sheffield, tel: 0114 222 1033;

Hilary Layton, Press and Public Relations Officer, University of York, tel: 01904 432029.