£5 million award to help innovation in the region

A connected system of technology transfer offices that will drive jobs and economic growth across the Midlands is set to be launched following a £5 million award.

The money which comes under The Connecting Capability Fund from Research England, will enable the Midlands Innovation university partnership to create Midlands Innovation Commercialisation of Research Accelerator (MICRA).

MICRA will act as a single gateway to the collective intellectual property (IP) resources from the eight Midlands Innovation universities - Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Keele, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick.

The Midlands Innovation universities already generate more new inventions and patents per unit of research income than any other leading group of UK universities, and the funding is expected to be a key driver for significant new investment and jobs in the region.

Collaborating with industry and organisations from all sectors, the MICRA programme will provide support and access for enterprise development, investment and investor relationships to help entrepreneurs drive their ideas forward, meet a wider community of like-minded people and find the most appropriate, targeted incubation support within the partnership.

Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Research and Knowledge Exchange, said: “At the University of Nottingham we are proud to work with world-leading universities across our region to help boost productivity and make the most of our potential. This funding - part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy - will help us do more to collaborate with each other, and with ambitious businesses and entrepreneurs.”

Dr Susan Huxtable, Director of Technology Transfer at the University of Nottingham, said: “The University of Nottingham has a strong track record of successful innovation with a number of successful exits from our spin-out portfolio this year.

“The vision behind creating the Midlands Innovation Universities commercialisation accelerator was to exchange best practice across the regions Technology Transfer Offices and allow a single point of contact for businesses and investors - this funding will allow the vision to be fully realised.’

The eight universities collectively have world leading R&D resources across several sectors, science parks and incubators, and strong industry links, and the Midlands Innovation partnership is well positioned to strengthen and expand the social and economic fabric of the Midlands. Working across the partnership, the Technology Transfer Offices will be able to access Intellectual Property Case Managers with detailed sector knowledge quickly and efficiently.

Professor Stuart Croft, Chair of the Midlands Innovation Board and Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Warwick, commented: “I am delighted that the Midlands Innovation partnership continues to go from strength to strength with the announcement of this Connecting Capability Fund Award from Research England. Our expertise and capabilities cuts across all disciplines and it’s rewarding to see how this activity is now translating into new and exciting strands for the partnership.”

The MICRA programme is awarded as part of new investment of £67 million through Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund (CCF) in fourteen new collaborative projects, between universities and with other partners, to drive forward world-class university commercialisation across the country.

David Sweeney, Executive Chair of Research England, said: “These projects demonstrate the commitment of universities to work together to strengthen the R&D and technological capabilities of the UK, building upon our successful Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF). In the Industrial Strategy, the Government asked us to improve our ability to turn exciting ideas into commercial products and services. Universities have stepped forward in these projects to show that they can do world class commercialisation, alongside world class science.

“I believe these projects present important innovations that should inform our strategic approach to commercialisation in UK Research and Innovation for the future.”