New report: University spinouts – an imperfect ecosystem

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The start of April 2018 marked the official launch of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), an amalgamation of the seven research councils, Innovate UK and Research England. With this, UK universities’ ability to turn research into innovation is once again under the spotlight.

This is an important issue. After all, some highly successful companies can trace their origins to UK university research. However, nobody has really scrutinised the way the system works before. We felt the time was ripe for that to change, especially with the government’s industrial strategy recognising the need for a benchmark of how well universities commercialise the results of their research.

So, a few months ago, Anderson Law commissioned research into the relationship between the sources of funding for academic research, and successful commercialisation of the research. The attached report summarises the results of that work – see the link at the end of this article.

We think the findings offer real food for thought. Overall, it’s a positive picture. Spinouts from UK universities are thriving; nine out of ten spinouts which have received private investment between 2011 and 2015 have survived. Among start-ups on the whole, only two in ten survive beyond their fifth year.

We also found that the number of spinouts from UK universities is on the increase and, with this, so is the amount of investment into them from private investors. But we believe more should be done.

As UKRI begins its work, we expect that the commercialisation of research from UK universities will be a priority. We also think the government has a role to play too, giving universities a clear policy steer on their role as innovators, as part of a national strategy for the commercialisation of research from UK universities.

I hope you find the report interesting. If you would like to discuss the findings further, please feel free to get in touch.

Anderson Law University Spinouts report – April 2018