Universities are being invited to bid for a share of a £15m scheme to encourage students to create the Yahoos and Microsofts of the future.
A competition will be held in the new year to select three or four pilot university enterprise zones, which will be used to build business space for new hi-tech companies, allowing them to pass on their expertise to the universities.
Launching the scheme, Prime Minister David Cameron said it would boost the economy by giving universities the tools to "be even better at cultivating the seeds of growth as well as knowledge".
Cameron said: "As part of our long-term plan to help secure Britain's economic future, I want to see higher education and enterprise work hand in glove to boost growth and create even more jobs.
"Our world-leading universities have historically been at the heart of innovation but we need to give them the tools to be even better at cultivating the seeds of growth as well as knowledge.
"University enterprise zones will unlock the potential of so many students who will be able to move into affordable business space and start to build their own business straight after their degree.
"I want to see university enterprise zones help create the next Yahoo or the next Microsoft - bringing jobs and prosperity to both the local and wider economy and helping us succeed in the global race."
Steve Radley, director of policy at EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, said: "Piloting university enterprise zones to make it easier for small companies and start-ups to work with universities is a great idea.
"Many smaller firms already work with universities to overcome barriers to innovation such as a lack of access to equipment, expertise and facilities, but this is not always straightforward."