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£2 Million European Fund for Midlands technology entrepreneurs launched

Originally Published - 10 May 2000

The £2 million Mercia Enterprise Fund for Midlands technology entrepreneurs is launched today Monday 8 May by the Universities of Birmingham and Warwick.

The Mercia Enterprise Fund, a "seed capital" fund which will run in conjunction with the existing Mercia Technology Fund comes from the two university's success in winning money for the region from the Government's University Challenge initiative, backed by a further grant from the European Regional Development Fund.

The two Mercia funds will provide early-stage finance to bridge the gap between successful research projects and viable business opportunities. They will help to transform new technology into successful business by funding new ventures up to the point at which they can obtain more conventional finance, such as venture capital or industry investment.

The Mercia Enterprise Fund will invest in new start-up companies based on successful research results or other innovative technology, and in SMEs seeking to use such technology as a means of expanding their range of products or processes. Such companies must be located within the West Midlands Objective 2 Area, and a key requirements is that the investment should lead to job creation or other contribution to local economic development. The £2m Mercia Enterprise Fund will be making investments in the range £100k to £150k, up to a maximum of £250k. West Midlands Enterprise is the Fund Manager for both funds.

Applications to the Mercia Enterprise Fund may be made by individual entrepreneurs and SMEs as well as by research institutions, but it is envisaged that much of the innovative technology which leads to investment by the Fund in small companies will originate from research in the eight West Midlands universities. It is also envisaged that many new start-up companies will be located at the Science/Research Parks associated with the universities, thus increasing the extent and benefits of 'technology clusters'. In particular, the sponsoring Universities of Birmingham and Warwick believe that it will enable them to enhance their contribution to entrepreneurial activity and consequent economic benefits in the West Midlands region.

Note for Editors:

Both the Mercia Technology Fund and the new Mercia Enterprise Fund arose from a successful bid by the Universities of Birmingham and Warwick to the 1999 University Challenge competition 1999. This allocated £3m from Government and Wellcome Trust for seed capital funds to be set up by the Universities. The Universities established The Mercia Fund Limited Partnership to administer the Funds, and the £2m Mercia Technology Fund was launched in November 1999. The new £2m Mercia Enterprise Fund has been made possible by the further award of £600k from the European Regional Development Fund.

Further information about the above press release and all other media services at the University of Warwick can be obtained from:

Peter Dunn, Press Officer
Public Affairs Office
Senate House
University of Warwick
Coventry, CV4 7AL
West Midlands
Tel: 024 76 523708
Email: puapjd@admin.warwick.ac.uk