TenU, the international collaboration of ten technology transfer offices (TTOs) of the world’s leading universities, welcomes the UK Government’s Independent Review of University Spin-out Companies, published today.

The review puts forward recommendations to accelerate the UK towards the rapid creation of spin-outs on market-competitive terms and encourages further collaboration across the UK’s innovation ecosystem. Its recommendations, if successfully implemented, should enhance the economic and societal impact of university-inspired innovation, which continues to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.

The Spin-out Review places significant emphasis on the University Spin-out Investment Terms (USIT) Guide, a set of recommendations to improve the speed and efficiency of university spin-out formation. Launched by TenU in April 2023, with contributions from other leading universities and prominent venture capital firms, global law firms and key professional associations, the USIT Guide demonstrates the shared commitment across the university innovation sector to work together to build businesses that can change the world. The USIT Guide working group was chaired by Cambridge Enterprise Chief Executive Dr Diarmuid O’Brien.

The UK university innovation sector has an excellent track record of creating and growing successful spin-out companies. TenU members are pleased that the review acknowledges the UK institutions’ prowess in commercialising innovative research. They also support its recommendation that the sector builds on its successes and strives for even greater results.

  • TenU’s members are committed to continuing to lead sector-wide discussions to develop recommendations and templates for software and other technologies, through roundtable discussions with universities, venture capital firms, founders and other partners.
  • TenU’s members will support UKRI in shaping national proof of concept (POC) schemes that release funding so that academic inventors of high-potential technologies can more quickly form robust and investable spin-outs. With experience in its members’ own POC funding schemes, TenU is able to share expertise and engage in nation-wide collaboration to build sustainable schemes that facilitate a UK-wide acceleration in spin-out creation.
  • TenU’s members support the creation of a national register of spin-outs that is secure and provides accurate data, without increasing the burden of collection for universities.
  • TenU’s members will continue to provide training, advice and access to networks for founders through accelerators and venture builders accessible both to academic staff and students. The TTOs will also continue their work with investors and mentors to strengthen their capability in this area and provide advice and support to the sector.
  • All of this will need to be accompanied by a well-funded research environment that promotes curiosity-driven research whilst offering frameworks that give academic researchers the option to prioritise bringing their innovative ideas to market. TenU university TTOs will champion efforts by Research England in this regard and support it in their implementation.

The TenU university TTO partners look forward to continuing to share effective practices with the sector and government. Together we will continue to support the sector in building on its strengths and in identifying and pursuing opportunities for acceleration of the spin-out process, by convening and rallying the sector around its aim to save lives and increase the country’s economic and social wellbeing by commercialising academic research.

University research commercialisation has increased exponentially in the past decade. The much-welcomed independent report on university spin-outs shows us that we are on the right track with initiatives such as the USIT Guide, and shines a light on further opportunities to supercharge the sector. We look forward to continuing to foster collaborative efforts to accelerate the pathway from research to market.

Dr Ananay Aguilar, Head of TenU

The recommendations in the spin-out report will unlock the latent potential within the UK’s innovation ecosystems and are a roadmap to the UK Government’s ambitions of the country becoming a Science Superpower. The provision of funding and expertise is essential to convert our universities’ most promising technologies into companies that grow and scale rapidly.

Dr Diarmuid O’Brien, Chief Executive of Cambridge Enterprise and Chair of The USIT Guide

We're working with our investors and TTO partners to galvanise investment and growth opportunities for university spin-outs. We're hoping the review recommendations will encourage more inward investment into the UK and provide larger rounds for later stage companies wishing to scale-up rapidly and compete globally. We’d also like to see a boost in early phase funding to give our founders the best chance of kick-starting their companies.

Adam Workman, Head of Investments & New Ventures, Oxford University Innovation

The University of Edinburgh welcomes this independent report and is particularly pleased that the Review recognises the significant work already undertaken at universities to nurture entrepreneurial ecosystems and provide dedicated, bespoke support to unlock innovation and benefit society. This timely review should give universities, investors and Government a solid base to build on this excellent track record of spin-outs from UK universities.

Dr George Baxter, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Innovations

This Review recognises the importance of universities investing in sustained, curated support and infrastructure for innovation. We welcome its findings and hope its recommendations will galvanise stakeholders across the university innovation ecosystem to help UK spinouts generate even more impact.

Simon Hepworth, Director, Imperial Enterprise

As well as creating jobs and economic impact, university spin-outs scale up solutions to complex societal challenges, from reducing carbon emissions to therapies for rare hereditary diseases. The recommendations published in this review will help universities harmonise the process of spin-out creation. We look forward to working even closer with fellow universities, government, and the investment community to ensure a healthy and sustained flow of investment back into academic research whilst supporting the emerging world-changing businesses of the future.

Dr Anne Lane, CEO, UCL Business