Edinburgh Napier University has announced a £12m plan to support over 3,000 enterprises through the economic downturn.

Central to the move will be the launch of nine institutes, designed to act as one-stop shops for businesses, to access expertise, research, facilities and product testing. EU project grants worth £8m and £4m of Scottish Government funding will be used by the institutes to engage with business more effectively.

The approach, which has been welcomed by CBI Scotland, will help develop over 300 products and services, and create more than 300 full-time equivalent new jobs.

The nine institutes will offer direct technical support, grants, specialist skills, training, facilities and equipment in sectors identified as key growth areas by the Scottish Government. These include construction, creative industries, digital markets, energy, financial services, food and drink, forest industries, life sciences, manufacturing, textiles, tourism and enabling technologies.

The institutes will sit alongside the university’s existing Transport Research Institute, Employment Institute and Edinburgh Institute of Leadership and Management Practice. Together, the nine institutes will work with Scottish and international companies of all sizes - from small start-up companies and public bodies, such as the NHS, to multinationals such as Diageo, Johnson and Johnson, NCR, GlaxoSmithKline and Jardine Matheson.

The move addresses the call from the Scottish Government and Scottish Funding Council to improve the transfer of research from Scottish universities into the Scottish industrial base, to make a direct improvement in the country’s economic development, productivity and innovation.

The principal of the university, Prof Dame Joan Stringer, said: ’The Institutes give businesses an easy access point to the wide range of expertise within the university. Whether a company is looking for management leadership skills, wants a product to be tested or wants to investigate the best scientific or technical approach, we want them to come and speak to us.’