University leaders have vowed to form close working links with local businesses, giving them the chance to make the most of the expertise, research and facilities at their disposal in the region.

Representatives from the South East Midlands Universities (SEMU) addressed dozens of businesses at the Innovation for Business Conference & Marketplace event, held at the Transport Systems Catapult Centre in Milton Keynes last week.

Organised by the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) through their Velocity Business Support programme, the event aims to support innovation and economic growth and to explore the challenges of innovation and commercialism.

Experts from Cranfield University, The Open University, The University of Northampton, University of Buckingham, University of Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire New University and University College Milton Keynes (UCMK) showcased their potential to support businesses in becoming more competitive and innovative at the event.

Daniel Mouawad, chief executive of SEMLEP, said: “These universities are our very own ‘Magnificent Seven’. Local businesses can take advantage of the phenomenal wealth of knowledge in our universities. It’s time to start thinking big and thinking collaboratively.”

Delegates learnt how best to connect and extract value from knowledge transfer opportunities and about new funding opportunities, innovation, collaboration, entrepreneurship and growth.

Professor Sir Peter Gregson of Cranfield University said: “We are a specialist university with a very distinctive remit. We transform people and organisations. We create leaders in technology and management.”

The event also saw the unveiling of the new ‘Universities Mean Business’ prospectus, produced in partnership with SEMLEP, which sets out in clear and simple terms the offer that universities in the South East Midlands provide through their higher education, innovation and research activities.

Greg Clark, Minister for Universities, Science and Cities said: "The collaboration between these seven universities in the South East Midlands and local businesses is an excellent example of how to get the most from the UK’s education, innovation and research potential.

“This prospectus clearly sets out the exciting offer for local businesses and will help deliver long-term economic growth for the region."

Universities mean business
Universities mean business

Notes for editors

Collectively, the South East Midlands Universities (SEMU) generate a combined annual income exceeding £928 million (2012/13) through their higher education, innovation and research activities.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.