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HEFCE closed at the end of March 2018. The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.

Many of HEFCE's functions will be continued by the Office for Students, the new regulator of higher education in England, and Research England, the new council within UK Research and Innovation.

The HEFCE domain - - will continue to function until September 2018. At this point we will close the site entirely and all its information will only be available from the National Web Archive.


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The Higher Education - Business and Community Interaction Survey (Note 2) provides a comprehensive look at how HE exchanges knowledge with business and community partners, stimulates innovation, develops human capital and generates new enterprise, to the benefit of businesses, public services, and the wider community. The survey highlights some of the ways in which HE is stimulating new enterprises, helping them to prepare for an economic upturn. These include:

  • supporting 1,977 graduates and 41 members of staff to set up new businesses
  • creating 219 new companies based on university intellectual property ('spin-offs')
  • the number of graduate and staff start-up enterprises surviving for three years or more has risen to 1,322 and 155 respectively
  • over 900 spin-offs also passed the three-year marker.

The survey also describes a range of services provided directly to businesses and other economic and social organisations. Growth in income for HE services reflected the most immediate priorities of different user groups in these more difficult market conditions. The main features are:

  • Consultancy support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from HE, which could give them direct solutions for business problems, rose by 25 per cent (£58.5 million) in 2007-08.
  • The total value of contract research grew to £835 million in 2007-08, representing a 6.6 per cent increase from 2006-07. Income from contract work with large commercial companies rose 10.6 per cent over the same period.
  • More speculative, longer-term investment in collaborative research grew to over £697 million, representing a 4.2 per cent increase between 2006-07 and 2007-08.
  • Access to specialised facilities in universities – particularly valuable to companies, allowing them to use state-of-the-art equipment such as mass spectrometers or supercomputers without the major expense of buying it for themselves – grew by 11.6 per cent (£103.5 million) from 2006-07 to 2007-08.
  • Support to individuals coping with the recession is a key priority for HE now, and the survey demonstrates a strong track record in this area, with an 11 per cent (£537 million) increase in income from continuing professional development activity.

HE has maintained a balance between supporting existing businesses and generating new enterprises for the future. Alongside spinning off new innovative businesses, universities also significantly increased their licensing of ideas to help existing businesses. Overall, income from licensing increased by 11.3 per cent to £45 million in 2007-08.

HE is now providing new forms of support, such as internships, and offering lower-charged services for local and community enterprise: these are described as examples in the Universities UK brochure 'Standing Together' and outcomes of HEFCE's Economic Challenge Investment Fund.

HE also seeks to enrich their local and wider communities through social and cultural programmes. In 2007-08, 750,000 people attended free public lectures provided by higher education institutions (HEIs).

Science and Innovation Minister, Lord Drayson said:

'It is great to see our universities contributing so much to the economy. It's not just about money but also expertise, innovation and helping the UK remain at the cutting edge of science and research.'

Sir Alan Langlands, Chief Executive of HEFCE, said:

'This survey demonstrates the critical role that the higher education sector plays in delivering vital services to the business world and to society. Universities and higher education colleges are helping the economy in many different ways, by supporting new businesses, by creating ideas for commercial exploitation, and by preparing graduates entering the labour market. By providing £2.8 billion-worth of services to business, the higher education sector can truly demonstrate, through this survey, its worth and growing importance to the UK economy.'


  1. This figure is the total income to universities and HE colleges for the services they provide.
  2. The Higher Education - Business and Community Interaction Survey (HEFCE 2009/23) is published jointly by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and HEFCE. It was produced by HEFCE on behalf of several stakeholders within Government including BIS. The survey is the most complete of its kind in the world.
  3. From 2008-09, the HE-BCI Survey becomes fully embedded in HE data collection systems, with the survey to be compiled by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
  4. 160 UK HEIs responded to the survey.
  5. Patents are only one way of protecting certain types of intellectual property. For more information see the Intellectual Property Office.
  6. A 'spin-off' is an enterprise that has one or more of the following attributes:
    • an HEI or HEI employee(s) possesses equity stakes
    • it has been created by the HEI
    • it has been set up by HEI employees to enable the commercial exploitation of knowledge arising from academic research.
  7. Due to developments in the annual survey process, not all indicators can be viewed over all years. Those provided in the table below are sufficiently robust to form a trend.
  8. Some additional selected data from the survey are given in the table below:
Indicators from the HE-BCI survey (all UK)Academic year
Income from UK HEIs/ £M (real terms)2000-012001-022002-032003-042004-052005-062006-072007-082008-09
Collaborative research 496 550 544 599 573 629 687 697 n/a
Contract research n/a n/a n/a 639 666 687 804 835 n/a
Consultancy 124 143 191 233 242 255 296 335 n/a
Equipment services 31 59 76 88 82 95 95 103 n/a
Regeneration n/a n/a 144 239 225 239 272 238 n/a
Continuing professional development n/a n/a n/a 326 408 425 498 537 n/a
Intellectual property income (non-software + software licences) n/a n/a 30 34 39 44 41 45 n/a
Total intellectual property income (including sale of shares) n/a n/a 42 42 61 61 60 66 n/a
Outputs from UK HEIs2000-012001-022002-032003-042004-052005-062006-072007-082008-09
Patent applications n/a n/a n/a 1,308 1,648 1,536 1,913 1,898 n/a
Patents granted n/a n/a n/a 463 711 577 647 590 n/a
Formal spin-offs established n/a n/a n/a 167 148 187 226 219 n/a
Formal spin-offs still active after three years n/a n/a n/a 688 661 746 844 923 n/a
% UK HEIs that provide:2000-012001-022002-032003-042004-052005-062006-072007-082008-09
Enquiry point for SMEs 83% 85% n/a n/a 89% 90% 91% 91% 93%
Short bespoke courses on client's premises 63% 67% n/a n/a 78% 80% 84% 83% 88%
Distance learning for businesses 53% 52% n/a n/a 66% 66% 68% 68% 68%
Required contracting system for all consultancy 60% 65% n/a n/a 66% 68% 73% 75% 75%