Tap into Kingston University’s expertise and facilities with new business support programme

Kingston University is to share its talent, expertise and specialist facilities in a new business support programme for south London.

Kingston upon Thames is one of five boroughs that will benefit from BIG (Business, Innovation and Growth) in South London, run by the South London Partnership.

The programme will encourage businesses to tap into the world-class research and innovation expertise, professional short courses, student and researcher business placements and access to specialist facilities at the university and partner higher education institutions. It is supported by £6million of funding from the London Business Rates Retention Scheme.

Kingston is one of six universities (along with University of Roehampton, Wimbledon College of Arts, St Mary’s University, London South Bank University and Sussex Innovation Centre) involved in the pioneering programme which encourages collaboration between universities and businesses to promote economic growth, innovation and recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The university was instrumental in developing the BIG programme and is working in partnership with the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames to develop a bespoke programme aligned to the council’s economic and regeneration priorities. As well as a collaborative partnership with all boroughs in south London, the University has an especially strong relationship with its home borough, exemplified through its work on re-imagining the town centre and its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The programme was launched at a leadership summit by Councillor Gareth Roberts, leader of Richmond Council and chair of the South London Partnership, a sub-regional collaboration of the five London boroughs involved in the initiative – Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Richmond upon Thames, and Sutton.

Former Universities Minister Chris Skidmore MP was the summit’s keynote speaker. He described the programme as an “exciting step change” – one “that has the promise of strengthening not just the South London region and its economy, but your own institutions in turn.”

As part of the initiative, businesses can apply for a £5,000 Open Innovation Voucher, a competitive grant scheme, to work with one of the universities on a defined project, such as developing a new, or improving an existing, product.

Kingston University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Steven Spier, attended the summit and said the university was enthusiastic about its commitment to the programme.
“The pandemic has highlighted the role universities can play in their regions and their economies, and anything this programme can do to make it easier for business to work with universities is very welcome,” said Professor Spier.

“Kingston University is incredibly proud to be involved in this ambitious and exciting initiative and we look forward to working with local businesses to help rebuild our local economy and communities,” he added.

“As a university, we are well placed to support our local business community with a wealth of student and staff talent, academic and research expertise, and specialist facilities, and I urge our local businesses to make the most of what Kingston University has to offer.”

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