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SETsquared, a leading university enterprise partnership in the UK has secured £64,750 of funding to establish and encourage open innovation between big businesses, primes, universities and SMEs.
SETsquared, a collaboration between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, will use the cash to run a programme of work including bespoke “one to many” forums that will bring together large corporate companies or public sector organisations that are interested in creating open innovation relationships with SME ‘growth companies’.
The ‘Meet the Prime’ initiative follows two successful pilot events created by SETsquared in Bath last year involving BT and NHS South West.
SETsquared’s Partnership Director, Graham Harrison, welcomed the allocation of £64,750, which came from the Intellectual Property Office’s Fast Forward competition. He said it would open up huge opportunities for companies within SETsquared’s acceleration centres in Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey.
He commented: “The funding and subsequent extension of our ‘Meet the Prime’ programme of activities really does allow us to act as the connector between large corporates and the high tech, high growth start-ups from across the five incubators.
“The benefits of these forums and an open innovation approach definitely flow both ways. By collaborating with a number of start-ups, rather than investing heavily in only one, large companies are able to generate greater returns, allowing them to take products to market faster. On the other side of the coin, for start-ups we are able to open up opportunities to sell into large organisations and act as their guide throughout the process, advising on issues such as IP.”
Simon Bond, SETsquared’s Innovation Centre Director in Bath, added: “Open innovation is playing an increasingly important role in the evolution of corporate venturing. In a globalised economy, more and more corporate companies are realising that innovation and speed to market are vitally important.
“Rather than seeing their corporate venturing targets as proxy R&D departments, or the means through which to access new markets, some corporates are developing a more sophisticated view of how start-ups can exist and flourish within their own supply chains. We are expecting these events to be highly-sought after.”
Alan Scrase, Manager of the SETsquared incubation centre at the University of Southampton, concluded: “This initiative will facilitate open innovation in the widest sense. The prime will see what exciting things the SETsquared network’s firms have to offer, both as suppliers but also as possible exploiters of the technology the primes may have sitting on their shelves.”
The Intellectual Property Office’s Fast Forward Competition is designed to encourage universities and public sector research establishments to collaborate on innovative and sustainable approaches to knowledge transfer. This in turn aims to develop university research to real world products and services.
The competition was open to UK universities and Public Sector Research Establishments (PSRE) and saw more than 77 entries.
A total of £750,000 was awarded to 12 different entries from the competition, with prizes ranging between £12,000 and £90,000. The prizes were awarded to entries from areas such as healthcare, design, clean technology construction and social enterprise, engineering and aerospace.
Lord Younger, Minister for Intellectual Property, said: “I am pleased to recognise and reward such a diverse range of projects. The winning projects have taken the best of UK research and academic knowhow and collaborated with innovative industries to capitalise on each others’ strengths.
“It is vital for universities and industry to find new ways of working with different partners in new areas and supporting growth. These projects embody that mindset and I congratulate them on their success.”
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