Plymouth University has become the first higher education institution in the country to receive a national innovation accreditation in recognition of its support for small and medium-sized businesses in Devon and Cornwall.
The university has been given the Investor in Innovations Award for its management of the three Innovation Centres in Cornwall, which are now home to more than 110 innovative high-growth businesses, and which since their launch in 2011, have helped create more than 200 jobs.
Awarded by NEF: The Innovation Institute, the accreditation also covers the university’s Formation Zone incubation centres on campus and in Cornwall.
During the accreditation process, members of NEF visited both the Plymouth campus and the Tremough Innovation Centre in Penryn and spoke with managers and staff about the work being done at Pool, Tremough and the Health and Wellbeing facility in Truro. Businesses from the centres were also present to offer their perspective.
NEF singled out a number of areas, including the entrepreneurial experience of the centre managers, the focus and support for client businesses, particularly young entrepreneurs, and the use of things like business competitions and entrepreneurs-in-residence.
Bernard Curren, director of Cornwall Innovation, said: “Since we launched our first Formation Zone in 2008, we’ve been on a journey, a learning curve that has resulted in the creation of an incubation, innovation and acceleration model that supports business development, through expert advice, opportunities to network and access to investment.
“It’s a model that we believe could be used in other areas of the country to stimulate innovation and economic growth.”