Digging the data: report on IP-related & commercialisation activities in England 2019-20

Research England has released a report detailing IP-related and commercialisation activities submitted as part of the HE-BCI survey for the academic year 2019/20. A similar report was published in 2020 (commenting on 2018/19 data) and this report provides an update and considers the possible effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the HE sector. The main focus of the report is on IP income, patents and spin-outs in England since these categories continue to be the focus of attention by funders and policy makers for economic and social renewal and growth.

As indicated in the report’s introduction, the effects of the pandemic will be more fully represented in future reporting periods. It is also important to note that there is a natural time-lag between IP disclosure and any commercialisation outcome, and this should be borne in mind when considering the data. It remains to be seen how this input/output lag is affected by the lockdown and the enforced working from home that affected both public and private sector organisations during much of 2020 and 2021. Some of the evidence for that will be found in the work of the University Commercialisation Innovation unit, led by Tomas Coates Ulrichsen at University of Cambridge, which takes the temperature of university-business collaboration during and post-pandemic (for more information visit https://www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/research/uci-policy-unit/projects/).

The report concludes with international comparisons with similar data collected in the US by the AUTM for the financial year 2019. This shows that the UK is “broadly comparable with to the US on key measures of commercialisation performance” (Hamish McAlpine, Research England). PraxisAuril members are well-versed in the challenges of demonstrating ‘good’ numbers when it comes to commercialisation activities, particularly when it comes to new company creation. This data demonstrates that, when research resource is taken into account, the UK and US are not as far apart as the commentary suggests. For further reflections on the role of metrics in international technology transfer discussions, visit TenU’s blog (https://ten-u.org/news/the-value-and-limitations-of-core-tech-transfer-m...).

The HE-BCI data itself will be the subject of a review in 2022. PraxisAuril will be seeking ways to contribute members’ views into that work. 

Research England's report 'An Update on IP-Related and Commercialisation Activities in England in 2019/20' can be downloaded from the UKRI website https://www.ukri.org/publications/ip-related-and-commercialisation-activ...