The University of Leicester is creating the Innovation Hub to “incubate and accelerate a production line of ideas” – from initial conception to commercial success.
It will give business access to academic know-how and also play a part in keeping graduate talent in the city.
The new centre will open in university premises in Salisbury Road, close to De Montfort Hall, this August.
By September next year, it will have expanded into nearby buildings at the junction of Regent Road and University Road.
The university wants it to be an easy to find “front door” to the innovation support, expertise and facilities it has to offer.
The hub will be home to:
- a three year Innovation Accelerator, helping small and medium sized business grow their ideas
- a Leicester Start-Up Accelerator to help graduates develop technology-based business ideas
- the East Midlands Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications, which will promote new business opportunities in the growing space sector
Much of the help will be “free or heavily subsidised” depending on things such as the size of the business.
Professor Iain Gillespie, university pro-vice-chancellor for research and enterprise, said they were committed to supporting student enterprise and growing the amount of research and development they did with businesses and public bodies involved in innovation.
He said: “My hope for the Leicester Innovation Hub is that it will play a critical role in helping our local businesses become more innovative and ultimately even more successful, and for the University of Leicester to be seen as an essential part of the Leicester and Leicestershire innovation eco-system.”
The hub has received £2.55 million grant funding from the EU, and £2.55 million from the university.
Anjuu Trevedi, head of regional business engagement for the university, said: “I believe the Innovation Hub will be a fantastic asset for the region as well as the university as it will enable greater R&D collaborations, create more graduate-level technology start-ups and retain more graduates in the area by encouraging and supporting our academics, businesses and smart graduates to address innovation opportunities and challenges.
“In essence, by working collaboratively with industry, we will be marrying great research with great business ideas to create and launch innovative products, services and processes.”
Areas of expertise the university wants to share include using satellite data to support global communications and information gathering; automotive, aero and space engineering; precision medicine and drug discovery and design.
There will also be support for marketing and business planning, translations support, and access to students and graduates for paid placements, internships and employment.
Scott Knowles, chief executive of the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, said: “It’s not easy starting and growing a business, many fail only because they don’t make use of the help and expertise available to them.
“Sometimes they just don’t know where to find it.
“Many of the brightest talents and know-how comes out of our excellent local universities so it’s extremely good news that the University of Leicester now has the funding to provide dedicated creative incubation and innovation space and support exactly where it is most needed and will be most easily found.”
Nick Pulley, chairman of the business support group Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership, said: “The Leicester Innovation Hub will be a key asset to graduate retention in Leicester and there are some really exciting opportunities which offer free support to SMEs and graduates who are looking to grow their technology businesses.”
Businesses interested in finding out more should contact Anjuu Trevedi by email or by calling 0116 252 3354.