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. A report summarising the results of this work can be found here.

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.