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Spin-outs UK Limited

Posted on May 13, 2013 by Sandy Finlayson  |

I was very interested to read the recent press release about Spin-outs UK – the first detailed research report published into university spin-out activity across the UK.  The report has been compiled by Jonathan Harris, the publisher of Young Company Finance and it reviews the performance of 50 higher education institutions across the UK for the past ten years.  The report tracks 820 companies with no fewer than 41% in life sciences, and 27% in information technology, surprisingly only 5% are in cleantech and the remainder are in a variety of different disciplines.  Remarkably few of the companies have failed with 73% still trading after five years and although only about 10% have gone to exit, half of them generated a total of no less than £3 Billion for their shareholders.

It would be interesting to know how many people are employed by these companies, the value of their export sales and the amount they contribute to the UK economy.  That level of detail may be available to those who have subscribed for the report.  However, the figures which have been made publicly available show that the commercialisation of technologies from our higher education institutions is making a significant difference to our economy.

There are of course significant regional variations with Imperial College, and Oxbridge consistently among the best performers.  Edinburgh has come out third after Imperial and Oxford on top for the past three years during which Scotland has been the best performing region.

Not surprisingly, there has been slight decline in the rate of company formation over the past three years since the banking crash.  However, there is increasing awareness that substantially all net new employment comes from the enterprise economy and in particular from high growth companies.  This report provides much food for thought and will provide valuable pointers about what can be done to improve the rate of commercialisation.

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