A new enterprise and innovation programme will enable businesses and jobs to be created across the Eastern region, it has been announced.

This agreement signals the faith we have in the Eastern region to deliver economic growth from our exceptionally strong science and technology base.

Dr Paul May

The four year ideaSpace Enterprise Accelerator (iEA) programme will support the identification and accelerated development of high potential business ventures arising from research conducted across the region.

The University of Cambridge's IfM Education Consultancy Services Limited (IfM-ECS) has been chosen by East of England Development Agency (EEDA) to lead the initiative.

Under the agreement, iEA will assist the region's enterprise communities to start and grow new research- and innovation-led businesses, as well as providing strategic direction for the region's technology enterprise and entrepreneurship activities. Early-stage and start-up firms will gain support and training to help them grow and create new jobs.

Based in the Hauser Forum on the West Cambridge campus, the programme will develop the existing University of Cambridge ideaSpace initiative. iEA will build on the results already achieved in ideaSpace's first 18 months of operation. In that short time it has enabled over 1,000 training opportunities and is currently supporting 55 members, running 34 ventures from its offices in the Hauser Forum.

iEA will focus its proactive opportunity identification activities on EEDA's key programme areas, including life sciences and healthcare, ICT, advanced manufacturing/engineering and low carbon innovation. It will build an 'enterprise community' by cooperating with the region's universities' research departments and technology transfer offices, existing innovation and business resources, and Enterprise Hubs.

Dr Paul May, EEDA's Executive director of Innovation, said the new expanded programme was good news for the region's economy.

"We have been seeking a strong partner to help guide the iEA programme's development going forward.

"We believe that IfM ECS' experience of delivering business support programmes, and its understanding of SMEs and early-stage and start-up firms, makes it is the best organisation to do this."

Dr May said IfM-ECS had a number of powerful tools and resources which could help research- and innovation-led enterprises.

"This agreement signals the faith we have in the Eastern region to deliver economic growth from our exceptionally strong science and technology base."

Peter Templeton, IfM-ECS Chief Executive, said he was delighted to have partnered with EEDA on the iEA initiative:

"The extended programme enables us to play a clear and distinctive role in the innovation eco-system.

"It will enable new businesses and jobs to be created; existing jobs to be safeguarded; and will help to attract new businesses to the region.

"We will be able to provide access to the latest research on technology and innovation management, and the emergence of new industries.

"The agreement means we will also be appointing an External Relations Director to help develop cooperation between the region's enterprise communities."

Mr Templeton said IfM-ECS would be able to draw on its experience of working with more than 500 small and medium sized businesses.

ideaSpace Director, Stewart McTavish welcomed the new arrangements: "We've already achieved a lot in a very short space of time, and this new arrangement builds on this positive start.

"The new programme will allow us to create a meaningful enterprise community between the region's universities' research departments, enterprise and innovation support networks.

"Above all, we should be able to accelerate the development of new high growth ventures in the Eastern region, building on our world leading science and technology strengths as well as the passion and drive of our entrepreneurs."

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