New report by Universities UK underlines university research and innovation’s central role in delivering growth

By February 8, 2023 Industry News

Universities UK’s new report: Higher Education Research and Innovation in Facts and Figures underlines how university research and innovation activity can help deliver growth by attracting investment and talent, making world-leading discoveries, generating knowledge, and creating and nurturing new, innovative businesses and jobs across the UK.

The report found that:

  • UK universities produce world-leading research. UK research is consistently judged to be exceeding its high expectations. The Field-Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI), which measures the academic impact of publications, ranked the UK as first among its G7 counterparts and higher than the OECD and EU totals.
  • Research and innovation activity is well distributed across the UK, playing a vital role in the government’s levelling up agenda. High-quality research is happening throughout the UK, with more than 80% of research emerging from each nation and region of the UK rated as ‘world-leading’ or ‘excellent’ by recent assessments. Universities in every part of the UK are supporting innovation through the creation of new businesses and partnering with large and small companies.
  • Investment in research and innovation delivers high returns on investment and creates economic benefits. Investment in the research and innovation ecosystem delivers value for money, with proven returns on investment on public funding – every £1 of public R&D spending stimulates between £1.96 and £2.34 of private spending.
  • Universities turn research into new businesses. In 2020–21 there were nearly 19,000 active spin-outs, start-ups and social enterprises that emerged from UK universities. In the same period, businesses born at universities employed an estimated 96,000 people.
  • Universities also license their research for businesses, not-for-profits, and the public sector to use. In 2020–21, universities had over 40,000 active licences with companies and non-commercial organisations.
  • University research helps businesses and other organisations solve problems. Despite the pandemic, universities have had nearly 600,000 interactions with businesses and non-commercial partners over the last five years through contract research and consultancy.
  • Universities also educate and develop the UK’s entrepreneurs. Nine out of 10 embed entrepreneurship within degree programmes, and the vast majority (98%) provide extra-curricular support for enterprise and entrepreneurship.


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