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New UK report to boost university spinout companies

20 Nov 2023

As a member of TenU, the international collaboration of ten technology transfer offices (TTOs) of the world’s leading universities, Edinburgh Innovations welcomes the UK Government’s Independent Review of University Spin-out Companies, published today.

The review puts forward recommendations to accelerate the UK towards the rapid creation of spinouts on market-competitive terms and encourages further collaboration across the UK’s innovation ecosystem. Its recommendations, if successfully implemented, should enhance the economic and societal impact of university-inspired innovation, which continues to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.

The Spin-out Review places significant emphasis on the University Spin-out Investment Terms (USIT) Guide, a set of recommendations to improve the speed and efficiency of university spinout formation. Launched by TenU in April 2023, with contributions from other leading universities and prominent venture capital firms, global law firms and key professional associations, the USIT Guide demonstrates the shared commitment across the university innovation sector to work together to build businesses that can change the world.

The UK university innovation sector has an excellent track record of creating and growing successful spinout companies. TenU members are pleased that the review acknowledges the UK institutions’ prowess in commercialising innovative research. They also support its recommendation that the sector builds on its successes and strives for even greater results.

  • TenU’s members are committed to continuing to lead sector-wide discussions to develop recommendations and templates for software and other technologies, through roundtable discussions with universities, venture capital firms, founders and other partners.
  • TenU’s members will support UKRI in shaping national proof of concept (POC) schemes that release funding so that academic inventors of high-potential technologies can more quickly form robust and investable spinouts. With experience in its members' own POC funding schemes, TenU is able to share expertise and engage in nation-wide collaboration to build sustainable schemes that facilitate a UK-wide acceleration in spinout creation.
  • TenU’s members support the creation of a national register of spinouts that is secure and provides accurate data, without increasing the burden of collection for universities.
  • TenU’s members will continue to provide training, advice and access to networks for founders through accelerators and venture builders accessible both to academic staff and students. The TTOs will also continue their work with investors and mentors to strengthen their capability in this area and provide advice and support to the sector.
  • All of this will need to be accompanied by a well-funded research environment that promotes curiosity-driven research whilst offering frameworks that give academic researchers the option to prioritise bringing their innovative ideas to market. TenU university TTOs will champion efforts by Research England, which funds TenU, in this regard and support it in their implementation.

The TenU university TTO partners look forward to continuing to share effective practices with the sector and government. Together we will continue to support the sector in building on its strengths and in identifying and pursuing opportunities for acceleration of the spinout process, by convening and rallying the sector around its aim to save lives and increase the country's economic and social wellbeing by commercialising academic research.

Dr George Baxter, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Innovations, the University of Edinburgh’s commercialisation service said:

The University of Edinburgh welcomes this independent report and has been a keen contributor to the process individually and as part of the TenU. We are particularly pleased that the Review recognises the significant work already undertaken at universities to nurture entrepreneurial ecosystems and provide dedicated, bespoke support to unlock innovation and benefit society.
Over the last year alone, University of Edinburgh companies have received over £107m in investment, generating a positive impact for our economy and community. And we’re not done yet – we are creating an Innovation Career Pathway for Edinburgh researchers to further reward and accelerate their innovation journey. This timely review should give universities, investors and Government a solid base to build on this excellent track record of spinouts from UK universities. ”

Ananay Aguilar, Head of TenU, said:

University research commercialisation has increased exponentially in the past decade. The much-welcomed independent report on university spinouts shows us that we are on the right track with initiatives such as the USIT Guide, and shines a light on further opportunities to supercharge the sector. We look forward to continuing to foster collaborative efforts to accelerate the pathway from research to market. ”

Related links

Read the full report on the UK Gov website

Read the USIT Guide on the TenU website