Universities can bid for share of £15m enterprise fund

Sheffield’s two universities are being given the chance to bid for a share of a £15m Government fund to set up University Enterprise Zones.

Three or four zones are due to be created to accommodate clusters of high-tech start-up companies that can tap into the expertise of the local university, offering affordable business space after graduation.

The scheme is designed to encourage universities to foster innovation and growth locally, getting more involved with businesses and Local Enterprise Partnerships.

It is also hoped that the opportunity to create start-up businesses will help counter the drift of graduates from provincial cities to London, although Sheffield has traditionally had a high retention rate.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Our world-leading universities have historically been at the heart of innovation but we need to give them the tools to be even better at cultivating the seeds of growth as well as knowledge.”

Meanwhile, Sheffield City Region’s Enterprise Zone is getting up to £14.2m to speed the building of access roads on part of the zone at Markham Vale, at junction 29A of the M1. It is envisaged that up to £95.7m of private sector investment and 2,100 jobs will be triggered.

The Government is also giving £1.8m to help Sheffield Business Park, which is also part of the zone, to expand and attract investment.