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state aid in higher education

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State aid rules are highly complex and carry significant risk for both providers and recipients, so it is critical for higher education institutions (HEIs) to ensure they remain fully compliant.

Our dedicated state aid team can help your university identify, assess and solve state aid issues in a range of projects, from grant funding applications and research and development (R&D) collaborations to student accommodation projects. We pride ourselves on our ability to provide clear and concise advice and identify practical and commercial solutions for our HEI clients.

What we offer

  • Supporting HEIs’ applications for external funding with state aid advice and advising funding bodies, including local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) and central government bodies and departments
  • Advising on state aid in R&D collaboration projects, including joint R&D, research infrastructure and contract research
  • Assisting HEIs in structuring their projects to comply with existing exemptions such as innovation clusters and research infrastructures
  • Advising on the inclusion of appropriate contractual terms in relevant contractual documents such as grant funding agreements, loan facilities, collaboration agreements and development agreements
  • Enabling HEIs to establish, support and develop spin-outs in compliance with state aid rules
  • Drafting internal guidance and governance documents to assist with state aid compliance
  • Supporting HEIs subject to funding compliance audits
  • Advising on all aspects of state aid law, including exemptions, approved schemes, notification and challenges.
  • Delivering bespoke and practical training on state aid at all levels.

Why choose Browne Jacobson higher education lawyers?

We have a specialist team providing advice on all aspects of state aid for higher education institutions. For more information please contact Alex Kynoch.

recent experience

  • Advising Loughborough University’s Growing Rehabilitation Industries Project (GRIP) - a consortium of higher education institutions and private sector stakeholders aimed at establishing the UK as a market leader on rehabilitation products for the armed forces and civilians.

  • Advising a north west university on its proposal to expand the operation of its Productivity and Innovation Centre which supports SMEs, in particular compliance with current EU state aid rules.

  • Advising Keele University on state aid compliance in respect of its market leading Smart Energy Network Demonstrator.

  • Assisting a West Midlands university in ensuring its approach to establishing and supporting spin-out companies is state aid compliant.


focus on...

State aid and IP in R&D agreements - hear from our panel of experts

In this webinar, Selina Hinchliffe, Alex Kynoch, Nick Smee and Helen Jones hold a panel discussion covering some of the key state aid concepts and how this impacts ownership and licensing of intellectual property, both from a commercial partner, public body and university perspective.

what the directories say...



The team is noted for expertise in advisory and transactional procurement matters and their intersection with state aid rules...

Chambers 2020


Browne Jacobson LLP impresses with its ‘excellent service level’ and is known for its expertise in the areas of planning and commercial law, in particular State aid and procurement...

Legal 500 2018

what our clients say....



Browne Jacobson’s support to some of our more complex Research and Enterprise projects has been particularly helpful when navigating the labyrinth of State Aid. Clear and timely reports on how to minimise the risk to the University and partners have made decision making for senior managers a great deal more straightforward.

Sam McGinty, Head of Legal Services, Loughborough University


We recently sought the advice of Browne Jacobson relating to a large scheme and the compliance with State aid regulations. Both quickly and efficiently Browne Jacobson were able to understand the complicated nature of the proposed scheme and they provided excellent knowledge of this specialised area of law and sensible solutions to assist. Their service levels were excellent, and they were always on hand.



Easily the best explanation of State aid rules that I’ve ever read.

focus on...

Ask the experts: managing people and health and safety matters during a pandemic

Human resource teams in higher education institutions continue to deal with the challenges brought about by coronavirus. In this on-demand video, our experts help you at this critical time to answer the questions that really matter to you.

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Legal updates

be connected newsletter for higher education - October 2020

In this edition we provide you with the latest in legal updates, news and insight from the higher education sector.

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Legal updates

The Electronic Communications Code – Is the tide turning in favour of landowners?

Mention telecoms masts to most estate teams and you will immediately see that they are not their favourite topic and recently negotiations have been made more difficult by virtue of the rights the telecoms providers have under the new Electronic Communications Code.

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Legal updates

Could your new Covid-19 related intellectual property (IP) be commandeered by the Crown?

Universities across the nation have been working valiantly to produce a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, otherwise known as Covid-19, in addition to working tirelessly on new testing options. It is easy in these times to forget that universities may still own valuable intellectual property (IP) created in these efforts.

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