University-business collaboration has been given a boost this week with the announcements by HEFCE of a HEIF 'uplift' for English universities and awards of £177 million through the UK Research Investment Partnership Fund (UKRIPF).
The additional HEIF, part of £4.7 billion R&D funding announced in the Autumn statement, is to 'boost capacity' for business collaboration and commercialisation in universities as part of the government's industrial strategy. HEIF is a highly effective way of providing universities with the resources they need to work with companies and take research into the market. Unlike many other forms of funding HEIF is highly flexible and can be deployed in support of institutional research and impact strategies. Universities increased revenue from knowledge exchange to £3.5 billion in the academic year 2015-16, demonstrating their ability to attract new and repeat business across a range of KEC activities (see annual HEBCI data). HEIF was commended by the House of Commons Science & Technology Select Committee in its 2016/17 review of IP and Technology Transfer; the Committee recommended that such funding should be available to universities throughout the UK.
The UKRIPF awards university-business collaborations across a wide range of application-driven projects and is another example of universities working to support economic growth and innovation in the UK. This is the fifth round of funding to be announced by HEFCE since 2012, funding 43 projects and attracting over £1.65 billion of further investment from external investors. A full list of projects can be found on the HEFCE website.