Falmouth University has announced that it will receive a £12 million investment from the European Regional Development Fund and local partners for its groundbreaking postgraduate business incubation programme, Launchpad.
The two-year programme is designed to foster the creation of start-up businesses in Cornwall, creating high-value jobs, attracting investment and growing the digital and technology sector in the county.
The UK Government has given the go ahead to the project and has committed to funding even after Britain leaves the EU.
The first cohort of students will be recruited by May 2017.
After a successful pilot programme, the university predicts that Launchpad will deliver 128 jobs and 32 high-growth, knowledge based sectors companies in the first three years – based across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – increasing to 526 jobs by 2023.
Launchpad works by reversing the traditional model of start-up business support; instead of starting with an entrepreneur and their idea, Launchpad begins with a market gaps identified by industry.
During the pilot phase, industry partners including Sony and Amazon worked with Launchpad graduates to set up high-growth start-ups built to market opportunities.
Professor Anne Carlisle, vice-chancellor and chief executive of Falmouth University, director of the Falmouth Business School and founder of Launchpad, said: “Launchpad has the potential to transform the economy of Cornwall. Creating jobs and businesses in high-growth sectors will provide a pipeline of talent, helping the county become a hub of creativity and innovation.”
Nearly £10 million is coming from the ERDF, Cornwall Council has provided £2 million of the total investment to help the county achieve its economic growth targets and Falmouth University is also contributing £500k.
Cornwall Council portfolio holder for economy and culture, Julian German, added: “Cornwall’s technology infrastructure, creative capital and pool of talent means that we are in the right place to capitalise on the digital economy – a sector that’s worth £118 billion to the UK economy, and a sector that’s growing. Launchpad will be a key element in our efforts to grow the digital industry in Cornwall.”