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London's universities say ‘OpenSME’ to new support for capital's small businesses

A group of London's universities are launching a new collaboration – OpenSME – that seeks to make it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access the expertise and knowledge they offer.

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UCL team wins £65,000 funding for social enterprise support in higher education

14 March 2012

UCL

A team led by UCL has won £65,000 in funding for an innovative new project to support staff and students in higher education who want to start social enterprises.

The team, led by Professor Muki Haklay (Engineering) in partnership with UnLtd, the foundation for social entrepreneurs, and the University of Manchester has been awarded the funding by the Intellectual Property Office. The award forms part of their Fast Forward Competition which supports projects which will boost growth in the UK through the utilisation of Intellectual Property, as well as innovation in Higher Education more broadly.

One of only 13 applications to achieve funding out of a pool of 53 entries, over the next year the UCL team will bring together social entrepreneurs and staff from technology transfer offices – like UCL’s UCL Business – to develop an online toolkit to better support people in higher education who are keen to establish social enterprises.

“Too often, staff approach technology transfer offices keen to set up a social enterprise, but the offices are unfamiliar with the specific challenges of these ventures,” says Professor Haklay.

“Our project is designed to provide the resources for technology transfer offices so they feel confident in supporting social entrepreneurs and developing social enterprises, and ultimately increase the scope of the intellectual property they’re able to exploit, benefitting both the economy and, ultimately, society as a whole.”

The team is also exploring how to roll-out the outcome of the project to other universities and their technology transfer offices, too, for maximum impact.

Speaking about the awards to the successful applicants for funding, the Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Wilcox said:

“Bridging the gap between innovation and industry is key, and is vital for the UK’s continued growth, and these projects do just that. I look forward to seeing the real difference this year’s winners will bring to university and industry relationships.”

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