The National Centre's Collaboration Progress Monitor

The National Centre's Collaboration Progress Monitor
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The National Centre for Universities and Businesses launched in 2015 its tool for monitoring progress in collaboration over time¹.
The monitor provides the business-university sector with a means for self-assessment of collaboration performance, based on trusted and freely available indicators. It is flexible and scalable from UK wide to devolved administrations, and it shows, in a single page view, up to 16 different indicators organised in four categories: resources for collaboration, knowledge flows between universities and business,  partnerships, and commercialisation activity.
 
The performance of each indicator is compared with its own fiveyearaverage to separate indicators that are growing (above the average), from those that are falling (below the average) over time. This also allows to account for trade-offs between indicators that are related to one another, such as quantity and quality, or size².

Resources for university business collaboration

•• Industry income for Knowledge Exchange (KE), excluding  licensing, grew from £845 million in 2013 to £897 million in  014, an increase of 6 per cent, and faster than other sources of income for KE, leading to a small but growing gain in the share of industry in the total from 39.6% in 2013 to 40.3% in 2014.
•• Of the £7.6 billion of gross expenditure in R&D expected to be performed in universities in 2014, 4 per cent is expected to come from business R&D budgets. This is just over £300  million, and the same share of the total as the last five years on  average. The share of Foreign investment on the other hand is  expected to continue the steady growth of recent years, and  reach 18% in 2014, compared to 15% in the previous year.   
 
Collaboration-Progress-Monitor

Knowledge flows between universities and business

•• The share of publications with academic and corporate authors is expected to continue reducing in number but increasing in impact, suggesting continued concentration of publishing collaborative activity in a smaller number of more impactful publications. •• The share of graduate employment in innovative sectors (as defined by the UK Innovation Survey) is actually the same in 2014 as a year before, 40%, but it is still lower than the five-year average at 42%.

Partnerships between universities and businesses

•• Universities registered 81,706 interactions with small and mid-sized businesses in 2014, an increase of 22% from the previous year, and significantly higher than the five-year average of 62,502. The average size of the deal is however decreasing: it fell 7 per cent in a year to reach £2,091 in 2014. Engagement with small and mid-sized businesses continues a trend of spreading resources over a larger number of continuously smaller deals.
•• Universities reported 24,470 interactions with large businesse  in 2014, unchanged from the previous year and at similar levels as the last five years. The average size of each deal however, continued to grow to reach £23,501 in 2014, from £22,076  in 2013. Unlike deals with smaller businesses,  partnerships with large businesses across UK  universities follow a path of concentration.
•• The number of grants with academic partners awarded by Innovate UK has been growing steadily, reaching 571 in 2014, up 7 per cent from the previous year and above the five-year average of 435. The average grant size has been falling, down 9 per cent in the last year to reach £114,290 in 2014, well under the five-year average of £130,040.

Commercialisation in UK universities

•• The number of licenses granted rises every year on a fluctuating growth trend. It rose by 2 per cent from 4,069 in 2013 to 4,134 in 2014, and remains well above the five-year average of 3,426.
•• Income from licensing only (excluding the sale of spin-off companies) drawn from large business and small and mid-sized  businesses rose 11.6%, from £65.6 million in 2013 to £73.2 million in 2014.
•• The number of patents granted to universities has also been growing steadily, reaching 976 in 2014, up 2 per cent from 955 in 2013.
•• There was a minor decline of 0.5% in the number of spin-offs reported as active after three years from 975 in 2013 to 970 in 2014.
 
There will be collaboration activity between universities and business not captured by these indicators, but these are the closest we can get to university business collaboration in the UK, as captured by official statistics and official administrative data, openly available to users. 
 
All but four of the selected indicators are available for the constituent nations of England, Northern Ireland,
Scotland and Wales. Devolved monitors offer bespoke information on the evolution of collaboration between
universities and business in the devolved administrations. Due to data availability the devolved monitors in 2014 show deviations from three, not five-year averages.
 
Collaboration-Progress2-3
 
English universities are creating a larger number f smaller partnerships with small and medium sized businesses. Innovate UK grants with English academic partners are also increasing in number and decreasing in size. At the same time, English universities are concentrating resources with larger businesses, maintaining the number but increasing the size of each partnership. Commercialisation outputsof English universities are growing, except the count of spin-offs active after three years, which is static.
 
Welsh universities are reducing the count and increasing the size of partnerships with small and medium sized businesses, therefore concentrating resources for smaller business, while spreading resources wider among a larger number of smaller sized partnerships with large businesses. Innovate UK grants with Welsh academic partners are falling in number and in size. Income from licensing isfalling but this may be compensated over time with a growing number of licenses and patents granted.
 
While the Scottish c collaboration landscape, as shown in the monitor, is largely stable, it is worth noting that Innovate UK grants with Scottish academic partners are growing in number and falling in size. Counts of patents by Scottish universities are falling but this indicator fluctuates year-on-year, so it is worth revising the trend when more data become available.
 
Northern Irish universities are spreading their partnerships with large businesses wider, with a growing number of smaller deals. Innovate UK grants with academic partners in Northern Ireland are also growing in number and declining in size. Income from licensing is growing for Northern Irish universities, despite the number of licenses granted being stable. Figure 2 Collaboration Progress Monitors for devolved administrations 10
 
Learn from experience: Monitoring and evaluating innovation policies, learning from experience and adjusting policies over time, can help ensure that government action is efficient and reaches its objectives at the least possible cost (O CD, 2015⁵).
 
