Technology transfer in UK universities 'thriving' despite fall in spinout activity

November 14, 2003

Brussels, 13 Nov 2003

Universities in the UK are strengthening their capacity to commercialise intellectual property, according to the second annual survey on university technology transfer activity, published on 13 November.

The survey, conducted by Nottingham University business school (NUBS), the university companies association (UNICO), and the association for university research and industry links (AURIL), reveals significant growth in the number of technology transfer staff, patents granted, and licences executed at 125 of the UK's higher education institutes.

However, the report also reveals that the number of spinout companies created in 2002 was 158, down from 175 in 2001, although Professor Mike Wright from the NUBS survey team is not particularly worried by this trend. 'The survey suggests that universities are learning what works and what does not work. These developments reflect the growing recognition of wealth creation from technology transfer, rather than the creation of spinouts and licenses per se.'

Overall, the survey identified a 24 per cent increase in full time employees engaged in technology transfer related activities, equivalent to six employees per university. Some 2,238 inventions were disclosed in 2002, 19 per cent more than in 2001, and the number of patents issued shot up by 59 per cent to 347. Of the 648 licences executed in 2002, 635 of them were responsible for generating an income of 32 million euro, an increase of 21 per cent on last year.

When compared with data from the US and Canada, and after adjusting the figures to account for differences in GDP and research expenditure between the three countries, it is revealed that UK universities still create more spinout companies that US and Canadian institutions. UK universities executed more licences than institutions in the other two countries, but had far fewer licences yielding income, and earned less gross income than either country.

Tom Hockaday, Chair of UNICO, said: 'It is very encouraging to see technology transfer is thriving in the UK [...]. UK universities are developing strong expertise, which over the long term will strengthen universities, the economy and society.'

For further information, please contact:
Professor Mike Wright
Nottingham University business school
Tel: +44 771 734 0917

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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