Sheffield receives highest regional share of national university investment award

ResearchBusiness Secretary Vince Cable today (Thursday 15 November 2012) announced that the University of Sheffield will be amongst several UK universities to receive a share of a £60m investment, helping the most pioneering scientists and engineers create successful businesses from their research, improve industrial collaboration, and foster greater entrepreneurship.

The University of Sheffield will receive the largest share of the Impact Acceleration Award (IAA) to come to the Yorkshire region - £2.48m out of £5m going to three universities in Yorkshire (Sheffield, Leeds and York).

The University of Sheffield will use the award to build on the success of its Knowledge Transfer Account (KTA), which uses an array of flexible project schemes to strengthen links between research and industry, ensuring that the outputs of Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded research delivered maximum economic and societal benefit.

The University will use its IAA to deliver in four key areas: flexible support for secondments between the University and businesses or other organisations, turning research outputs into commercial propositions, engagement and culture change.

The announcement was made, during Global Entrepreneurship Week (12-18 November 2012), at a visit to the London studios of university spin-out company Space Syntax, an SME which uses advanced urban modelling techniques to design better cities and public spaces such as the redevelopment of Trafalgar Square in London and the re-planning of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

The funding comes from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the UK’s main funding agency for scientific research. The Impact Acceleration Accounts range from £600,000 to £6m and have been given to 31 universities across the UK.

It will help support universities’ best scientists and engineers to deliver greater collaboration with industry, bridge the gap between the lab and the marketplace, and help them become better entrepreneurs.

Professor Richard Jones, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at the University of Sheffield, said: "The University of Sheffield has an outstanding record of working with industry so that the science and technology we develop can help the economy, create jobs and make a positive difference to people's lives. This IAA funding will allow us to develop our partnerships further and accelerate the rate at which our research in engineering and physical sciences is translated into new products and improved processes in industry."

The Business Secretary said: “The UK's scientists are some of the most innovative and creative people in the world, but they need support to take their best ideas through to market. This could be by establishing a successful, technology-driven SME like Space Syntax which I visited today.

“This investment I'm announcing today will help our leading universities become centres of innovation and entrepreneurship, generating commercial success to fuel growth.”

The funding will support the very early stage of turning research outputs into a commercial proposition – the ‘Valley of death’ between a research idea and developing it to a stage where a company or venture capitalist might be interested. It will also allow universities to fund secondments for scientists and engineers to spend time in a business environment, improving their knowledge and skills and returning to the lab with a better understanding of the way companies operate and the challenges they face.

EPSRC chief executive Professor Dave Delpy said: “The research we support is recognised as outstanding on the international stage. These awards aim to make a step change in the impact that has on society: generating new business opportunities which drive economic growth, creating better, more informed, public policy.”

The awards are set to help companies to engage with research projects at an earlier stage and benefit from research breakthroughs and the fundamental knowledge they generate. The funding will be used to support partnerships with SMEs and larger companies and take some of the risk out of their investment.

Additional information

Visit Space Syntax Ltd

Media are welcome to attend the Business Secretary’s visit to Space Syntax on 15th November at 10am. Places are limited please contact EPSRC press office if you would like to attend.

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About Impact Acceleration Accounts

•EPSRC has awarded a total of £60m to 31 universities in the UK including 5 in Scotland, 1 in Northern Ireland, 2 in Wales.
•The awards range in size from £600,000 to just under £6m
•A full list and regional summaries are available – please call EPSRC press office.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800m a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change.

The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture.

Space Syntax
Space Syntax is a spin-out company which resulted from research funded by EPSRC at UCL. It employs around 20 people and provides strategic, evidence-based consulting services in economics, planning, design, transport and property development. Combining extensive global experience with robust and sophisticated technologies, they forecast the effects of planning and design decisions on the movement and interaction of people in buildings and urban areas. They work to de-risk property investment decisions, showing how the layout of places can be optimised to enhance the social, economic and environmental value of developments. Using a highly graphic, data-rich and audience-engaging set of techniques, we help our clients achieve powerful results quickly.

The University of Sheffield
With nearly 25,000 students from 125 countries, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK´s leading and largest universities. A member of the Russell Group, it has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen´s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, 2007). These prestigious awards recognise outstanding contributions by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom´s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield also boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and many of its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence around the world.

The University´s research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, ICI, Slazenger, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

The University has well-established partnerships with a number of universities and major corporations, both in the UK and abroad. Its partnership with Leeds and York Universities in the White Rose Consortium has a combined research power greater than that of either Oxford or Cambridge.


For further information please contact:

Amy Stone
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 1046