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    Posted 28 June 2004

    Harper Adams University College has won £1,437,000 from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to develop its work with rural businesses. The cash injection, which has been awarded from the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF), will be spread over two years, and includes extensions to existing projects as well as new initiatives.

    The award has been won in competition with all other universities in England, and among the 30 or so specialist institutions known as University Colleges and HE Colleges Harper Adams has the highest overall award in the country.

    Eric Howell, Head of Business Services, who developed the College’s successful bid, said: “The award is great news for Harper Adams and shows how our staff are working at the leading edge of innovation in the rural economy. The award is based around the successful research and reach-out work carried out within the Centre for Rural Innovation at the College (see Through business clubs and other initiatives the Centre encourages rural entrepreneurship, promotes innovation for sustainable farming, and supports the growth of sustainable technologies and the improvement of food chain safety.”

    The HEIF funding will allow the University College to expand the successful Women in Rural Enterprise business club (WiRE), which supports rural businesswomen, and has more than 1,500 members across the UK. WiRE will strengthen services to members and will appoint a new development officer in the South and East of England. Three new staff posts for WiRE will be based at Harper Adams. The club is growing very quickly, and already has County Officers in Warwickshire, Hereford and Worcester, Staffordshire, Yorkshire and Shropshire.

    Another successful project receiving a further two years funding is the Convalescent and Recuperative Environment business club (CaRE). CaRE is bringing together the growing number of rural B&Bs and other residential businesses which are skilled and interested in providing a wide range of health and respite care services. Business Club manager, Debbie Wilcox said “The project has got off to a really good start in the West Midlands region, and this extra funding will allow us to develop the concept and grow membership across the UK. We have had a lot of interest from urban local authorities who need good facilities to support their work in health and social care.”

    A new project will also be developed, which aims to expand the uptake of sustainable technologies for energy production and waste management. Dr Keith Chaney, the project leader said: “Harper Adams will be able to evaluate technologies such as combined heat and power generation which may be taken up by landowners and other rural investors. In particular the project aims to support local manufacturers in demonstrating and promoting new equipment. With concerns mounting about pollution and global warming, rural areas have a lot to offer in providing greener, safer energy supplies, and this can go hand-in-hand with creating new local jobs.”

    The overall £1.4m award also includes collaborations with Warwick University and the University of Central England to promote entrepreneurship in the West Midlands, and to provide consultancy support to existing regional businesses.

    Note to Editors

    Further details and contacts:

    Eric Howell. Tel 01952 815281

    • UK-wide university bids to the Higher Education Innovation Fund round 2 (HEIF 2) were submitted in February,

    • Funding will commence August 2004 until July 2006

    • The Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) supports higher education institutions (HEIs) in knowledge transfer to, and interactions with, business and the wider community, for the benefit of the economy and society. It consolidates the third stream of funding initiated by the Higher Education Reach-out to Business and the Community fund (HEROBC).

    • Funding for the second round of the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF 2) was announced following the Government's 2003 White Paper, 'The future of higher education'. It continues and develops the work of the first round of HEIF, supporting interactions between higher education institutions (HEIs) and business, and between HEIs and the wider community. HEIF 2 also incorporates future activities based on current Science Enterprise Challenge and University Challenge initiatives in England. HEIF 2 therefore represents a consolidated third stream of funding, complementing core funding to institutions for research, and for learning and teaching.

    • HEIF 2 has been established as a partnership between the Department of Trade and Industry/Office of Science and Technology (DTI/OST), HEFCE, and the Department for Education and Skills (DfES). • A total of £187 million will be available over the two years 2004-05 and 2005-06. This includes £46 million of additional resources from DTI/OST and DfES, above the levels implied by the combined spending of the two departments on this activity in 2003-04.

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