A new report published by Octopus Ventures provides insight into the commercial effectiveness of research in UK universities

The UK has a long history of producing world-class academic research, with the UK ranking third with the number of PhDs it produces (behind USA and Germany) and third in the publication of academic papers (behind USA and China). However, despite this strong position in academic research outputs, there is the opportunity for UK universities to do more. This report focuses on the potential UK universities have to capitalise on the research they produce through better commercialisation.

“The UK has produced a host of successful university spinouts, but there are many unrealised opportunities that have been left in labs or got lost on their funding journey. These could be worth trillions of pounds to the UK economy.”

THE REPORT

Research to Riches Report – Entrepreneurial Impact Ranking 2019 measures how successful UK universities are at converting research into spinout companies.

view report

What is Entrepreneurial Impact Ranking?

The report uses the Entrepreneurial Impact Ranking, an index of the universities that are leading the way in creating and commercialising spinouts.  It measures UK universities’ effectiveness in terms of their production of intellectual property, creation of spinout companies and successful exits from such spinout companies, relative to their total funding.

With UK Government funding and policy, such as the Industrial Strategy, placing emphasis on academic entrepreneurialism as a driver of economic growth, the Entrepreneurial Impact Ranking aims to bring all key stakeholders together for the UK economy to reap the benefits of its academic excellence.

Benefits of commercialisation – the US model

The report references the success of creating commercial value from academic research in the US as an example of the opportunities that UK could benefit from:

  • Research by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been the genesis for some 26,000 companies.
  • With a combined annual company turnover of US$2 trillion.
  • In nominal terms, that represents 65% of UK annual GDP from just one university.
  • Created 3.3 million jobs.

Key findings

  • Queen’s University Belfast has been found to be the most effective in terms of its production of spinout companies and successful exits, relative to the total funding received. The University of Cambridge and Cardiff University came in at second and third place respectively.
  • Over the 9-year time period that data was collected for this ranking, academic outputs across the UK have grown. The University of Edinburgh (jumping from 54 to 31) and the University of Manchester (improving from 41 to 33) both improved their research outputs internationally, according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities.
  • Throughout the total 9-year period that the Entrepreneurial Impact Ranking spans, the UK’s universities produced a total of 38,248 disclosures and 9,526 patents.

Over the 9-year time period that data was collected for this ranking, academic outputs across the UK have grown. The University of Edinburgh (jumping from 54 to 31) and the University of Manchester (improving from 41 to 33) both improved their research outputs internationally, according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

What makes a successful spinout company?

  • Funding – Funding is essential for the proof of concept and prototyping phases. Universities that ranked highly in the index were ones that raised funds to help get ideas off the drawing board.
  • Talent – Getting the right people with the right set of skills on board is difficult, especially for new spinout companies that are regarded as high-risk propositions. The report also cited a lack of academic’s understanding of the business world as a barrier to success, highlighting the importance of university-industry collaboration.
  • Collaboration – Not only is university-industry collaboration important, but collaboration between universities was found to be a key factor of higher-ranking universities that created successful spinouts. In acknowledgement of the importance of collaboration, the UK Government launched the £100m Connecting Capability Fund to support university collaboration in research commercialisation. The University of Manchester (ranked 16) recently received £5 million from the fund.

      

RESEARCHconnect newsletter trial

Latest Funding News

At RESEARCHconnect, our team of content writers and researchers are sourcing intelligence all day, every day on new and changing funding and policy. To keep informed of the latest funding updates, check our public News Sample on weekly basis.

Need help funding your research project?

RESEARCHconnect provides information on thousands of funding opportunities dedicated to the research community. Focused on researchers at all levels of academia – from undergraduates to senior career researchers – and also including a spectrum of funding opportunities for universities and research institutes, the service offers a comprehensive one-stop shop of funding information.

RESEARCHconnect

Supporting you at every step of your funding journey