Universities Minister Chris Skidmore toured Queen Mary University of London’s Whitechapel campus as part of a funding announcement that will help universities stimulate growth in their local economies and provide vital support for innovative new companies.
Twenty University Enterprise Zones (UEZs), including one at Queen Mary, have been launched with a £20 million investment delivered by Research England, part of UK Research and Innovation.
They will strengthen collaborative ties between universities and businesses, helping small businesses and start-ups to succeed by providing access to space for them to grow, as well as specialist facilities and expertise.
The Queen Mary University of London UEZ has been awarded £1.5 million for its proposal which identified 1000m2 that will be converted into incubation space, offering business development support and infrastructure to help early stage bio-pharma, digital health and med-tech companies grow.
The UEZ will support the expansion aspirations of existing tenants in Queen Mary’s Innovation Centre and create opportunities for new tenants including digital health and bio-engineering businesses. It will drive economic growth and enhance health outcomes in Tower Hamlets – England’s third most deprived local authority.
Professor Colin Bailey, President and Principal of Queen Mary University of London, said: “This is great news for Queen Mary and our ambitious Barts Life Sciences programme. Our UEZ will bring enormous benefits to London’s East End and it demonstrates our enduring engagement with and commitment to our local community.”
During the tour, Professor Bailey explained the University’s vision for Barts Life Sciences to Chris Skidmore and showed him around Queen Mary’s Bioenterprise Innovation Centre and Blizard Institute.
Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, and London has a thriving ecosystem of local businesses and entrepreneurs whose creativity and determination help underpin the UK’s position as a leading innovator.
“Alongside this, many of London’s research community are right on the precipice of turning ground-breaking ideas into real products and services which could change the lives not just of people in the local community, but people around the world.
“Today’s funding will not only help local scientists take their ideas from lab to market – but will also support an enterprise hub at Queen Mary University of London. Providing space for local businesses to forge crucial partnerships, the UEZs will create jobs, drive local growth and provide SMEs with a vital steppingstone to succeed.”
Supporting innovative companies
Queen Mary’s proposal acknowledges that growth in London’s life sciences sector is held back by a lack of affordable workspace and the UEZ aims to change that.
Professor David Lee, Deputy Vice Principal for Research (Enterprise), said: “I am delighted that Queen Mary University of London has been awarded University Enterprise Zone status. The funding allows us to expand our successful Queen Mary BioEnterprises (QMB) Innovation Centre, which is one of the largest and most successful bio-incubators in London. We will be able to support more innovative Life Sciences companies which will help boost the local economy and bring health benefits to people in Tower Hamlets.”
Kalpana Chaturvedi, Assistant Director of Business Development, added: “This is a fantastic opportunity to accelerate Queen Mary’s existing activities and long-term strategic objectives to provide grow-on and incubator space to the next generation of tech entrepreneurs, business leaders and innovators ensuring that East London continues to attract the most exceptional talent. The University Enterprise Zone will be a great enabler in stimulating additional university-business engagement and greater innovation in the life sciences sector.”
The UEZs announced today will focus on a diverse range of industries, from aerospace and smart energy to Artificial Intelligence, and digital health services to agri-foods. Expertise and innovation from 20 universities will be shared with the private sector through the UEZs, establishing or expanding existing specialisms that will benefit businesses in local and regional economies.