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Spinout Success: Cardiff in UK’s top three

15 November 2019

Site entrance at innovation campus

Cardiff University has placed third in a new UK ranking which measures how well universities perform in converting their research into successful companies.

The ‘Research to Riches’ report highlights UK institutions that are best at creating high-value spinouts.

Only Queens University Belfast and Cambridge University surpassed Cardiff in the list compiled by Octopus Ventures, one of Europe’s largest venture capital funds.

The study measured UK universities’ effectiveness in terms of their production of intellectual property, creation of spinout companies, and successful exits from spinouts relative to their total funding.

Cardiff University President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Riordan, said, “Innovation is in our blood and Cardiff has a long and proud tradition of commercialising research. The report pinpoints the correlation between access to early stage funding for the development of proof-of-concept ideas and prototypes and a spinout’s long-term survival."

This is a field in which we excel. Our investment in Cardiff Innovation Campus, currently under construction, will help us maintain spinout success in future by helping academics bridge the gap between early stage research and commercial realisation.

Professor Colin Riordan

The Campus will be home to Innovation Central, a state-of-the-art hub featuring commercial units, lab space for spinouts and start-ups and a visualisation centre. The University’s Home of Innovation, it will co-locate entrepreneurial academics, students and staff alongside business and society to create, test and incubate new initiatives. It is due to open in 2021.

Dr David Bembo, Director of Research & Innovation Services at Cardiff University, said “The rankings confirm our commitment to converting world-leading research into commercial success and benefits to society. Cardiff is responsible for 92% of the income generated by Welsh universities from the commercialisation of intellectual property via management of almost 90 patent families and over 1,300 active licence agreements. This portfolio adds value to a wide range of businesses, increasing their competitiveness and underpins translational research income to the University of around £10 million per annum.”

The findings show the UK ranks third globally with the numbers of PhDs it produces (behind the US and Germany), and third in the publication of academic papers (behind the US and China). Its leading research universities are on a par with their U.S counterparts in terms of quality research output.

The report also highlights areas for UK improvement, and recommends a range of measures including increased output of disclosures and patents, better incentives and alignment for academics to engage in commercialisation, and greater collaboration between universities.

Simon King, Partner at Octopus Ventures, said: “The UK is home to some of the world’s leading research universities which have been responsible for a huge number of ground-breaking scientific achievements. We have also seen a series of technology companies emerge from these institutions to establish themselves on the global stage, but the opportunity is much greater, and we believe the UK has the potential to produce many more of these pioneering businesses.”

Cardiff University brings social, cultural and economic benefits to Wales. One of Wales’s largest employers, with 11,200 jobs supported by University activities, our positive impact on the Welsh economy has risen from £2.04 billion in 2012/13 to £2.37 billion in 2016/17.

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