New research shows stronger links between universities and business

UK universities are establishing stronger commercial links with the business sector, according to new research published today.

The Higher Education Business Interaction Survey shows that higher education institutions (HEIs) are involved in more spin-off companies and have an increasing role in economic development.

The main findings show that there were 199 spin-off firms in 1999/2000, compared to 338 in the previous five years and that the proportion of HEI research income from business was 12.3 per cent in 1999/2000, up from 10.9 per cent in 1995/6.

The survey also found that the total patents filed increased by 22 per cent from 1,259 in 1998/9 to 1,534 in 1999/2000.

By comparison with North America, in 1999/2000, UK universities identified one spin-off firm for every £8.6m of research expenditure, Canadian universities in 1999 spun off one firm for every £13.9m, while in the US the ratio was one for every £53.1m.

‘These figures seem to confound the received wisdom that UK higher education institutions are much less entrepreneurial than their North American counterparts,’ said Science Minister Lord Sainsbury.

Although the survey identifies a ‘significant increase’ in the number of spin-off firms formed, comparisons with North America should be treated with caution because it is not yet known how well the companies are faring in the market.

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