New data issued today shows the alarming impact that financial pressures are having on university and business collaboration. Our innovative economy relies on this collaboration to drive growth and prosperity.

The Higher Education Business Community and Interaction (HE-BCI) survey results released today show that between August 2022 and the end of July 2023:

  • 76,619 university-business interactions took place, a decline of 5% from the previous year;
  • Universities generated £5.7 billion of income from knowledge exchange activity, a 0.02% decline in cash terms and 6.1% decline in real terms from the previous year;
  • 1,571 spin-out companies that had survived at least three years, up by 9%;
  • There were 165 newly registered spinouts.

Commenting on the new HE-BCI survey results released today, Rosalind Gill, Head of Policy and Engagement at the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), said: “Today’s new data is a stark warning that financial pressures are straining university knowledge exchange and collaboration with industry. Across a range of metrics, and despite comparisons being made against particularly challenging years during the Covid-19 pandemic, collaboration between universities and businesses declined rather than grew in 2022-23.”

Gill continued: “Falls in university-business interaction are likely linked to a range of factors including the significant financial pressures facing universities, as well as the loss of vital EU Regional Development Funding (ERDF). ERDF played a critical role in supporting some forms of collaboration but has not been adequately replaced.”

Gill concluded: “Despite the declines observed in 2022-23, university-business collaboration remains a major competitive strength of the UK. The new data highlights UK university strengths in generating spinouts, with the number of university spinout companies surviving longer than three years growing by 9%. There is a crucial window for the Government to act now to return university-business collaboration to a trajectory of growth. This requires putting university funding on a more sustainable footing and supporting collaboration with businesses of all sizes.”