(Pictured: Keele University Science and Innovation Park. Source: Keele University)

Keele University has been awarded University Enterprise Zone (UEZ) status, which it says "Heralds a new era" for what is already a key site for high-value employment in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.

In the wake of receiving Enterprise Zone status, Keele University have announced the launch of their new Science and Innovation Park.

Investment from Research England in the Keele Growth Corridor University Enterprise Zone will leverage £33m of public and private sector investment.

This investment will harness the emergence of the University as a national research and development facility for innovation and at scale demonstration of smart digital technologies in the energy, transport and biomedical technology sectors.

New investment will also pump prime the creation of a seventh Innovation Centre on the Keele University Science & Innovation Park, with a focus on commercialising research on artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data.

UEZs are specific geographical sites where universities and businesses work together to increase the role of universities in driving innovation-led growth locally, and today’s award puts Keele amongst only 25 such zones in the UK.

UEZ status is awarded by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Research England to those institutions that can demonstrate how their research and development can be used to drive local business growth.

The case for enterprise zone status capitalised on the established ‘New Keele Deal’ partnership between Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Staffordshire County Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust that was formed to exploit the role of Keele University in driving innovation-led growth across and beyond the local area.

Launched in 2017, the deal targets the delivery of an extra £200m per year of growth in the local economy by 2023 in addition to the £200m a year that the university already contributes to the local economy.

The Zone forms part of the Keele Growth Corridor – a priority area for future housing and job creation in Newcastle-under-Lyme identified in the draft Joint Local Plan. It also ensures that national Research & Development collaborations forged by the University with major businesses including Siemens, Cadent and Amey have long-lasting local economic impact.  The Enterprise Zone status aims to ensure that the University fully exploits the government funding it receives to support research, and strengthen Keele’s role within Midlands Innovation: the eight research-intensive universities within the Midlands Engine.

Speaking about the award, Professor Trevor McMillan, vice-chancellor of Keele University, said: “We are delighted to have been named as a University Enterprise Zone and to join the small group of universities in the UK with this status.

“Through our work with local partners, Keele is already leading the way in a wide range of innovative business support initiatives, demonstrators and accommodation, and this new UEZ status will enable us to further build on these successes by providing much-needed incubator facilities and grow-on spaces for local businesses whilst also attracting new businesses to the region.”

Original article taken from theBusinessDesk.com