The University of Hertfordshire has secured £1.1m to set up a new University Enterprise Zone to support start-up and small businesses, to increase economic growth, employment, and investment in the county.

The Enterprise Zone will offer companies across the county access to new specialist workspaces, equipment and resources and encourage the development of talent through apprenticeships and student placements. A network of academics, supported by our world-leading research, will enable businesses to grow and prosper.

Julie Newlan, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Business and International Development at the University of Hertfordshire, commented:“This initiative gives the University the opportunity to support many more small businesses and start-ups in the Hertfordshire region, extending the work of our existing enterprise programmes, such as our Business Incubator. Stimulating the growth of small businesses will help drive economic development, turnover and employment in Hertfordshire, leading to greater long-term investment in the region.”

Abigail Martin, Chief Executive Officer of ImmuONE, commented:“The University of Hertfordshire has played a huge part in the development and commercialisation of my research. They have inspired me to look beyond the realms of academia and to be enterprising and industry driven; the success I have had has been really rewarding.”

“My PhD research project led to the development of a 3D model human lung that can be grown in a laboratory.The technology allows for the respiratory testing of any sort of chemical or particles that we might inhale. Scientists and researchers can use the test results to measure the extent of the damage that these substances can cause and determine the concentration that might be considered safe.”

“I was accepted into Innovate UK’s Innovation of Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe) programme for the South England region with the support of my PhD supervisor Dr Victoria Hutter. During the programme you are given support to determine the value proposition of your technology and advice on how to network with people. I went on to make connections across four continents, where I was able to speak to key contacts within life sciences and pharmaceutical markets. The opportunity to do this was invaluable in letting me evaluate my technology and how it might be used.”

“Following the programme, I delivered a pitch to Innovate UK and I was invited to attend another business bootcamp, where I learnt how to move past market validation and how to write a business plan and raise capital.”

“As I worked towards completing my PhD, I was successful in securing further investment and funding from Innovate UK with the help of my PhD supervisor, Dr Hutter, and the University of Hertfordshire’s Business Development team. This meant that we were able to launch our spin-out company ImmuONE. This isn’t something I would have been able to do, especially so quickly, had I not taken part in the ICURe programme. It enabled me to build on my entrepreneurial skills and in fact, I was being approached with job opportunities almost weekly from people that I met at various conferences and events.”

Being a member of the University of Hertfordshire’s Business Incubator gives companies access to hundreds of academic experts and their research, as well as seminars, mentors, networking events, business directories and marketing through the university’s website.

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The £1.1m fund for the new University of Hertfordshire Enterprise Zone is part of a wider £20 million investment announced by the Government for 20 universities across the country for the development of new University Enterprise Zones.