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Higher Education: Business

Volume 482: debated on Tuesday 11 November 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps the Government have taken to strengthen the links between higher education institutions and the economy in their local areas. (234074)

The Government are supporting HEFCE’s development of a programme of activities that will help Higher Education Institution’s (HEIs) meet the high level skills needs of the economy, with a focus on enhancing the role of HE institutions in work force development. In particular, the 2008 HEFCE Grant letter allocated over £100 million of new resources over the spending review period to support new co-funded entrants, infrastructure development and wider employer engagement activity within HEIs. This will help HEIs make real progress in responding to the skills needs of employers and their staff and form a sustainable knowledge economy in which higher learning informs and improves economic performance.

The Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) gives every English HEI funding to build its capacity to work with business. This fund will reach £150 million per annum by the end of the spending review period. In their HEIF strategies, 83 per cent. of institutions said that small and medium enterprises were a target, and 85 per cent. were targeting knowledge exchange activity within the region.

During 2008-11 the Technology Strategy Board will co-ordinate a £1 billion programme in partnership with Research Councils and the Regional Development Agencies with a key aim of helping businesses to access the research base. In addition, RDAs will provide Innovation Vouchers to at least 500 businesses as a means for smaller firms to collaborate with knowledge institutions to help those firms boost their innovation.