Staffordshire leaders have welcomed the launch of the University Enterprise Zone which aims to kickstart business growth and productivity.
We see this as part of our Civic responsibility. We have an important part to play in creating high-value jobs that our graduates can apply for, to drive innovation and growth in specialist areas and provide SMEs with a vital stepping-stone to succeed.
Professor Martin Jones, Deputy Vice-Chancellor
Staffordshire University is one of 20 University Enterprise Zones (UEZs), announced last September and launched with a £20 million investment by Research England.
The investment has funded new incubation space and a hatchery for start-up companies in the Mellor Building on the University’s Stoke-on-Trent campus. It has also funded new Innovation labs, which are equipped with the very latest advanced materials and advanced manufacturing technology, for use by companies wanting to design, prototype and test new products.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Martin Jones said: ”We see this as part of our Civic responsibility. We have an important part to play in creating high-value jobs that our graduates can apply for, to drive innovation and growth in specialist areas and provide SMEs with a vital stepping-stone to succeed.
“The IEZ is our ecosystem in that it is bringing together the businesses, the technology, research and academic expertise in an environment that allows ideas to flourish and innovation to grow. It’s important we act now to help the region’s economic recovery from COVID-19.”
Sara Williams, CEO of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, praised the investment in state-of-the-art laboratories, new materials testing and research and development facilities:
“The resource Staffordshire University is offering is going to be fantastic in helping our SMEs to grow and if we can do that across the board we’ll have a completely different economic base very quickly and that will make a massive difference to the economy and to the opportunities for people across Staffordshire.”
Alun Rogers, Chair of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP, added: “As we move from response to recovery, it is about getting the economy going again, starting to tackle the issues around unemployment and at that point you need as much stimulation as possible and bringing universities and businesses together is a critical way of doing that.”
MP for Stoke Central Jo Gideon said: “This is an exciting investment in facilities and expertise that could make a real difference to forward thinking SMEs in our area. Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently agreed to join me for a virtual tour of Stoke-on-Trent and a roundtable with key partners and the Innovation Enterprise Zone is precisely the kind of initiative that deserves to be showcased. I hope it will act as a catalyst for further investment in the infrastructure of our city region, enabling us to level-up.”
The University is running a series of free webinars focused on employer support available through the IEZ, as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2020.