Staffordshire University secures £4.8m to boost region’s economy

STAFFORDSHIRE University has been awarded £4.8m to help local businesses and boost economic growth across the region.

The Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) – £1.2m a year from 2011-15 – will be used to support start-ups and established businesses as well as pioneer new products and practices.

Sandra Booth, Director of Enterprise and Commercial Development at Staffordshire University, led the bid.

She said: “Our previous success in delivering knowledge exchange and enterprise activities has enabled us to secure this funding, allowing us to make further significant contributions to the local and regional economy.

“The HEIF funds will now be used on three key strands; creating growth, achieving innovation and embedding enterprise.”

It is forecast that over 100 new businesses and 200 jobs will be created with the funding. It will also be used to forge industry links through programmes such as Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) and Applied Research Centres (ARCs).

This has seen small and medium enterprises benefit from applied research and guidance in specialist areas including: digital media, design, mobile computing, electronics, renewable energy, security and medical technologies. And the University will be working to align its emerging technologies with market demand.

Schemes such as SPEED and EFS have also previously supported 163 new business start-ups, with around 90 per cent of these remaining in the region.

As well as using the HEIF funds to build on the success of these programmes, the University also plans to expand its internship opportunities. This involved over 70 placements from 2010-11 – 40 per cent of which were kept on at their respective companies.

Paul Richards, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Staffordshire University, said: “The HEIF funding is great news for Staffordshire and an endorsement of the successful work we are doing with employers and the wider community.

“We are committed to the Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) strategic priorities to support local economic regeneration through the creation of knowledge based private sector jobs and growth.

“Universities are central to economic growth and we have a long and successful track record of working with businesses to raise their competitiveness and introduce new products and processes.

“We engage with a diverse range of public and not-for-profit organisations and we are committed to supporting social as well as economic wellbeing across Staffordshire.”