Universities and private equity: a winning combination

UK Science and Innovation Minister Ian Pearson has said that private equity can boost the country’s ability to turn scientific and technological advances into new products, but that it has been
‘unfairly maligned’ in the past.

Private equity is an ‘aggressively creative force’ in the UK’s economy, and a source of the country’s competitive advantage, according to Mr Pearson. The UK’s range of venture capital resources
mean that the country is also leading the way in Europe in this domain.

‘Private equity is a key part of the lifeblood of the UK’s innovation ecosystem. It has been unfairly maligned, often by those with vested interests […]. The Government has always supported
the venture capital industry and we must continue to stand up for it as a positive change agent in our economy and as an important source of finance for new businesses, the tech-stars and
biotech-stars of the future,’ said the minister.

Speaking to members of the private equity and venture capital industry in London on 29 October, Mr Pearson also highlighted the role of universities. Businesses benefit from the practical
research conducted by universities that can help them to improve efficiency and productivity.

Universities have recognised this themselves already. In 2006 and 2007, universities generated GBP 595 million (?849 million) from collaborative research and GBP 236 million (?337 million) from
consultancy work. Over the same period, 187 new spin-outs were created, bringing UK universities’ portfolio of spin-outs over three years old to nearly 700. Seven of these companies were
acquired for GBP 2 billion (?2.85 billion) over the last two years, and universities have also generated an impressive amount from intellectual property.

‘To succeed in the global economy Britain needs to compete through its universities as well as through its businesses. At the same time we need to cooperate, to develop strong international
links between our universities and those in the US, China and India; strengthen business to business interaction internationally; and build closer ties between our universities and British
companies of all sizes,’ said Mr Pearson.

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