PraxisAuril responded to this consultation on behalf of members, emphasising the organisation's primary purpose as a professional network and training organisation dedicated to sharing expertise and experience across the sector. Key points made in the response included:
- A welcome to the consultation’s focus on funding for ‘scaling-up’ but caution that this should not detract from the need to maintain a balanced approach, considering the whole funding cycle (Proof-of-Concept onwards) to provide pathways for innovation and commercialisation.
- Investment funds that help to develop the outcomes of research are required that stimulate and avoid fragmentation. We have previously supported the University Challenge Fund scheme as an investment stimulus which could be deployed effectively in a multidimensional way. HEIF is highly valued for its non-hypothecated nature.
- The UK's research intensive universities have led the way in establishing university funds for 'patient' investment and trialling new collaborative business models to attract and retain investors. They must be part of the conversation towards new policy or finance interventions.
- There is no one-size fits all solution to commercialising research and we must ensure that the right frameworks are in place to build capacity across the UK's university sector. University spin-outs have particular characteristics in terms of capital requirements, management skills and sector challenges which require specialist investors who can work with academic founders and commercialisation offices.
- University commercialisation offices are important resources that should not be overlooked or undervalued in terms of the services they provide to academic entrepreneurs. Increasing the number and quality of spin-outs clearly has implications for resources to deliver on that ambition: to protect IP, build investor relationships, draw up and negotiate contracts, manage seed funds etc.
The consultation builds on recent group discussions with BEIS and the British Business Bank on spin-out funding issues which have been well received by all: we hope that this is just the start of the conversation as outcomes from this consultation (and others in the same policy area) are considered.