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University stretches out helping hand to local business

The University of Leeds is helping Yorkshire's local businesses stay on their feet by participating in a new innovation voucher scheme that aims to harness academic know-how.

Worth £3,000 each, the vouchers have been introduced by Yorkshire Forward to give businesses the resources they need to develop innovative products and gain a competitive advantage in the current economic crisis.  Vouchers can be redeemed at universities across the region.

In order to encourage businesses to come forward and make links with the academic expertise that exists at the University of Leeds, an event has been organised by the university to bring researchers, business executives and business consultants together to discuss how the voucher scheme can be put to best use.

"Despite encouragement from the government and financial incentives it can often be difficult for companies to know how to go about approaching academia for help with specific problems," says Professor Bronek Wedzicha, Pro-Dean for research, enterprise and knowledge transfer in the faculty of maths and physical sciences at the University of Leeds.

"We want to promote links between the University of Leeds and industry to make our research more accessible and beneficial for local businesses."
The networking event will take place on Monday 27th April between 12pm and 2.30pm. 

The voucher scheme has recently been introduced nationally, and Business Link Yorkshire is offering 50 vouchers each month to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the region.

Jim Farmery, Assistant Director of Business for Yorkshire Forward adds: "This initiative is an important one for our region's businesses and for the university. It builds on Leeds' reputation as a world leader in the area and excellent track record in the commercialisation of world class research."

The University of Leeds has a successful history of working with industry. Forty exhibition stalls will showcase the extensive research capabilities of: chemists, physicists, food scientists, biologists and mathematicians who will all be on hand to explain their expertise and experience.

A team of business consultants will also be on hand to discuss specific problems and provide information on how to win research and development funding.  The University is happy to help companies with the application process for innovation vouchers.

For further information:

Please contact the University of Leeds Press Office on +44 (0)113 343 4031 or email

Notes for editors:

More information about the Business Link Innovation Vouchers

The University of Leeds is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK with more than 30,000 students from 130 countries and a turnover of £450m. The University is a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities and the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise showed it to be among the top UK research powerhouses. The University's vision is to secure a place among the world's top 50 by 2015.

Yorkshire Forward

  • Yorkshire Forward is the Regional Development Agency behind the economic regeneration of Yorkshire and Humber. It aims to make a positive difference by investing in jobs, improving towns and cities, and in supporting businesses throughout the region.
  • Over the past year, Yorkshire Forward has created and safeguarded more than 25,456 jobs, assisted 35,165 people in skills, created 1,231 businesses and attracted £1bn in investment.
  • Yorkshire Forward's investment across the region is maximised by attracting European Regional Development Funding from the Objectives One and Two programmes and the 2007-2013 Regional Competitiveness and Employment Programmes.

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