Brussels, 29 April 2002
The UK is more efficient than the USA at converting university research into commercial success, according to a new analysis by Dr Ederyn Williams, Director of Warwick ventures at the University of Warwick.
'UK research is good value,' says Dr Williams. 'With a research base of just three billion GBP (4.9 billion euro), our universities created 199 spin off companies during 2000, while the USA - although it spends 20 billion GBP (32.4 billion euro) a year on research - only created 368 spin-offs.' Although US universities are allocated almost seven times more funding than their UK counterparts, they made only 10,802 invention disclosures in 2000, whereas UK universities represented better value for money with 2500.
Dr Williams explains British productivity in terms of two factors - researchers' salaries are lower in the UK so more research gets done for the money, and US universities seem much keener to patent and licence their inventions than to form companies and contribute directly to the economy.
Some of the scientific ideas emerging from commercially minded British researchers will be showcased at the British Joint research councils' Business plan competition final in London on 8 May. Five finalists are currently being selected by judges from a field of sixty to battle for the 25,000 GBP prize (40, 448 euro).
Some of the ideas under consideration are perhaps ripe for commercial exploitation. These include music speakers no thicker than a piece of wallpaper, a tiny electronic 'nose' that can help diagnose illness by analysing gases in breath and a smart paint that can sense vibrations.
For further information, please consult the following web addresses: http://www.raeng.org.uk/policy/ukfocus/ conferences.htm