Leading Universities and Investors Launch Set of Recommendations for the Innovation Sector
The UK’s potential as a science super-power has been given a significant boost today with the launch of unique guidance that will accelerate and support the founding of a new generation of start-ups.
Leading investors and universities have come together to launch the USIT Guide which aims to put rocket boosters under the way that the Higher Education sector spins out new companies that take advantage of research breakthroughs.
Many of this country’s most successful technology firms – Solexa, Oxford Nanopore, ARM – started off life as spin-outs from a university, and the publication’s authors believe many more will now be forthcoming.
This is an area that the UK already excels in. London’s universities, for example, are more efficient in turning research and development expenditure into spinout companies than many others. They produce a spinout for every £35.35 million invested in research and development compared with £60.42 million, £42.6 million and £54.5 million for Boston, Los Angeles and New York, respectively.
Between them the group behind the new guidance – which includes venture capitalist firms Abingworth, Sofinnova and Cambridge Investment Capital, and universities Oxford, Imperial and UCL – has helped set up 376 new companies in the last five years, raising over £8.6 billion in investment.
But the USIT Guide’s backers believe it can build on this success and allow both universities and venture capitalists to ramp up the whole process of setting up spin-outs by providing direction and advice in such areas as equity share and IP. As it stands, many of these deals are created from scratch, which is both inefficient and sometimes fails to learn the lessons from previous success stories.
The publication, which is supported by TenU, a group of university technology transfer offices in the UK and US, including MIT, Stanford and Columbia, reflects successful practice around the world.
TenU provides an invaluable informal platform to understand how national governments, investors and the Universities can collaborate together more effectively to ensure that the fantastic research from our world-leading institutions can create positive social, economic, and environmental impact.
Diarmuid O’Brien, Chief Executive of Cambridge Enterprise and chair of the USIT Guide working group, said: “The USIT Guide can unlock the full potential from UK universities research, helping to create more spin-outs faster and attracting increased venture investment. USIT can support our universities create the companies that can contribute to solving the great challenges of our time, from climate to health and the digital revolution.”
Jessica Corner, the Executive Chair of Research England, which funded the initiative, said: “The USIT Guide has come out of the deep professionalism and commitment of UK tech transfer offices to collaboration: sharing approaches internationally, and working with others – particularly investors – to make our ecosystem more effective.”
Andrew Wilkinson, CEO of the University of Manchester Innovation Factory said: “TenU provides an invaluable informal platform to understand how national governments, investors and the Universities can collaborate together more effectively to ensure that the fantastic research from our world-leading institutions can create positive social, economic, and environmental impact. Having members from the UK, the USA and mainland Europe enables us to identify the differences and similarities between the approaches we all take to IP commercialisation and dispel some of the misunderstandings about the way things are done and challenges in different geographies.”
In the past three years, the University of Manchester Innovation Factory has helped UoM academics create 32 IP-rich spinouts (9 in 2019-20, 13 in 20-21, 10 in 21-22) and has generated licensing income of £13.85M from third party non-spinout licensees. In addition, £9.8M in first-time investment into UoM spinouts has been secured, helping to grow these Manchester-born spinouts.
Research from Manchester and other UK universities promises to be the engine room of the new economy. If universities partner effectively with business and government, these spinouts will generate significant wealth throughout the north of England, creating companies, employing people and raising productivity.
With a team of 44 and drawing on the research and expertise of the University’s academics and students, the Innovation Factory assesses and scopes research with IP potential and advises startups on critical legal, investment and asset management issues as they scale up.
A copy of The USIT Guide is available to download.