Lesser lights and stars both draw in cash

April 14, 2006

Areas near universities with high-rated departments attract substantial private-sector research and development investment, researchers have confirmed. But they also discovered the surprising fact that regions surrounding lower rated departments have a similar effect in some sectors.

A study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that private-sector labs were choosing sites near relevant departments rated highly in the research assessment exercise. But some lower-rated departments were also attracting clusters of foreign-owned labs.

A postcode area with a university chemistry department rated 5 or 5* was likely to have nearly twice as many labs undertaking R&D in pharmaceuticals as a postcode area with no 5 or 5* rated chemistry department. Those areas also attracted three times as many foreign-owned R&D labs as areas without a high-rated department, the study shows.

But in the machinery, electrical engineering and aerospace sectors, researchers found evidence that labs were selecting locations near departments rated 4 and below. Laura Abramovsky, research economist at the IFS and one of the authors of the study, said this could be because such departments were more commercially oriented.

The 2003 Lambert review of business-university links highlighted the role of business clusters around academic institutions in spurring innovation.

Ms Abramovsky said her study showed that such links existed and that foreign-owned labs were drawing on British knowledge.

Researchers used data from the Office for National Statistics to study where private-sector R&D establishments were sited and where new ones chose to locate. That information was compared with the location of university research departments to determine the location of R&D activity related to different product groups and to look at the number of foreign-owned establishments.

The researchers conclude: "Given that we find instances of co-location with both lower and high-rated university research departments, this suggests that firms may benefit both from proximity to frontier basic university research and from much more applied, commercially orientated public sector research activity."

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (8 September 2016)

Some lecturers will rightly encourage forms of student interaction that are impossible for those covering their faces, Eric Heinze argues

University of Oxford students walking on campus

University of Oxford snatches top spot from Caltech in this year’s World University Rankings as Asia’s rise continues

Handwritten essay on table

Universities must pay more attention to the difficulties faced by students, says Daniel Dennehy

Theresa May entering 10 Downing Street, London

The prospect of new grammar schools on the horizon raises big questions for HE, writes Nick Hillman

Nosey man outside window

Head of UK admissions service Mary Curnock Cook addresses concerns that universities might ‘not hear a word’ from applicants