Byers announces £40m to turn ideas into business successes

Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers yesterday invited applications
for bids to help transform British scientists’ bright ideas and discoveries into commercial successes for the UK.

Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers yesterday invited applicationsfor bids to help transform British scientists’ bright ideas and discoveries into commercial successes for the UK. A fund of £40m has been made available as a result of the Science and Innovation White Paper for this purpose.

Under the initiative universities and laboratories across the UK have until July to bid for financial support to help develop new products, build up links between universities and business, and improve the commercial exploitation of research.

In the past scientific discoveries by UK scientists have not always commercially benefited UK business. Fibre optics, liquid crystal displays, and even computers were all the result of UK science but have been most effectively exploited by other countries.

The Government has now set aside £15 million to improve product development – paid out under the Government’s University Challenge Fund, which will provide researchers with access to ‘seed’ funding for products in the early stages of development.

A further £15 million will be made available to build up links between businesses and universities. The Science Enterprise Challenge funding will help to establish new centres and expand the twelve existing science enterprise centres at universities across the UK.

An additional £10m will be available to support the commercial exploitation of research at public sector laboratories under the Public Sector Research Exploitation Fund.

‘The UK has a history of producing interesting, and often visionary ideas, but then failing to take commercial advantage of them,’ said Byers. ‘Our universities and laboratories are overflowing with talent and this investment will ensure that the UK’s scientific discoveries are turned into new products in this country, creating jobs and boosting our economy.’

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