Over £300,000 funding to fuel university boost to region’s innovation ecosystem

  • University of Leicester to lead a partnership with Loughborough University and De Montfort University and Leicester Start Ups to benefit innovation within Leicester and Leicestershire
  • Innovation Catalysed & Enabled (ICE) Leicestershire will create new accelerated pathways for intellectual property and ideas from the city and county’s universities

Innovation partners in Leicester and Leicestershire have been awarded £330K by Research England to develop a pioneering approach to creating new products, services and business from university ideas. 

The three universities of Leicestershire, alongside business partners are amongst a small number of projects to be selected by Research England to deliver on novel approaches to commercialise their research. 

Innovation Catalysed & Enabled (ICE) Leicestershire will create new accelerated pathways for university intellectual property and ideas. The University of Leicester, Loughborough University and De Montfort University will share IP and ideas with a community of businesses, graduates and students adopting an open innovation approach to sharing, testing, and developing business concepts. 

The target is to deliver novel products, services and businesses and energise the innovation culture of the city and county. The project will build connections with businesses and create opportunities for students to deploy and develop skills, build experience and catalyse enterprise. 

The delivery and success of the model will be reviewed and documented in order to deliver a scalable model capable of deployment across the UK. 

William Wells, Deputy Director of the Research & Enterprise Division at the University of Leicester, said: “The approach we will be adopting is genuinely novel and innovative in itself. It is possible because of the very close working relationships between the county’s university partners and effective co-design with the start-up community and local enterprise partnership. 

“Following the loss of European Regional Development Funding, this investment is a real boost to the local economy and will stimulate exciting new ways of working that Leicestershire needs.” 

Dr Nik Kotecha OBE DL, Chair of Innovative Leicestershire, said: “The Innovation Catalysed & Enabled (ICE) Project being led by the county’s three universities aligns powerfully to our strategic aims, as it will unlock the skills, knowledge, energy and networks within our local innovation eco-system. We are alert to, and champion, the significant innovation assets within our county, yet this is presently not exploited to the fullest potential. 

"We have low levels of investment in R&D in Leicestershire and low proportions of technology driven, export intensive businesses. Our region is also underserved by public investment overall, with the lowest level of public spending per head in the UK.

“This initiative is potentially transformational, as it seeks to challenge and tackle some of these key issues, and we stand ready to make the most of this opportunity.”

Professor Richard Thomas, Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University of Leicester, said: “The Innovation Catalysed & Enabled (ICE) project led by the University of Leicester in partnership with the county’s other universities builds on the economic impact that our innovation projects have on the regional community. It is aligned with the development of a regional patient capital fund, Midlands Mindforge which will be investing in innovative regional businesses. 

“We are really pleased that Research England has chosen to invest in innovation in our city and county and we look forward to developing best practice which can be further exploited here and in other parts of the country.” 

Professor Mike Kagioglou, Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Business Innovation, said: "As an impactful university rooted in our community, DMU is proud to be part of this project and work with colleagues at Leicester and Loughborough to help bring new ideas to market through this programme. This collaboration will make it quicker for new businesses to commercialise the intellectual capital within the three universities to positively impact business growth in our region through research and innovation."

Professor Dan Parsons, Loughborough University Pro Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation, said: “Across the region we have a vibrant research community with a strong track record collaborating on innovative research that turns ideas into successful businesses.

“This project helps create an ecosystem to better support our research entrepreneurs and encourage innovation. By cultivating an environment where postgraduate students and researchers with commercial ideas can benefit from accelerated pathways for IP leading to impact, we can create opportunities for our people, place and partnerships to flourish.”

De Montfort University, Loughborough University and the University of Leicester are part of the Universities Partnership civic agreement. The agreement is a commitment between the three universities and the city and counties of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland to work together for the benefit of local people and the prosperity of our places.