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17 November 2017

Southampton logs onto $1.3m fund

The university has partnered regional business advocate Solent LEP to launch an accelerator fund aimed at generating 16 internet-focused spinouts by March 2019.

Author: Callum Cyrus, reporter

University of Southampton is aiming for 16 internet-focused spinouts by March 2019 under a £1m ($1.3m) Z21 Innovation Fund accelerator partnership with business network Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) launched on Wednesday.

Z21 Innovation Fund aims to spur rapid technology-sector investment in the Solent region, an area of southern England containing Portsmouth and Southampton. The stakeholders hope the fund will create 40 new jobs in Solent by March 2021.

Solent LEP has equipped the initiative with £500,000 to be matched by the university, which will support Z21 services through its Web Science Institute (WSI) unit.

Investees initially receive up to £6,300 over three months to demo website features and collect feedback from early clients. A panel will then consider whether the demo merits pre-seed funding of up to £31,500.

Z21 Innovation Fund offers facilities and expertise as well as mentorship from the University of Southampton community. It will link with the university’s Future Worlds incubator for matters such as networking and promotion.

The fund has disclosed two university projects currently receiving support from the program ­– Aura Vision Labs, a video analytics project founded by two PhD students, and Web Observatory, which is developing an e-commerce site for datasets and analytics.

Dame Wendy Hall, executive director of WSI and professor in computer science, said: “The Z21 Innovation Fund represents a unique and exciting relationship between the Solent LEP and University of Southampton that will drive innovation into the real world.”

Anne-Marie Mountifield, chief executive of Solent LEP, added: “The Solent economy has seen the emergence of new ideas and innovation in the past few years which has underpinned the growth of the Solent economy as a whole.

“The Solent LEP is delighted to be working in a new ground-breaking collaboration with University of Southampton and our £500,000 Z21 fund delivered in partnership with WSI will create our next generation of innovative university spinouts.”

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