Press release

£15 million boost for local business growth at universities

A new £15 million scheme will allow universities to drive local growth plans and support entrepreneurship and innovation.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


As part of the government’s long-term economic plan, a new £15 million scheme will allow universities to drive local growth plans and support entrepreneurship and innovation.

University Enterprise Zones will provide funding to locations across England. The zones will allow business spaces to be built that can host a range of new high-tech companies in the early stages of their development. These innovative small businesses will then be able to share the expert knowledge at the university, helping them to grow and prosper. A competition will be held in the New Year to select 3 to 4 pilot zones.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

As part of our long-term plan to help secure Britain’s economic future, I want to see higher education and enterprise work hand in glove to boost growth and create even more jobs. 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.

University Enterprise Zones will unlock the potential of so many students who will be able to move into affordable business space and start to build their own business straight after their degree. I want to see University Enterprise Zones help create the next Yahoo or the next Microsoft – bringing jobs and prosperity to both the local and wider economy and helping us succeed in the global race.

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said:

Our world class universities are the perfect places to drive innovation, support the growth of the local economy and keep the UK ahead in the global race. The expert knowledge base we have combined with new business ideas will make University Enterprise Zones powerful tools for local success.

Universities will play a leading role in the new zones. They will work with Local Authorities and the existing Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to be engines of new business growth in the area.

If the initial pilot zones are successful then more may be created in the future.

Notes to editors

  1. University Enterprise Zones aim to:
    • encourage universities to engage further with business and with LEPs in driving innovation and growth at a local level
    • encourage businesses with innovation potential to engage with universities
    • address the issue that there is little or no appetite in the private sector to invest in buildings on science parks providing office, workshop and laboratory space for small firms (incubator and grow-on space)
  2. BIS will launch a call for expressions of interest for 3 to 4 pilot University Enterprise Zones in January 2014.
  3. Like the existing 24 Enterprise Zones, University Enterprise Zones will support entrepreneurship and business growth. Because they focus on interaction between businesses and universities, there will be different advantages from locating in the zones. Where existing Enterprise Zones offer discounted business rates and high speed broadband, government will support University Enterprise Zones with funding for space for small businesses.
  4. £15 million funding has been provided from HM Treasury for the pilot. In many university areas there is a shortage of investment in office, laboratory and workshop space for innovative small businesses. UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) will also work with the local partners to attract overseas investment to the zone. The success of the new zones will be seen in increased numbers of innovative small businesses clustered around and engaging with universities.
  5. The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:
    • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
    • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
    • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
    • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

Published 13 December 2013