Universities are fast becoming a lot more than just institutions for further education. Gone are the days where they simply offered students the opportunity to gain further skills and qualifications before embarking on their chosen careers.
The growth in commercially focused research and development at many of the UK’s universities has seen them become hugely valued resources among young entrepreneurs who wish to start their own businesses. With departments dedicated to helping with things like product innovation, business mentoring and even the company formation process itself, some Universities could almost be mistaken for company formation agents in their own right.
This is certainly the case at the University of Edinburgh, which has reported a record number of company formations in the past 12 months, taking the total created over the past five years to 184. Bosses have revealed that the institution formed 44 start-ups and three spin-outs last year, with investment in university-founded companies also hitting a record high to the tune of £237 million.
It is over 40 years since Edinburgh established its first spin-out, and since then the university claims to have created a total of more than 400 start-ups and spin-out companies. Of the businesses formed over the past five years, the total number of people employed is said to be 343.
One of the most high-profile success stories to emerge from the university has been pureLiFi, a high-tech spin-out whose light-enabled internet technology has been incorporated at the home of the current NBA basketball champions, the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, California.
Grant Wheeler, head of company formation at Edinburgh Research and Innovation, the university’s commercialisation arm, attributed the performance to Edinburgh’s emergence as the largest technology hub outside London with the university and its enterprise scene at the centre.
“Whether it’s from the world-class research base or from the student entrepreneurs, we’re seeing new companies being formed here and in record numbers,” he commented.
Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, principal of the university, added: “Edinburgh is amongst the most entrepreneurial universities in the United Kingdom. The first-class support provided by the university and the wider enterprise support network play an important role not only in the student experience but in delivering impact for the world-class research coming out of our university.”
With more and more Universities striving to emulate Edinburgh, it seems only a matter of time before company formation and business support services become as embedded within institutions as the courses they offer. Who knows, maybe we’ll be listing university reviews on here one day?
Are you setting up a company in the UK? Our directory lists approved company formation agents that can help you, and post reviews of their services so you can make an informed choice about which one to use.