The University of Sheffield's response to the independent review of university spin-out companies

The University of Sheffield welcomes the announcement of £20m to help universities develop more spinout companies made in the autumn statement today (22 November) as well as the independent review of spin-out companies released yesterday.

Sheffield cityscape

The University of Sheffield welcomes the announcement of £20m to help universities develop more spin-out companies made in the autumn statement today (22 November) as well as the independent review of spin-out companies released yesterday.

The University of Sheffield has been recognised as one of the best universities in the country for developing IP and commercialising research. Since 2017, founders at the University have established 25 new businesses - ranging from advanced medical companies such as Rinri Therapeutics to 4th generation Artificial Intelligence developers such as Opteran

Andy Hogben, Head of Commercialisation, commented “We welcome the findings of the report and are encouraged that the changes and investment the University has made over the last 6 years align with these recommendations. Commercialisation is a strategic priority for the University and we have recently launched our new Commercialisation Journey to support innovators in turning their ideas into high quality commercial opportunities. Our Commercialisation Journey is purposefully innovator and founder focused, and enables the University to be the first investor in nearly all opportunities, deploying £1.5M of pre-seed investment annually. The University is playing a key role in building on the region’s legacy of innovation-led growth, for example through being a founding university in Northern Gritstone - a leading new venture business based in the north of England. This has already led to a step-change in the number of scalable spinouts and levels of private investment in our region.”

The announcement comes just one day after the University of Sheffield hosted “Innovation-led growth - what’s working?”, an event organised in collaboration with the N8 Research Partnership and the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce (RSA). The event brought together leaders from academia, industry, politics and policy to discuss innovation and how it can support entrepreneurs, start-ups and companies of all sizes to grow and invest in UK regional economies. The announcement made today will help strengthen the activity already taking place in this economically important area. 

“The event demonstrated how our region's stakeholders are already doing the hard work of building collaboration to enable innovation-led growth and it's clear we have an exciting future ahead. We will be prioritising how we work with Sheffield City Council, South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, Sheffield Hallam University and Sheffield Technology Parks to seed new initiatives within the Sheffield and South Yorkshire start-up ecosystems. 

To make this happen we need the government, UKRI and the University to continue the growth of pre-seed funding to enable founders to explore commercialisation and develop de-risked and attractive business propositions.  The recent HEIF commercialisation top-ups were incredibly valuable but that funding should continue to grow and could be prioritised based on the regional innovation needs rather than current KEF performance” added Andy. 

Responding to the Government's independent review of spin-out companiesProfessor Sue Hartley, Vice President for Research and Innovation at the University of Sheffield, said:

“This spotlight on spinouts and the conditions they need to thrive has come at the right time for UK universities.

“At Sheffield we have heavily invested in an approach to commercialisation that allows founders and investors to de-risk innovative opportunities. This has generated very positive impacts for our region – leading to more local jobs and opportunities for international investment. 

“We welcome the review’s observations about the transport and commercial infrastructure that is needed to help spinouts make tangible differences to communities outside the South East. We look forward to working with our partners to embed the recommendations and drive forward even more opportunities for South Yorkshire and beyond.” 


For further information please contact:

A global reputation

Sheffield is a research university with a global reputation for excellence. We're a member of the Russell Group: one of the 24 leading UK universities for research and teaching.