But its future is uncertain…

The Collaboration Progress Monitor, the National Centre for Universities and Business’ (NCUB) annual tracking of long-term trends in UK university-business collaboration, shows the number of interactions increased across the board in 2017/18. The Monitor forms part of the State of the Relationship report 2020.

The Collaboration Progress Monitor revealed that 2017/18 saw:

  • Almost 113,000 interactions between universities and businesses, with the number increasing by 10.2% from 2017 to 2018;
  • Investment by UK businesses in university research and development (R&D) soar by 8.7% in real terms in just one year – taking the total investment to £389m, between 2017/18;
  • In just one year, 2017/18, the number of interactions between universities and SMEs grew by 11.9% to 85,218, and interactions with large businesses grew in the same period, by 5.5% to 27,645.

Dr Joe Marshall, Chief Executive of the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), said: “New analysis, published today, shows that collaborations and partnerships between universities and businesses were soaring before the Covid-19 pandemic. Between 2017 and 2018 the numbers of collaborations increased by more than 10 per cent on the previous year. It is hugely positive that these partnerships were becoming deeper and better embedded into the working practices of business and university actors across the ecosystem. Undoubtedly, working together helped universities and businesses to build the resilience to help carry them through the Covid-19 crisis.”

Marshall continued: “Although we have seen a rise in collaborations between universities and businesses for many years, the future looks challenging for collaboration as organisations respond to unprecedented change and uncertainty. Although university-business collaboration in the UK had been deepening, we need, now more than ever, to see collaborations continue to rise. Now is not the time for complacency. These vibrant, and productive partnerships that create lifesaving, innovative products and processes and develop our skilled graduates, are the lifeblood of the UK economy.”

David Sweeney, Executive Chair of Research England, which commissioned the report, said: “This report showcases how universities and business have worked together effectively across the UK and the benefits of that collaboration locally, nationally and internationally. Continuing and deepening university-business collaboration will be essential to help the country recover from the impact of the pandemic and to thrive in the future. Support for university knowledge exchange is a key element in regional resilience, as described in the report, and UK Research and Innovation is now working with the Government on a Place R&D Strategy to deliver improved local R&D outcomes in regions which currently face investment and capacity constraints.”

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