Spinouts: The Top 5 UK Universities Helping Entrepreneurship Thrive

What are the universities which are leading the way in creating and commercialising their academic research through spinout companies?

According to The Entrepreneurial Impact Ranking developed by the leading London-based VC, Octopus Ventures, the list is topped by Queen’s University Belfast which has been found to be the most effective in terms of its production of spinout companies and successful exits, relative to the total funding received.

The main reason the Queen’s University Belfast’s Success? It is called QUBIS, and it is the commercialisation arm of Queen’s through which they help “inspirational founders develop pioneering technology engendered at the university and make their mark in industry on the global stage,” Brian McCaul, CEO at QUBIS Ltd, explains.

Any examples? Kainos, Andor Technology and Fusion Antibodies, all of whom have been listed on the London Stock Exchange. Andor Technology was subsequently purchased by Oxford Instruments in 2013 for £176 million.


The list in enriched by the presence of Cambridge and Cardiff in second and third place, whilst Queen Mary of London and University of Leeds complete the Top 5.


UK’s universities are improving their research output internationally, the report points out. Throughout the total 9-year period that the ranking spans, the UK’s universities produced a total of 38,248 disclosures and 9,526 patents.

The success of leading universities in the USA in creating commercial value from academic research offers an indication as to the opportunity the UK could capitalise on.

Three are the key factors influencing the ability of academic entrepreneurs to build spinout companies including: funding for proof of concept and prototyping; talent, as it is extremely difficult to persuade highly skilled people to opt for higher risk spinout companies in the face of offers from more established enterprises; collaboration between universities and the whole ecosystem as it increases scale and capacity.

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