Business intelligence: £5.1 million investment places innovation at the heart of Leicester

Posted by ap507 at Jun 20, 2017 10:32 AM |
Leicester City to acquire a brand new Innovation Hub at the University of Leicester to incubate and accelerate a ‘production line of ideas’ for commercialisation by bringing together brilliant minds in business and academia to create a hotbed of innovation

Issued by the University of Leicester Press Office on 20 June 2017

Images of Professor Iain Gillespie and Anjuu Trevedi from the University of Leicester are available here:

A multi-million pound centre to foster and accelerate the next generation of innovators and innovations is being established in Leicester at the University of Leicester.

The Leicester Innovation Hub, a £5.1m dedicated creative incubation and innovation space in the heart of the city, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), will provide an easy to find ‘front door’ to the University’s innovation support, expertise and facilities. 

In addition, qualifying Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) based in Leicester and Leicestershire and graduates, interested in starting technology businesses, will also benefit from a range of free or heavily subsidised innovation support offered by the University from now until March 2020. 

The Leicester Innovation Hub’s total footprint is 1,360m2, with phase two due to open summer 2018, and will include:

  • An Innovation Accelerator - a three year project, part-funded by the ERDF and the University of Leicester to support local qualifying SMEs to scale up through the introduction or launch of innovation in their business or into the market
  • Leicester Start-Up Accelerator (Graduate Start-Up Hatchery space and support)  – for graduates to develop their exciting technology based business ideas with support from the University and our network of entrepreneurs
  • East Midlands Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications – promoting new business opportunities in the growing Space sector by demonstrating the commercial applications of satellite enabled data to develop new products, services and processes.  Specialist R&D and innovation support available through the University of Leicester and the Satellite Applications Catapult.   

Professor Iain Gillespie, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University of Leicester, said: “The University of Leicester is committed to delivering innovation, enterprise and partnerships.  Our Strategic plan’s focus is to increase our R&D and Innovation collaborations with business as well as the public sector and the third sector, and to intensively support student enterprise.  We want to play a leading role in driving the knowledge economy locally through the application of our research and academic expertise to drive innovation and incubating technology businesses. 

“Our success in securing European Regional Development Funding is very welcome and timely, providing essential match funds to enable the University to focus on collaborating with our local SMEs.  The Leicester Innovation Hub will provide dedicated incubation space for our bright entrepreneurial graduates to, ideally, start-up technology businesses locally.  The Leicester Innovation Hub will also help companies and recent graduates to learn how they can effectively benefit from the world-class expertise of the University of Leicester.

“My hope for the Leicester Innovation Hub is that it will play a critical role in helping our local businesses become more innovative and ultimately even more successful, and for the University of Leicester to be seen as an essential part of the Leicester and Leicestershire Innovation eco-system.”

The Innovation Hub has received a total of £2.55m grant funding from the EU with further £2.55m investment provided by the University. The University’s East Midlands Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications, Innovation Accelerator and Start-up Hatchery will be the first entrepreneurial projects to be based in the Leicester Innovation Hub.

The new Leicester Innovation Hub, based on the junction of Regent Road and University Road and on Salisbury Road, will be fully operational from September 2018 and in the interim will be operating out of 7-9 Salisbury Road from August 2017. An exciting feature of the Innovation Hub Reception is the high-tech digital video wall showcasing and demonstrating the latest innovations from the University and companies from across Leicester and Leicestershire we are working with. The Hub will also have interactive information points strategically located to showcase the breadth of expertise, support and facilities available for businesses from across the University. 

Head of Regional Business Engagement for the University Anjuu Trevedi, said: “The provision of dedicated incubation and innovation facilities at the University, in the form of the Leicester Innovation Hub, speaks to the core mission of the University.  Impact, innovation and the co-production of knowledge informs everything we do. I believe the Innovation Hub will be a fantastic asset for the region as well as the University as it will enable greater R&D collaborations, create more graduate level technology start-ups and retain more graduates in the area by encouraging and supporting our academics, businesses and smart graduates to address innovation opportunities and challenges. The Innovation Hub will provide the creative space and support to generate new ideas and dynamic space to demonstrate business innovations while creating future tenants for existing innovation and business centres in the city and county.  

“In essence, by working collaboratively with industry, we will be marrying great research with great business ideas to create and launch innovative products, services and processes.”

