Bath will lead the project in the South of England through the SETsquared Partnership of the universities of Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, pooling resources to facilitate new research collaborations with highly productive and fast growing SMEs.

The funding is awarded from the Connecting Capability Fund (CCF) to support universities in working together and with external partners to commercialise research, helping to deliver the Government’s Industrial Strategy.

The project will focus on four key technology sectors: advanced engineering & manufacturing; digital innovation; environmental, sustainable, marine/maritime; and health & wellbeing.

In total, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has allocated £20 million to five university partnerships across England.

Jo Johnson, Universities and Science Minister, who announced the funding today, said:"The commercialisation of research and stronger working with business forms a key part of our Industrial Strategy, and through the Connecting Capability Fund we are strengthening collaborations between universities and with businesses to enable more ideas to become innovative solutions, boosting the UK economy.

“By building on our reputation as a pioneering nation, and investing an additional £4.7 billion for research and development, we are making sure that the UK remains one of the best places in the world to innovate, do business and create jobs.”

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, Vice Chancellor at Bath, said: “This new funding award provides a tremendous opportunity to spread the benefits of university knowledge, skills and technology to enterprises and communities across the South of England. Together with our partner universities in SETsquared we have a strong track record of helping companies to innovate and grow and we look forward to the opportunities and challenges this will open to researchers.”

Dr Jon Hunt, Director of our Research & Innovation Services, added: “This exciting project aligns the different research strengths of the SETsquared universities with the combined power of our enterprise and innovation activities to create connected research enterprises. It's an evolutionary step for the SETsquared Partnership, building on our status as the world's leading university business incubation centre.”