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Imperial wins 2 million to establish Science Enterprise centre

Sue Birley, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Imperial College, will lead the Colleges bid to become a world class centre for fostering commercialisation of scientific research and the teaching of enterprise in both undergraduate and postgraduate courses. The College was announced today as a £2 million winner of one of eight new Science Enterprise Challenge awards from the DTI.

A main board director of NatWest Bank, Sue Birley has over 25 years experience in enterprise training. "This award will enable us to broaden the entrepreneurial culture at IC, not only amongst staff but also students - undergraduate and postgraduate. I believe the creation, and sharing, of intellectual property to be the core role of a university - its prime asset. Managing it for commercial profit is a serious future challenge", she maintains.

Professor Birley currently runs the MBA Entrepreneurship and Innovation Specialisation in the Imperial College Management School. Plans for the Science Enterprise Centre, to be based at the School, include the formation of a science entrepreneurs network. Prominent science entrepreneurs, including College alumnus, Dr Chris Evans, will serve on the advisory board. The Centre will offer computer access to relevant information networks, business planning packages, information on patents and intellectual property as well as an entrepreneurship library.

"We are delighted to be a winner. The College has been at the forefront of technology exploitation for 10 years, and is committed to maintaining its role in innovative partnerships with industry and government and maximising the potential for UK plc", says Lord Oxburgh, Rector.

As evidence of success in the commercialisation of research at the College, nine new spin-out companies have been created in the first six months of the 1998-99 financial year. Imperial made 20 international patent applications (PCT) in 1997, the highest number in a UK university, placing it in the top 20 universities in the world. Professor Birley is on the board of the Colleges wholly owned technology transfer company, IC Innovations Ltd, IC Company Maker as well as IC spin-out, Process Systems Engineering Ltd.

Professor Bill Wakeham, Deputy Rector and Pro Rector Research, estimates that around 750 staff are now employed in 37 companies that originated from technologies developed at the College. "We hold an equity stake in 10 of these companies. Although most are very recently formed, the holdings are conservatively valued at £5 million", he says.

"Winning this Science Enterprise Challenge means we will be able to provide all Imperials students with a support system to explore and develop entrepreneurial skills. Based in the Management School, the new Science Enterprise Centre will allow students to test the viability of scientific ideas, either as new products or new businesses, and even to launch a business. Its the final piece of the jigsaw", says School Director, Professor David Norburn.


For more information please contact:

Professor Sue Birley, Management School, Imperial College
53 Princes Gate, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2PG
Telephone: +44 020 7594 9103 Fax: +44 020 7594 9204


Notes to editors

1. Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine is the largest applied science and technology university in the UK, with the largest annual turnover (£310 million in 1997-98) and the largest research income (£210 million in 1997-98). It is consistently rated in the top three UK university institutions for research quality, with an aggregate score of 6.09 out of 7 in the 1996 Research Assessment Exercise.

2. Sue Birley FRSS is Professor of Entrepreneurship and Director of Research at the Imperial College ManageManagement School. A main board director of NatWest Bank, she is alsoa member of the DTI Foresight Steering Group and director of Imperial College Innovations Ltd, the Colleges wholly owned technology transfer company. Photo available from the Press Office. Contact Anna Rawlinson, telephone 020 7594 6709.

3. The Management School was founded in 1987 with a mission to work on the interface between management, technology and entrepreneurship. It is already ranked in the top 30 in the world, and second in the UK (Financial Times, 25.1.99). The MBA programme, launched in 1989, offers a 120-hour specialisation in entrepreneurship and innovation.

4. The winners of the Science Enterprise Challenge were announced today by the Science Minister, Lord Sainsbury. 28 entries were received at the first stage of the competition which was launched on 11 February 1999.