A NATIONAL survey of the ways in which universities use their knowledge to benefit the world around them has ranked the University of Nottingham among the best in the UK.
The Higher Education Business and Community Interaction Survey (HE-BCI) is an in-depth study carried out by Research England, part of UK Research and Innovation, which helps drive the development of knowledge and ideas across universities, businesses, charities and government.
HE-BCI examines the commercial activities of universities, ranging from the use of knowledge to help companies solve problems and investment in promising research projects to supporting the formation of spin-out businesses.
In the latest HE-BCI survey, the University of Nottingham is ranked second in the UK for the amount of money it raised from the sale of shares in its spin-outs, with more than £11.5m returned to the University in 2017-18 for further investment.
Spin-out successes included early-stage cancer detection company Oncimmune plc, where £5m was raised through the sale of shares, and drug screening services provider CrownBioInc., where the sale of the University’s stake raised £3.6m.
Both companies follow in the footsteps of University spin-out Monica Healthcare, which developed a lifesaving foetal heart monitor that was acquired by industry giant GE Healthcare.
The University was also ranked seventh in the country for the amount of external investment received by its spin-out businesses, with £34m of funding secured to support their growth.
Making a difference
Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange at the University, said: “The HE-BCI survey is an important measure of the way that universities contribute to the world around them and we’re thrilled to have been ranked so highly.
“For us, this activity is about supporting and investing in businesses that can make a difference to people’s lives and, in doing so, secure a return that can provide continuing support for our core missions of teaching, learning and research.
“That is reflected in the nature of our portfolio of spin-out businesses, whose ideas and technologies address some of the key challenges we face both as healthy individuals and a healthy society.”
The success in the HE-BCI survey came during a year in which the University further bolstered its credentials as a key centre for research commercialisation in the Midlands through Nottingham Technology Ventures Ltd – set up by the University to further professionalise the management of its spin-out portfolio.
It also set up its own £5m Invention Fund to provide targeted backing to spin-outs as they develop. Its support also helps them as they seek co-investment.
The University’s spin-out portfolio includes businesses developing new technologies and solutions for agriculture and the environment, energy sustainability, healthcare, manufacturing and materials.
Culture of enterprise
Dr Susan Huxtable, Director of Intellectual Property Commercialisation, added: “As a University, we strongly encourage a culture of enterprise and innovation across our academic community.
“This underpins all successful knowledge exchange and reflects the University’s long-term commitment to developing research potential into outcomes which benefit society and the economy.”
The University provides a wide-ranging portfolio of services aimed at supporting businesses. It includes student placements, collaboration projects with businesses, research institutes dedicated to developing new technologies, and working with key sectors of the regional and national economy.