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University helps businesses in times of economic difficulty

Businesses and individuals across Yorkshire affected by the recession are set to benefit from a range of free or subsidised support initiatives from the University of Leeds.

In addition to its already extensive programme of business support services, the University is delivering four new innovative projects aimed at aiding SMEs to develop new products and technologies, allowing employers to sample potential talented recruits whilst giving graduates sound practical experience to increase their employability, and to provide crucial skills training to help individuals affected through redundancy.  

The new initiatives have been developed with funding from the Government's Economic Challenge Investment Fund and from Yorkshire Forward. 

Professor Richard Williams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise, Knowledge Transfer and International Strategy says: "These new initiatives further enable the University of Leeds to contribute to the region's economy by working with businesses during these challenging times and to help individuals to increase their attractiveness to employers.  Universities have a responsibility to provide support and assistance to the business community and those affected by recent changes in the economy.  

"There has always been a great willingness at the University to share knowledge and provide resources and make a positive contribution to society." 

The four projects are: 

SME Innovation Network

A networking club for SMEs in the Yorkshire and Humber region, providing members with opportunities to explore and realise innovative solutions to business issues with other business owners and academics at the University. It will also provide workshops around business issues, open innovation methodologies and financial support to commission innovation work from within the knowledge base. 

Yorkshire's University Careers Services Graduate Internship Programme The programme is offering subsidised graduate internships to businesses in the region, providing access to some of the country's brightest graduates for placements of 12 weeks. 

Executive Management for SMEs

Leeds University Business School and Bradford School of Management are providing high level management skills training to SMEs. These two leading business schools are providing a support and development programme to help companies address current problems and plan for the future. 

West Yorkshire Lifelong Learning Network This project will support the newly unemployed and those seeking a change in career direction, in some cases working with companies where people are being made redundant. It aims to help through enhanced careers guidance, workshops and access to relevant HE courses. 

Companies interested in any aspect of these projects, either for the health of their business or for their staff, should contact Richard Keegan to find out more. 

For further information:

Please contact the University of Leeds Press Office on +44 (0)113 343 4031 or email pressoffice@leeds.ac.uk

Notes to Editors:

The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise showed the University of Leeds to be the UK's eighth biggest research powerhouse. The University is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. The University's vision is to secure a place among the world's top 50 by 2015.

Case studies of the ways in which similar initiatives have assisted businesses and individuals are available from Campuspr Ltd. Call Jo Kelly or Clare Elsley on 0113 258 9880 or email: jokelly@campuspr.co.uk or clare@campuspr.co.uk

The Economic Challenge Investment Fund was set up by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, as a rapid response mechanism to enable universities to work in the local and regional communities to deliver potential solutions to issues caused by the economic downturn.

Yorkshire Forward is the regional development agency for the Yorkshire and Humber region. It is funded by the government and is tasked with improving the region's economy.

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