HC Deb 22 March 2001 vol 365 cc307-8W
34. Charlotte Atkins

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how he plans to encourage co-operation between universities, colleges and the business community. [153665]

Ms Hewitt

We have introduced a number of measures to encourage collaboration between higher education and business. We have established the £140 million Higher Education Innovation Fund to support higher education and business interaction—particularly with SMEs—and are supporting university innovation centres, which are regionally based partnerships between large businesses, groups of small businesses and academia. We are also running one further round of University Challenge and Science Enterprise Challenge to further assist the commercialisation of research and help bring business skills into the science curriculum, and will be supporting 20 Business Fellows to lead their academic colleagues in working with business. Collectively, this represents a significant public investment in knowledge transfer. We plan to maintain this investment through a permanent "third" stream of funding to reward and incentivise excellence in knowledge transfer alongside funding for research and teaching.

We are also working towards the target of 1,000 TCS Programmes running at any one time, enabling firms of all sizes to develop their competitiveness by using a graduate to embed new ideas or technology, and we have doubled the number of new starts of Faraday Partnerships so that the national network of at least 24 Partnerships will be in place by 2002. We will also continue to support LINK programmes which encourage businesses to work with the research base in universities and elsewhere.

Additionally, we have recently announced a further round of Foresight LINK Awards focused on key Foresight research priorities from Panel reports published last December.

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