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Solent LEP celebrates Global Entrepreneurship Week by Backing Future Makers

15 November 2017

The Solent LEP is celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week with renewed efforts to keep the Solent economy at the forefront of new ideas, innovation and investment.

The LEP has invested over £8m to date across a range of projects which will bring forward new research, ideas and start-up businesses in the Solent, including the new Future Technology Centre at the University of Portsmouth, next phase of expansion at Fareham Innovation Centre, the UKs first maritime autonomous systems testing facility and UKs first dedicated Centre for Cancer Immunology.

Building on this strong track record of investing in innovation, funding is now being made available for projects at the University of Southampton capitalising on the growing potential of the Web through the new Z21 Innovation Fund.

The fund, a collaboration between the University of Southampton and the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), launched today with an event at the University’s Highfield Campus during Global Entrepreneurship Week that saw representatives of Solent LEP and the Web Science Institute unveil plans alongside investors, external mentors, students and University staff.

The fund is inviting applications from within the University of Southampton for web-related research projects and early stage commercial initiatives that can be accelerated towards commercialisation and angel funding. Web-based startup projects will be supported towards success with expertise, facilities and support from a network of mentors connected with the University.

Solent LEP has invested £500,000 to support the initiative, which is being matched in-kind by the University, with a view to the Innovation Fund supporting at least 16 potential ventures by March 2019 and generating 40 new direct jobs in the Solent region by March 2021.

Two beta projects from the University have started receiving support from the Z21 Innovation Fund. Aura Vision Labs, founded by two PhD students, is pioneering the next generation of video analytics and the Web Observatory, founded by a research team, is developing a ground-breaking marketplace for datasets and data analytics applications.

Anne-Marie Mountifield, Chief Executive of Solent LEP, commented: “The Solent economy has seen the emergence of new ideas and innovation in the past few years which has underpinned the growth of the Solent economy as a whole. Among the factors underpinning this are the strong knowledge assets of our three universities, each of whom invest in the region’s small business base. The Solent LEP is delighted to be working in a new ground-breaking collaboration with the University of Southampton and our £500,000 Z21 fund delivered in partnership with the Web Science Institute will help create our next generation of innovative University spin-outs.”

Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Executive Director of the Web Science Institute and Regius Professor in Computer Science, added: “The University of Southampton is home to some of the most talented students, researchers and academics in the world and benefits from cutting-edge facilities. The Z21 Innovation Fund represents a unique and exciting relationship between the Solent LEP and the University of Southampton that will drive innovation into the real world.”

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