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Innovation Centres to support business and university collaboration

03 April 2012

Issued by the Scottish Funding Council

In an ambitious initiative to create powerful new partnerships between universities and Scottish businesses, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), working with Scottish Enterprise (SE) and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), is making up to £10 million available in the first instance to support the development of new Innovation Centres.

These Innovation Centres will become sustainable communities of university academics and researchers, businesses, entrepreneurs and others that will drive innovation in and across Scotland's key economic sectors.

SFC is to invest up to £10 million to support the centres. A memorandum of understanding has been signed among SFC, SE and HIE to work together, utilising their respective expertise to support the centres. Businesses involved in the Centres will also be expected to invest. SE and HIE will help businesses to engage with the centres and support the commercialisation of any outputs.

The centres aim to help Scotland's economy and long-term future growth by building upon and evolving the innovation already happening in Scotland in support of the Scottish Government's economic strategy. As the centres develop, they will also become training grounds for the next generation of entrepreneurs and academics in Scotland.

As the engagement of the communities within the centres matures, it is hoped that more and more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be able to join and benefit, not only from the academic knowledge but also the business expertise of larger businesses within their sector. Successful centres will be designed to match the requirements oftheir sector and could include virtual, single or multiple site models offering a range of knowledge exchange and research projects and activities from developing networks to industrial studentship programmes.

In launching the call for proposals on behalf of the SFC, SE and HIE, Mark Batho, chief executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said: "This is an excellent opportunity for universities to drive forward progress in key sectors of the Scottish economy. Innovation Centres will build on Scotland's already strong track record of universities and businesses working effectively together to create an environment in which new partnerships can develop to share expertise and ideas. This is a unique opportunity to think ambitiously about what particular sectors need. I look forward to following the progress of the business and academic entrepreneurs and the innovative ideas and products that will flow from the communities formed."

Education Secretary Michael Russell said: "This project will further enhance the global reputation for excellence of both Scotland and the universities involved, as well as helping increase our capacity to successfully translate great ideas into growth and help our innovative businesses gain a competitive edge.

"I am especially pleased to see the collaborative working between the SFC and Scotland's enterprise agencies. This is a clear demonstration of how we are working collectively to realise the aims of our Economic Strategy and strengthen the link between Scotland's research base and business innovation."

Morven Cameron, Head of Academic Development at HIE, said: "We already have a number of businesses and universities working together on innovative projects across the region. We want to encourage these, and other ambitious partnerships, to come forward to help us to create thriving innovation centres."

Two information events are to be held in April to provide the business community with information on Innovation Centres. These will be held in Inverness on Thursday 26th April (attendance in person or online) and Glasgow on Friday 27th April. 

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