Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: University enterprise zones

More than 20 university enterprise zones have been set up to help universities share knowledge and innovation with businesses and to promote local growth and skills.

£21 million
Partners involved:
Research England, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

The scope and what we're doing

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BEIS) invested £15 million of capital funding in 2015 to establish four pilot zones, in Nottingham, Liverpool, Bradford and Bristol.

The zones are specific geographical sites where universities and businesses work together to increase local growth and innovation.

The zones in the pilot aimed to:

  • encourage universities to strengthen their roles as strategic partners in local growth to engage with local enterprise partnerships, building on existing capabilities and partnerships
  • stimulate development of incubator or grow-on space for small businesses in locations that encourage businesses to interact with universities and to innovate.

A further 20 university enterprise zones have since won awards through £5 million funding from BEIS and £16 million from Research England, through the Research England Development Fund.

Why we're doing it

Universities today have a critical role to play in supporting local and regional economies – disseminating knowledge, sharing innovation with industry, supporting entrepreneurs and providing communities with the skilled workforces they need.

Many of our universities already do this well, but we want to support more of them to follow this path by establishing new university enterprise zones focused on generating and commercialising innovation and delivering skills that best serve the key sectors in their local and regional economy.

University enterprise zones provide a focal point where universities and businesses work together in a business-friendly environment.

Opportunities, support and resources available

There are currently no open funding opportunities.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

The Interim Evaluation of the RED UEZ Programme investment in 20 university enterprise zones (UEZs) provides evidence of the impact to date of the programme, including how they add value in the wider incubation or acceleration landscape.

The report draws conclusions on achievements of UEZs located in different types of places (for example, more or less developed areas), with a technology or industry focus versus generic, or by different types of business or types of support.

The evaluation also analyses the impacts on the programme of COVID-19 lockdowns and looks to future challenges and opportunities for zones to contribute to economic recovery.

Last updated: 18 October 2022

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