The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Technology Strategy Board, together with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), are seeking bids from leading UK universities who wish to host two new Innovation and Knowledge Centres (IKCs). The IKCs will promote the early commercialisation of world class research, by combining within a single integrated centre the best research with the best business development, market analysis, and commercialisation skills and partnerships to accelerate its exploitation.

Aimed at providing a major boost to the early commercial exploitation of emerging technologies, the new centres will each receive financial support of around £9.5 M, spread over five years. The EPSRC (together with the BBSRC where appropriate) and the Technology Strategy Board will contribute £7 M and £2.5 M respectively, with further funding coming from universities, industry and other sponsors.

The new initiative follows the establishment of two pilot IKCs by EPSRC in November 2005—one at Cambridge University in Advanced Manufacturing Technologies for Photonics and Electronics, and one at the Optic Technium Centre in North Wales in Ultra Precision and Structured Surfaces, involving Cranfield, UCL and Cambridge universities.

Universities that express an interest in hosting one of the new centres will enter into a thorough assessment and selection process with a decision anticipated in September 2008. The IKCs will provide support for five years of intensive early stage development and commercialisation, which will bring technologies close to market.