Universities in England get £50m in bid to drive growth
Universities in England are to receive a £50m cash injection intended to drive economic growth through "cutting-edge innovation and research projects".
The funding, shared among 16 projects, aims to create 500 new firms and 3,000 jobs, says Universities Minister David Willetts.
Research projects include digital media, energy, healthcare and satellite technology.
Mr Willetts said the funding would "harness the potential for growth".
This extra funding, delivered through the Catalyst Fund of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, is part of a strategy that sees universities and their hi-tech research as important drivers for economic recovery.
Clusters of universities and research centres, alongside industries and investors, have been seen as an international model of innovation growth - such as in Silicon Valley in the United States.Driverless cars
Mr Willetts said the £50m investment was part of the effort to "keep us ahead in the global race".
The clusters, as well as helping ambitions for national growth, are also seen as important to regional economies.
The investment also reflects the need to create highly skilled, graduate jobs which will be more likely to survive in a globalised economy.
End Quote Sir Alan Langlands Higher Education Funding Council for England
As well as immediate growth opportunities, the projects also help to lay a trail for long-term competitiveness”
A recent labour market study showed that for the first time there were more jobs in the UK that now required a degree than were available to those without any qualifications.
Unskilled jobs have been disappearing in recent years.
Among the projects being funded are the University of Nottingham's research into new applications for satellite technology, such as driverless cars and improving rail signalling.
Lancaster University will be funded for work in developing export markets in China in areas such as digital technology and low-carbon technology.
Improving food manufacturing skills is to be backed at Sheffield Hallam University and there is funding to support the University of Surrey's research into the next generation "5G" mobile communication.
"As well as immediate growth opportunities, the projects also help to lay a trail for the long-term competitiveness of the UK economy," said the funding council's chief executive, Sir Alan Langlands.
"Projects address key issues, such as encouraging more young engineers who are highly technologically literate and fascinated by the challenges of high-value and advanced manufacturing in a wide range of forms.
"They address how to make all parts of this country more economically resilient, through greater attention to innovation and high-growth potential in business."