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Issue 470, 8 October 2001

Support and praise for Leeds' knowledge transfer success ...

"Universities are embracing the culture of knowledge transfer, and the University of Leeds has played a leading role in taking this agenda forward," said Science and Innovation Minister Lord Sainsbury at the official opening of the University’s £2.4m Innovation Centre on Clarendon Road, opposite the Business School.

High praise for Leeds: from left, Lord Sainsbury, Professor David Hogg and Mark Shepherd

Talking of how globalisation, new technology and the current slowdown in the economy are creating a period of massive change, he said: "The only way we can prosper is through innovative skills and enterprise. Universities have to be at the heart of a productive economy. It's absolutely critical to keep product development, R & D and capital investment going." He praised Leeds for being the first university to have a technology transfer company, and for the pioneering partnership it has signed with the Forward Group.

The Innovation Centre, a joint venture with Shepherd Developments, provides high-tech, fully serviced office space for innovative start-up companies, many of which are University spin offs.
It is one element of the University's third arm strategy, which builds links between the University and business and industry, to ensure academics are able to fully exploit their ideas and research in a commercial context, and to market University research, expertise and resources to the wider economic community.

This strategy has received a further boost, following last week’s announcement of a £524,000 award to the University from the Higher Education Innovation Fund, part of the government’s knowledge exploitation funding programme.

The funding will enable the University to improve on the services it offers to business and industry: research and consultancy; tailor made learning programmes for staff development; recruitment of University graduates and student placement programmes. An outreach centre on the new Wakefield campus will ensure that companies in the area fully benefit from the opportunities available at the University.

The University will also extend the role it plays in bringing together major figures in regional development and building networks between the public sector, business chiefs and higher education.

Improvements in internal structures and communication will enable the University to respond effectively to business needs. A new business fellow will help academics participate in consultancy and corporate learning, or commercialise their research. Student work placements will be extended and centrally coordinated. Financial support will be given to academics to attend conferences dealing with industrial or business problems or challenges.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor for third arm activities Professor David Hogg said: "This funding will enable us to relate more directly to regional and global business and improve the already extensive knowledge transfer activities at the University."

For more information, see the Innovation Centre website:

... is credit where credit is due

One of the most recent tenants at the Innovation Centre is the spin-off company CreditScorer Ltd, launched by Professor Nick Wilson and Paul Wetherhill of the Credit Management Research Centre (CMRC).

CreditScorer Ltd, which has received a £250,000 investment from the White Rose Technology Seedcorn Fund, allows companies to check the payment behaviour of potential clients before they do business, through a new web portal –

The website provides access to real time data which can be manipulated on-line, for firms to benchmark their own performance against similar companies to see if others are facing the same credit problems. CreditScorer also gives companies risk scores, to inform lending decisions between banks and the corporate sector and between firms engaged in business to business (B2B) trade.

Other occupants of the centre include venture capital company the Forward Group, which in 1999 signed a groundbreaking £20m partnership with the University to help researchers commercialise their ideas; Evidence Ltd, which provides data on research activity and policy worldwide for public sector clients; and, most recently, the UK Mathematics Trust, a charity which runs the UK maths challenge for schools.

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