Durham University is one of three organisations who are working together to encourage innovation, having received funding worth £820,000 which will be split between them.
The other two organisations in this joint effort are Business Durham, the business support service of Durham County Council, and the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI). Together, they will support innovative business development in key sectors including science, technology, and space.
The three organisations form part of the Emerging Markets Innovation Accelerator project, which focuses on supporting County Durham’s small to medium enterprises (SMEs), potential start-ups and university spinouts.
University spinouts are companies that transform technological inventions developed from university research that would otherwise likely remain unexploited, effectively acting as the vehicles for further development and the commercialisation of academic research.
To encourage the development of spinouts, the University is providing a targeted PhD enterprise programme to support PhD students with a bespoke entrepreneurship training programme focusing on deep technology commercialisation.
As for the other organisations, the CPI is delivering support to SMEs in the development and market positioning of new and improved products and advanced materials, while Business Durham is leading on a diversification support programme for businesses looking to explore new, emerging markets.
The project is also helping to map the skills needs for these emerging sectors and exploring the development of innovative solutions to address these needs. This involves working with regional partners and building upon what is already available to support skills development.
An important outcome from this collaborative project, using money from the Government’s UK Community Renewal Fund (CRF), will also be the development of innovation action plans aligned to the emerging markets in which County Durham has identified potential for growth, including net zero heat, fintech, space and advanced materials.
This will provide a blueprint from which CPI, Durham University and Business Durham can together drive ambition and raise the profile of the county’s capability for innovation, as well as help to position County Durham to secure future funding for this important work.
Sarah Slaven, Managing Director at Business Durham said: “We’re delighted to be collaborating with CPI and Durham University as we all have a strong track record in delivering projects, and in working together in partnership, including successfully delivering previous innovation support projects.”
Jenny Taylor, Head of Economic Development at Durham University, commented: “By working together to encourage more businesses to innovate we continue to create vibrant and collaborative ecosystems, bridging the gap between academic research and industry practice in County Durham.”
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