Science and Technology Select Committee Report - "Bridging the Valley of Death"

13 March 2013

Commenting on the Science and Technology Select Committee report on "Bridging the Valley of Death" Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, said:

“Our universities constitute a world-class research base which generates ideas and discoveries of commercial value. Thousands of leading businesses make Russell Group universities their partner of choice and our universities play a crucial role in stimulating economic growth, by engaging closely with business, enhancing skills and competitiveness, and generating major new products and world-beating spin-out companies. With the right investment, our universities can help develop pioneering products from conception to commercialisation.

“But - as this report says - finance is a major obstacle to the commercialisation of technology in the UK. If the right funding were in place then so much more could be done to take research ideas through to a final product or service.

“The report helpfully highlights the important role of ‘proof of concept’ funds and the challenges that many high-tech companies face in securing long-term capital (particularly compared to the US).  It remains a significant challenge in the UK to secure investment in new technologies.   

“Government initiatives should aim to address the issues in the funding pipeline in order to increase the commercialisation of research without diverting funds from basic research, which would be counterproductive.

“In straitened times, it is important that Government funding continues to support research-intensive universities in their innovation and knowledge transfer/exchange activities.”

Notes to editors

Russell Group universities undertake high levels of business interaction. In 2010/11, Russell Group universities accounted for:

  • 74% of the total income from contract research to UK universities.
  • 57% of the total income from collaborative research involving both public funding and funding from businesses to UK universities.
  • Russell Group universities accounted for 71% of the IP income generated by UK universities.
  • The estimated turnover from companies spun out from Russell Group universities was 49% of the total sector.
  • Active spin outs from Russell Group universities accounted for 63% of those which survived for three years.

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