The monitor also provides early warnings to help collaborators and their funders judge if the changes shown need policy adjustment or not. For example, the 2014 trend shows that universities are spreading partnerships with small and medium sized businesses over a larger number of smaller deals. By comparing with the position of this indicator in previous years, the monitor also shows that universities may be autonomously correcting for this, because the reduction in the average size of these partnerships is smaller every year. Eventually, the trend may be reversed.
 
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For each year the monitor shows the deviation of the last value from the five-year average. The average itself is different for each of the two years, but the distance to it shows whether trend is continuing or changing: if  in the last year the indicator is closer to its own average, then it is growing slower than in previous years, or decelerating, and vice versa, if the last year value is further away from its own average, this indica r is growing faster than in previous years, or accelerating. In this year’s monitor, income sources are accelerating: the acceleration is small for Industry income from KE activity, but more noticeable for Foreign funds in HE and Income from licensing. The size of partnerships between universities and SMEs is decelerating (closer to their own average), thereby reducing concerns over the declining size of these partnerships. Also, Innovate UK are decelerating the growing number and declining size of grants with academic partners. This suggests that Innovate UK may have started concentrating resources in a smaller number of larger academic partnerships. Patents and licenses granted to universities in the UK are also still growing but decelerating.

Summary of the Collaboration Progress Monitor

Resources for university business collaboration are increasingly coming from foreign sources, and they are being concentrated to deliver high-quality collaborative outputs. Collaborators are increasing engagement with SMEs but slowing down the distribution of ever smaller deals among SMEs. Commercialization activities continue a healthy upward trend. Areas of collaboration to watch looking forward is to what extent the decelerating number of licenses granted will impact on the growing and accelerating licensingincome. It is also advisable to watch whether the declining size of partnerships with small and medium sized businesses continues to slow down over time. 

When is growth too fast or too slow?

Acceleration and deceleration help determine whether a trend is getting stronger or weaker. This can be used to avoid overreacting to the value of an indicator that currently does not fit with the trend but also does not imply a change in the trend. Confidence intervals tell us when the current value of an indicator is too far off a reasonable trend. A 75% confidence interval includes values of the indicator that are in trend 75% of the times⁶, that is, only 25% of the values are deemed as off trend. A stricter confidence interval of 55% can be considered but this leaves almost half of possible values out of acceptable trend. Figure 4 shows how far off from the 2014 five-year average is the current value of each indicator. All except Income from licensing fall within the confidence of 75%. In Figure 3 we observed that Income from licensing is growing and accelerating. From Figure 4 we can tell it is accelerating faster than predicted in 75% of the times. This may herald a change in trend to steeper growth of  income from licensing. However, note also that the indicator of number of Licenses granted, which feed the Income from licensing, are decelerating. If the licenses granted continue decelerating this may eventually also impact on the growth of the Income from licensing. Because of the combined effect of accelerating income but decelerating source of income (the licenses), the assessment is of caution and follow-up rather than immediate reaction. Although no other indicator falls off the 75% confidence interval, a few are close enough.
 
Among these worth noting:
 
•• The number of partnerships made with SMEs by universities is higher than predicted for 55% of the times, although it is decelerating compared to 2013, therefore containing the growing trend. •• The size of partnerships with large businesses by universities is also higher than predicted for 55% of times, and not decelerating, therefore it is at risk of falling off the 75% confidence interval in the future. •• The count of Innovate UK grants with an academic partner is also higher than predicted for 55% of the times but decelerating, so not expected to continue to score off the confidence interval. 
 
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1 NCUB (2015), ‘Monitoring tool for university business collaboration’, State of the Relationship Report.
2 This is superior to indexes that compound many indicators into a single rank, such as the Innovation Union Scoreboard or the Global Competitiveness Index, as these hide the reason why ranks change over time.
3 The release of 4 indicators is unavailable until later in the year. To avoid gaps in the monitor we project past performance to current year and add actual data to the online monitor as it becomes
4 Details of sources, including actual values of Business and Foreign funds in HE and Academic-Corporate publications indicators are online: www.ncub.co.uk
5 OECD (2015), ‘Innovation strategy 2015. An agenda for policy action’.
6 According to Chebyshev’s Theorem, a 75% interval includes all current values of the indicator that fall within 2 standard deviations above or below the average, and a 55% confidence interval includes
values that fall within 1.5 standard deviations above or below the average. 
 
The National Centre's Collaboration Progress Monitor
 
The National Centre for Universities and Businesses launched in 2015 its tool for monitoring progress in collaboration over time¹. The monitor provides the business-university sector with a means for self-assessment of collaboration performance, based on trusted and freely available indicators. It is flexible and scalable from UK wide to devolved administrations, and it shows, in a single page view, up to 16 different indicators organised in four categories: resources for collaboration, knowledge flows between universities and business,  partnerships, and commercialisation activity.The performance of each indicator is compared with its own fiveyearaverage to separate indicators that are growing (above the average), from those that are falling (below the average) over time. This also allows to account for trade-offs between indicators that are related to one another, such as quantity and quality, or size². Resources for university business collaboration •• Industry income for Knowledge Exchange (KE), excluding  icensing, grew from £845 million in 2013 to £897 million in  014, an increase of 6 per cent, and faster than other sources of income for KE, leading to a small but growing gain in the share of industry in the total from 39.6% in 2013 to 40.3% in 2014. •• Of the £7.6 billion of gross expenditure in R&D expected to be performed in universities in 2014, 4 per cent is expected to come from business R&D budgets. This is just over £300  million, and the same share of the total as the last five years on  average. The share of Foreign investment on the other hand is  expected to continue the steady growth of recent years, and  reach 18% in 2014, compared to 15% in the previous year.   
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