Industry Secretary Alistair Darling announced today (18 May 2006) that the University of Birmingham is one of 11 universities out of 93 applicants from across England to win a grant from the competitive round of the Higher Education Innovation Fund 3 (HEIF 3).

The award of £3.6 million will see Birmingham Business School in partnership with the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and the InnovationXchange Australia setting up the UK pilot of a new and rapidly developing International Innovation Exchange (IXC UK). By taking a highly innovative approach, the exchange will improve university-to-business and business-to-business engagement and development.

Revolver Records, who have already signed up to work with this new approach, will be working with one of the first new staff to be appointed, exploring with them the challenges the company faces, so that the IXC team can find ways in which knowledge and expertise embedded in universities and other member companies in the network can help them maintain and improve their competitive position in the music business. Active discussions are also on going with a number of other companies in the UK about the benefits of joining.

The IXC UK will provide a secure, managed and confidential environment for the exchange of commercial insights and opportunities in order to make best use of the reservoir of knowledge residing in the University sector.

The foresight of the panel that judged the bids will also ensure the UK secures a place on the Board of the International Innovation Exchange as one of the founding partners and will be able to influence future direction for the benefit of the UK economy.

Professor Jonathan Michie, Director of the Birmingham Business School who will lead this project, says, ‘We are delighted to have been awarded this grant from such a strong field and acknowledge the support and help of Sir Digby Jones and other members of the School’s Advisory Board who first brought this idea to our attention. Special thanks also to Advisory Board member, Bob Herbert, Chair of the Australian hub of this new exchange and his team who have worked so hard with us to develop this idea for application in the UK.’

Caroline Bishop, Assistant Director of Business Development from the University of Birmingham, who will be responsible for taking this project forward for the Birmingham Business School, says ‘Birmingham is well placed to lead the development and implementation of this pilot project as it has an outstanding record in research, is strategically well-placed in the Midlands and has a pre-eminent position within certain research spheres, already enjoying strong bonds with industry. All of us who will be working on this project are looking forward to making it succeed.’

There was further good news for the West Midlands Region as Alistair Darling was also able to confirm that the University of Wolverhampton has also secured its bid in which the University of Birmingham is a key partner. This will see new initiatives coming on line to encourage and further support entrepreneurship amongst the student body.


Notes to Editors

This University of Birmingham pilot will:-

Employ a new cadre of staff called Intermediaries who, using this new and highly innovative alternative approach to the task of innovation, will work in both companies and universities to find ways in which the confidential, emerging and deeply hidden business intentions and inventions of each organisation can be connected together. This will:

Enable the participating organisations to combine their capabilities to find better ways to exploit their IP.

Provide new product and service developments, opening up new global markets for UK businesses and Higher Education Institutions.

Secure strategic collaboration between universities and business both here and overseas.

Through the membership of the International network of which the UK will become a hub, connect businesses and HE internal programmes to external global networks, providing opportunities to exploit the UK knowledge base and secure invisible export earnings.

Provide previously inaccessible licensing opportunities for HE and therefore an additional flow of royalties to the HE sector. Where this is from overseas licensees it will generate invisible export earnings for the UK.

Allow the scale up and marketing of new discoveries in HE and business to proceed swiftly, generating benefits to participating universities and companies and the UK economy.

Open up more opportunities for industry funded contract research for HE and enable academics to undertake consultancy for companies, broadening their understanding of business need and improving business performance.

The pilot itself will create additional jobs through stimulating additional industrial research funding in universities as well as through business, developing the University’s research into new products and services which generates additional employment.

For further information

Professor Jonathan Michie, Director of Birmingham Business School, tel 01630 685348

Caroline Bishop, Assistant Director, Business Development University of Birmingham, tel 07920 547 044

Kate Chapple, Press Officer, University of Birmingham, tel 0121 414 2772 or 07789 921164.