Investment into university spinouts nearly doubled in 2021

A record £2.54bn was raised in 2021 with Oxford university spinouts topping the list, but gender imbalance remains

Investment into university spinout companies almost doubled in 2021 with a record £2.54bn raised across 389 deals, according to research.

The findings from the Royal Academy of Engineering and Beauhurst, found there are currently 1,130 active spinouts in the UK as of January 2022, with last year’s spinouts receiving an average equity investment of £6.7m.

The significant investment increase into spinouts continues the trend over the last decade, which has seen £11bn pumped into UK spinouts in total.

Pharmaceuticals was found to be the highest-performing sector, with AI, precision medicine, and e-health the emerging sectors on the spinout scene.

The University of Oxford topped the list by number of spinouts with 193 created since 2011 – substantially more than other UK universities – but there was representation from the Midlands, Northern England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the top 20.

See also: 12 of the most exciting tech companies in Oxford 

However, male founders and directors continue to dominate the UK university spinout scene, with some 86 per cent of UK spinouts having male founders, and 92 per cent having all-male directors.

Maria Dramalioti-Taylor, committee member of the Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise, said: “It’s fantastic to see the second edition of this report shed light on the current spinouts landscape in the UK. It’s our hope that recognising IP and commercialisation successes – and failures – will lead to progressive improvement within the spinout sector, including the encouragement of leadership diversity among spinouts. We want to ensure that the voices of excellent academic entrepreneurs influence wider debate and future research commercialisation policy.”

Science minister George Freeman added: “This report highlights the vital role university spinouts play in our innovation economy – raising a record £2.54bn last year creating the companies, technologies and jobs of tomorrow.

“The success of these companies is key to the UK’s ambitions to become a science superpower, increase R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP, and achieve sustainable growth, job creation and prosperity across the country.

“This insightful data shows that there is significant progress to be made in improving diversity in British science.”

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Dom Walbanke

Dom Walbanke

Dom is a feature writer for Growth Business and Small Business, focused on matters concerning start-ups and scale-ups. He has also been published in the Independent, FourFourTwo magazine and various lifestyle...