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Higher Education: Business

Volume 485: debated on Thursday 18 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps his Department is taking to encourage the greater integration of higher education with business and industry. (245005)

The Government encourage integration of higher education with business and industry in many ways, a number of which are as follows.

The High Level Skills Strategy sets out why and how the Government are encouraging higher education institutions (HEIs) to help meet the demands of business through knowledge exchange, as well as by supplying skilled graduates and post-graduates and by providing high level skills learning for those in the workforce. For example, the 2008 Higher Education Funding Council for England (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.

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. There is a business support element of quality-related (QR) funding to HEIs, which in 2008-09 totals £61.7 million. Allocation is based on the amount of research income institutions receive from UK industry, commerce and public corporations.

During 2008-11 the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) will co-ordinate a £1 billion programme in partnership with research councils and the regional development agencies (RDAs) with a key aim of helping businesses to access the research base. In addition to this, the TSB invests in business-university collaborations through Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.

Research councils have a strong economic impact agenda and support activities which encourage working with business, including significant amounts of collaborative research. 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.

Together, these measures will help the HE sector work with Government, business and industry to ensure that the needs of a 21st-century knowledge economy are met, even in challenging times for the global economy.