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Government launches £15m University Enterprise Zones pilot

The Government has announced it is to provide £15 million to fund three to four pilot University Enterprise Zones to house clusters of high tech start up companies that can access expertise at local universities.

The Zones, to be located in England, aim to make up for a shortage of private sector funding for office, laboratory and workshop space for companies in the early stages of their development. They will also provide affordable space for students to start businesses after graduating.

Universities will play a leading role in the new zones. They will work with Local Authorities and the existing Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to be engines of new business growth in the area.

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills will issue a call for expressions of interest in January in order to select up to four pilot zones.

Prime Minister David Cameron said  that as part of the Government's long-term plan to help secure Britain’s economic future, he wanted to see higher education and enterprise" work hand in glove" to boost growth and create more jobs. The new zones could help create the next Yahoo or Microsoft, he suggested.

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.”