STUDENTS and researchers from the University of Southampton are jetting off to California’s Silicon Valley to forge connections in the world’s top region for start-up businesses and innovation.

The group of aspiring entrepreneurs will visit the headquarters of Apple and Google as well as taking in sights such as San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

The party of around 15 comes from Future Worlds, the university’s “start-up accelerator” at its Highfield Campus, which nurtures entrepreneurs and cutting-edge technology.

Ben Clark, director of Future Worlds, said the university had a reputation for start-up innovation and had already exported talent to Silicon Valley.

“You might be eating beans on toast one day and launching a start-up that can be generating millions of pounds remarkably quickly,” he said.

The aim of the latest trip is for the founders to experience the mindset and culture of the region and meet with investors, mentors and other start-ups in San Francisco’s Bay Area.

Mr Clark said Future Worlds existed to help everyone from undergraduate students to professors with turning their research and innovations into start-up businesses.

“It’s to launch tech start-ups that are coming from university research, student ideas and many different things drawing on the depth and strength of engineering and tech here at the university,” he said.

Four students from Future Worlds have previously gone to work with separate start-ups in Silicon Valley – two of them at Y Combinator, the start-up accelerator which produced such famous names as Dropbox and Airbnb, and two at Skydeck, the accelerator at the University of California, Berkeley.

“Many will go to London or Silicon Valley and will be based there and embed themselves in the eco-system which we also support,” said Mr Clark.

“Maybe that’s a loss locally but it’s a great gain in the reputation of the university being seen as a hotbed of tech start-ups.”

Future Worlds recently held a Demo Day at the university’s Cube venue, where five groups pitched their ideas to a network of mentors, investors and industry specialists.

The start-ups from last year’s Demo Day have raised more than £2.5million in equity and grant funding.

Mr Clark said: “As every start-up knows, momentum is key; Future Worlds helps propel Southampton start-ups on their global journeys. There are so many more success stories to come, which together build Southampton into a powerhouse for tech start-ups which will have a lasting impact on the university, the city and the world.”