The University will provide access to a range of expertise that includes:

  • Earth Observation /Geographical Information Systems (GIS)  -  Support to identify, analyse and utilise Satellite enabled global spatial, environmental and geographical monitoring intelligence and data           
  • Data Analytics and AISupport to access our data analytics expertise and HPC to identify, create, capture, store, manipulate, analyse, manage, and present complex data to inform data driven innovations                                                                         
  • Automotive, Aero and Space Engineering - Support to access specialist engineering research and consultancy expertise, especially in structural vibration and acoustic testing and modal analysis built around the UK’s first commercially available robotized 3D laser Doppler vibrometer (LDV) 
  • Advanced Materials - Support to access expertise in advanced materials e.g. plastics, metals, composites, coatings & castings as well as recycling solutions  
  • Marketing and Business Planning - Support to access management and economics expertise through the University of Leicester’s School of Business to foster innovation and address business challenges and routes to new markets 
  • Precision (Personalised) Medicine - Support to access specialist expertise (Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Diabetes, Cancer, Infection, Immunity and Inflammation), clinical trials facilities and technologies to develop, test and launch new personalised medicines, products and technologies.  
  • EMBER (East Midlands Breathomics Pathology Node) - Support to access non-invasive breath analyses subsidised expertise, support and grant through Medilink East Midlands SoLSTICE (Smart Life Sciences Technology Innovation & Commercialisation Enabler) project, part-funded by European Regional Development Fund  
  • Structural and Chemical Biology - Support to access specialist structure-based expertise from bio molecular, chemistry and dynamics for drug discovery and design.  
  • Culture and Media - Support to access specialist expertise and insights into cultural industries, the creative economy, arts media and policy.   
  • Modern Languages for Export - Support to access translating and interpreting expertise  
  • Students and Graduates - Support to access our bright students and graduates for paid placements, internships and employment

Through the Leicester Innovation Hub, qualifying businesses based in Leicester and Leicestershire could be eligible for free or heavily subsidised innovation support, i.e. those employing fewer than 250 staff, with turnover less than 50 million euros and/or have a balance sheet of less than 43 million euros and have received less than 200,000 euros in public grants in the last three years.

The types of free or heavily subsidised innovation support to qualifying SMEs and graduates include:

-      Consultancy from our Academics and / or dedicated Innovation Fellows

-      Testing and analytical services;

-      Advice and hands on support to apply for innovation grant funding

-      One year industrial R&D (master’s level with academic supervision)

-      Student volunteering based environmental and sustainability projects and graduate internship projects

The University is interested in hearing from SMEs looking to scale up/grow their business through research and innovation – introduce new ideas – to launch new products, services and processes in collaboration. 

Businesses interested in finding out more should contact Ms Anjuu Trevedi on email:


Nick Pulley, Chair of the LLEP, said: “This is a fantastic investment for the city that will help to cement our unique role as the ‘Research and Development capital’ of the Midlands.

“We are fortunate to have three world class universities - all of which are at the cutting edge for innovative research, design and the production of goods and services that impact businesses and people across the globe. The Leicester Innovation Hub will be a key asset to graduate retention in Leicester and there are some really exciting opportunities which offer free support to SMEs and graduates who are looking to grow their technology businesses.”

Mike Dalzell, Leicester City Council's director of tourism, culture and investment said: “Leicester is a forward looking and entrepreneurial city, and leveraging the research and innovation expertise of our local university partners is important for our continued economic success. It is vital we have the right infrastructure to support growing businesses, and we particularly welcome the new Leicester Innovation Hub.”

Scott Knowles, Chief Executive of the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce highlights the importance of dedicated place based Innovation Hub and support:  “Ensuring entrepreneurs and SMEs getting the innovation support and advice they need is crucial to making their endeavours successful. It’s not easy starting and growing a business, many fail only because they don’t make use of the help and expertise available to them. Sometimes they just don’t know where to find it.  Many of the brightest talents and know-how comes out of our excellent local universities so it’s extremely good news that the University of Leicester now has the funding to provide dedicated creative incubation and innovation space and support exactly where it is most needed and will be most easily found.”

Leader of Leicestershire County Council, Nick Rushton, said: “The city and county are great places to do business, and we work very closely with the Local Enterprise Partnership, and the city council, to support the economy across both areas.

“I’m delighted that this Innovation Hub is being established, which will benefit companies from both the city and county, and create jobs.”   


European Regional Development Fund

The Leicester Innovation Accelerator in the Innovation Hub project is receiving up to £2.55m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.

Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit

About the University of Leicester

The University of Leicester is led by discovery and innovation – an international centre for excellence renowned for research, teaching and broadening access to higher education. The University of Leicester is ranked among the top one per cent of universities in the world by the THE World University Rankings. It is among the top 25 universities in the Times Higher Education REF Research Power rankings with 75% of research adjudged to be internationally excellent with wide-ranging impacts on society, health, culture, and the environment.

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Values and Vision

The University of Leicester is committed to a culture of collaboration.  We believe teaching and research are inseparable and that success is built on partnership and innovation. We have a focus on students and commitment to social mobility and foster a culture of equality where everyone is valued. We are committed to ensuring our successes drive local enterprise and business and contribute to the success of the city and region.  We have an international focus and celebrate the unique character of our University - a welcoming and close-knit campus in one of the most multicultural cities in the UK.  

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