New data issued today shows that despite the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, collaboration between universities and business remained resilient between August 2020 and July 2021.

The Higher Education Business Community and Interaction (HE-BCI) survey results released today show that between August 2020 and the end of July 2021:

  • UK university income from interactions increased by 1.6%, compared to the previous year, totalling £5.16 billion;
  • 3,337 patents were granted, up by 8.8% from 2019-20;
  • 18,396 licenses were granted, up by 4.6% from 2019-20;
  • 194 newly registered spinouts, up by 11% from 2019-20.

Commenting on the new HE-BCI survey results released today, Dr Joe Marshall, Chief Executive of the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), said: “Despite facing monumental and unprecedented uncertainty, university-business collaboration in the UK deepened and intensified in the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic. New data released today shows that, despite challenges, across a range of indicators universities have ramped up engagement with business and commercialisation activities. In particular, HE-BCI data shows a significant increase in the number of newly registered spinouts, as well as a positive growth in the number of patents and licenses granted. Collaboration between universities and businesses was foundational and central in combatting the crisis and leading recovery.”

Marshall continued: “However the full picture does reveal concerning findings. As expected, due to the impact of Covid-19, interactions with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) fell during the first year of the pandemic. Indeed, SME engagement fell by 2.5% between 2020-21 and 2019-2020. This is the second year running that this has been recorded. In order to reverse this worrying trend, and to help build back better, we are calling on the Government to offer more support for SMEs to access universities. New funding streams should be introduced and clear and accessible routes to partner with universities should be developed. Now is the time for the Government, businesses and universities to invest in, not away from, collaboration, research and innovation.”