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Saturday, 23 August 2014

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University of Cumbria may go for slice of £15m from government

The University of Cumbria is considering whether to bid for a share of £15m of new Government money which aims to help create innovative businesses and boost economies.

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Dr Michele Lawty-Jones: ‘The university is currently examining the options and opportunities that this new initiative may offer’

The Government has announced it wants to create three or four new ‘university enterprise zones’.

It is proposed the pilot project would create clusters of hi-tech start-up companies across the country which can access the expertise of their local universities.

In return, the zones will offer affordable business space for students to start businesses after graduation.

The scheme is designed to combat the shortage of private sector funding for office, laboratory and workshop space for innovative firms.

Universities will be expected to work with councils, local firms and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP).

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) says the new pilot schemes will allow universities to drive local growth plans and support entrepreneurship and innovation.

A competition is being launched by the Department for Business this month to choose the pilot areas.

There are already 24 LEPs across England, one of which is in Cumbria.

Dr Michele Lawty-Jones, enterprise and business relations manager at the University of Cumbria, said: “The university is currently examining the options and opportunities for Cumbria that this new initiative may offer.

“Based on the results of detailed discussion with partners early in the new year, and the detail of the call, which will be released by government in January, we will assess the opportunity and whether to submit a joint bid. Either way, the University of Cumbria remains committed to supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses across Cumbria,” added Dr Lawty-Jones.

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said: “Our world class universities are the perfect places to drive innovation, support the growth of the local economy and keep the UK ahead in the global race.

The expert knowledge base we have combined with new business ideas will make University Enterprise Zones powerful tools for local success.”

The potential of a new enterprise zone designation would further boost the work the University of Cumbria is doing to bolster business and the economy in the area.

The institution is already working closely with local firms and councils following the recent opening of its new Business Interaction Centre.

The centre is located in Paternoster Row, in Carlisle city centre.

It was launched in November by the university’s chancellor, the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu.

It aims to provide a link between students, graduates, academics, and industry. It offers space for businesses and graduates who want to set up their own ventures.

The building was previously used by the university as part of its backroom services.

The centre’s arrival has been welcomed by Carlisle City Council leader Colin Glover.

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