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Analysis of the latest data on interactions between universities and business (the Higher Education – Business and Community Interaction (HE-BCI) survey) shows the value placed on the knowledge and expertise of the UK’s publicly-funded universities and colleges. The total knowledge exchange investment has risen from £3.4 billion in 2011-12 to £3.6 billion in 2012-13, an increase of five per cent.

Main indicators (£000s cash terms)2011-122012-13Change%
Collaborative research 871,347 951,126 79,779 9.2%
Consultancy 397,800 399,738 1,938 0.5%
Contract research 1,093,343 1,166,038 72,695 6.6%
Continuing professional development and continuing education 640,896 653,305 12,409 1.9%
Facilities and equipment related services 138,751 141,514 2,763 2.0%
Intellectual property income 79,269 86,640 7,371 9.3%
Regeneration and development programmes 179,980 172,069 -7,911 -4.4%
Total 3,401,384 3,570,430 169,046 5.0%

Universities provide a competitive advantage to private enterprise, driving employment and GDP, while working with charities, hospital trusts and the public sector improves quality of life in the UK. 

Madeleine Atkins, HEFCE Chief Executive, said:

‘The overall success described in this report demonstrates the critical role that universities play in their local and national economies. HEFCE’s funding for knowledge exchange through the Higher Education Innovation Fund is an important contributor to this success: for every one pound invested in universities their activity increases by over six pounds over time, which will rise with these results. And we are now doing more to support new and better jobs in the knowledge economy, particularly in the engagement with SMEs and through the supporting role of universities as anchors for their local and regional economies.’

The report also covers enterprise, entrepreneurship, and public engagement. For example, recent UK graduates set up over 3,500 new enterprises in 2012-13 – 800 more than were reported the previous year. Nearly 1.8 million people took the opportunity to attend free public lectures across the academic spectrum.

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said:

‘These new figures show that universities are successfully engaging with businesses and delivering long-term economic growth.

University income is now rising and this will ensure we continue to deliver a world class higher education system, and a first rate student experience’.

Neil Carberry, CBI Director for Employment and Skills, said:

‘Universities are powerful engines of economic growth, and are helping to rebalance the economy towards high-skill, high-value sectors.  So it’s really encouraging to see levels of business investment in research continuing to rise strongly as more and more businesses engage with our world-class Higher Education sector.  Businesses also benefit from the provision of consultancy services, training and professional development, and access to cutting edge facilities and equipment.’

This year’s HE-BCI survey is being published during Universities Week 2014 – a UK-wide campaign to highlight the value and importance of university research to our everyday lives. The campaign is co-ordinated by Universities UK, with support from HEFCE, Research Councils UK, and the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement.

Notes

  1. Higher Education – Business and Community Interaction survey 2012-13’ (HEFCE 2014/10) is available online.
  2. Knowledge exchange performance and the impact of HEIF in the English higher education sector’ is available online.

‘Knowledge exchange’ refers to HEIs’ engagement with businesses, public and third sector services, the community and wider public. It includes the transferring or exchanging of knowledge with the aim of delivering external impact, such as improving products, services and profitability. This is linked with research and teaching, and includes consultancy and advisory work, the creation of intellectual property, the development of academic and student entrepreneurship, and a variety of other activities.