The prolific innovation found in the UK’s high growth scene is the result of many different actors and initiatives. As well as the diverse range of financial support for young companies, the ecosystem also benefits from world-leading academic institutions establishing and supporting their own spinout companies.
Translating the pioneering intellectual property that is developed in universities’ laboratories and libraries into commercially viable products is a difficult task, as is supporting academics to become entrepreneurs.
The ecosystem is rising to this challenge, through the establishment of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and other centres for business support within Higher Education institutions, as well as the creation of investment bodies specific to certain universities. For example, University of Oxford Innovation Fund (UOIF), managed by Parkwalk Advisors, has participated in 38 fundraisings totalling £105m.
Grants are often an important factor in a spinout’s growth trajectory, providing fuel for innovation and expansion without diluting ownership or expecting quick returns. Innovate UK is the most significant grant body for the UK’s young companies; in 2018, the initiative granted £163m to academic spinouts. The Wellcome Trust fund trails in second, contributing £4.3m to high-growth spinouts in medical and healthcare sectors.
This patient financial support is incredibly important for young companies with a heavy reliance on complex technology. We’ve ranked the top universities by the number and value of grants received by their spinout companies in 2018.
Top universities by number of grants secured by spinouts in 2018
Top universities by value of grants secured by spinouts in 2018
Collaboration between universities can also be a stimulus for a new spinout. Imperial College London has produced the most ambitious companies with more than one parent institution (9). The most common collaborations were between Imperial College London and University College London, and between Imperial and University of Cambridge, each having co-produced three high-growth companies.
The grants included in this analysis come from a wide range of sources, including InnovateUK, Scottish Enterprise, Kickstarter, the Royal Academy of Engineering, Regional Growth Fund and the European Commission (such as Horizon 2020), amongst many more.