Technology transfer pioneered by universities collaboration

Mark Payton, chief executive of Mercia Technologies

A group of eight universities from around the Midlands has launched its plan for a unique collaboration in technology transfer.

Midlands Innovation is a pioneering partnership which is looking to support the economic development of the Midlands by uniting universities and industry.

The collaboration, one of the UK’s most influential academic alliances, aims to drive cutting-edge research, innovation and skills development. Partners include the universities of Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Keele, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick.

Collectively, their academics generate more new inventions and patents per unit of research income than any other leading groups of UK universities.

The new collaboration was launched at The Shard in London during an event featuring speakers including Sir John Peace, chairman of Midlands Engine and Mark Payton, CEO of specialist university spin-out funder, Mercia Technologies.

The meeting outlined how in order to make these inventions easily available to investors and businesses, the universities’ technology transfer units had come together to provide a single point of access to intellectual property assets. This is intended to make it easier for investors to access opportunities and enhance support available for growing businesses.

Helen Turner, director of Midlands Innovation, said: “Midlands Innovation is looking for large ‘patient capital’ investors. People who are willing to back new ideas in the Midlands for the long term. People with vision and management talent who understand the potential for success in our region. People who will work with our great universities to create new value for the UK economy.”

Dr James Wilkie, CEO of University of Birmingham Enterprise, said: “The eight Midlands Innovation universities have an excellent track record for innovation. Combined, they produce more inventions and file more patents per £100m research income than any other group of universities.

“This innovation feeds through to commercial enterprise, and the region excels here as well, with the Midlands Innovation group producing more staff and student start-ups than SETSquared, the London Russell Group, or Oxford & Cambridge.”

Collectively, the various partners within the collaboration are incubating more than 500 businesses, helping many more to innovate.