Success story from the University of Birmingham

The Midlands Innovation group of universities has launched the largest collaboration between university technology transfer offices in the UK, to attract investment and management talent to the region.

The Midlands Innovation Commercialisation of Research Accelerator (MICRA) will share best practice and share resources across technology transfer offices in Midlands universities. The partnership will support the development of spin-out companies, helping them to obtain finance and expertise, and accelerating the rate at which innovations are able to be commercialised.

The announcement was made at an event held on Friday at the University of Birmingham to over 120 invited guests.

The event – which had speakers including Alice Hu-Wagner, Managing Director for Strategy, Policy and Business Development and Markets at the British Business Bank and Alice Frost, Director of Knowledge Exchange at Research England – outlined the opportunities the Midlands region presents to industry and investors and the value of collaborations and innovation between industry and universities. Funded by Research England through the Connecting Capability Fund, the event heard about the challenges faced by universities in driving the uptake of their Intellectual Property (IP).

Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Birmingham, who welcomed guests to the event, said: “The benefits of MICRA to the region will be significant. Strengthening the innovation ecosystem to encourage closer links between the technology transfer offices and high-quality incubation spaces most suitable to individual business needs, will stimulate the growth of innovation-led businesses in the Midlands.”

Helen Turner, Director of Midlands Innovation, said: “Midlands Innovation provides a collaborative structure which enables technology transfer offices to strengthen their capacity and share best practice. By working together MICRA aims to attract large ‘patient capital’ investors who are willing to back new ideas. People with vision and management talent who understand the potential for success in our region.”

“Midlands Innovation unites the power of university research with the unique strengths of Midlands industry to drive pioneering research, innovation, skills development and economic growth.”

Dr James Wilkie, CEO of University of Birmingham Enterprise commented: “The UK has eighteen of the 100 most innovative Universities in Europe – and four of these are in the Midlands Innovation partnership. We also have an enviable translational landscape that is attracting increasing attention from overseas, and a rich history of collaboration with companies of all sizes.”

Professor Stuart Croft, Vice-Chancellor and President at the University of Warwick, who invited guests to explore the opportunities offered at the event, said: “The MICRA project shows clearly what can be achieved when universities work together. Drawing on the collective partner strengths is fundamental to what the Midlands Innovation partnership was set up to do.”

Commenting on the MICRA launch event, Alice Frost, Director of Knowledge Exchange at Research England, said: “Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund is investing in eighteen projects to demonstrate the world class commercialisation practiced in our universities. This includes MICRA being launched today – an ambitious project bringing together the largest formal technology transfer collaboration in the country, with benefits for research, the Midlands area and for delivering the Government’s Industrial Strategy and 2.4% target.”

Within easy reach of London, the Midlands is essential to national economic success. The region is responsible for over a fifth of the UK’s total manufacturing capability. The services sector in the Midlands accounts for over four million jobs and is worth around £158 billion a year.

Midlands Innovation unites the power of university research with the unique strengths of Midlands industry to drive pioneering research, innovation, skills development and economic growth. Collectively partners are incubating more than 600 businesses and supporting over 1600 jobs.

Midlands Innovation partners include the universities of Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Keele, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick. Academics in these universities generate more new inventions and patents per unit of research income than any other UK universities group.

On the photo (L-R): Professor Alec Cameron, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of Aston University, Professor Paul Boyle, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University, Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Birmingham, Professor Stuart Croft, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Warwick, Professor Trevor McMillan, Vice-Chancellor of Keele University, Professor Shearer West, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Nottingham, Professor Robert Allison, Vice-Chancellor and President of Loughborough University

Published: 15 October 2018