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University Challenge Fund

Volume 407: debated on Wednesday 18 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the objectives are of the University Challenge Fund; what progress has been made towards achieving those objectives; and if she will make a statement. [119639]

The objective of University Challenge is to deliver commercial opportunities by enabling universities to access seed funding to assist the commercialisation of their research. In their first three years of operation, the 15 Seed Funds established in 1999 have assisted the creation of 159 spin outs companies, the development of 81 patents and 11 licences.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the financial benefits to the UK economy from the University Challenge Fund have been found by her Department to exceed the money spent on it. [119640]

It is too early to assess the ultimate economic impact of the University Challenge Fund. However, by its third year of operation, initial investment of £30 million by the University Challenge Funds had attracted an additional £40 million from private sector sources. An evaluation of the University Challenge scheme will be carried out in due course.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much has been spent on the University Challenge Fund each year since it was started; what the projected level of expenditure is over the next five years; and whether these figures are different from projected expenditure levels when the fund was created. [119641]

The Government awarded £25 million towards the first round of University Challenge in 1998–99, and a further £15 million for a second round in 2001. Future funding for University Challenge activity will be provided as part of the Higher Education Innovation Fund for which a total of £171 million was allocated in Spending Review 2002. The grant drawn down by the University Challenge Funds each year is published in the DTI Consolidated Resource Accounts.