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Universities continue their positive impact on the economy

The tenth annual survey on how universities work with and generate business has shown that they continue to make a significant contribution to the Welsh economy.

The HE-BCI Survey shows how Wales’s universities are developing their expertise and their facilities, and developing and applying the knowledge they generate with businesses and within the wider community.

Universities have continued to reach beyond their UK weighting of roughly 5% in several areas of activity, and have improved their overall activity share in others. 

In 2009/10, Wales performed above its UK weighting in areas such as:

·         Collaborative research involving both public funding and funding from business          6%

·         Income from regeneration and development programmes          6%

·         Software only licences granted          7%

·         Number of active university spinout and staff start-up companies that have survived at least three years          8%

·         Number of active graduate business start-up companies that have survived at least three years          11%

In other areas, Wales performs below its 5% expected share of overall UK higher education activity, particularly in relation to commercialising intellectual property owned by universities. However, the latest survey confirms an upwards trend in levels of commercialisation activity and the income it generates.

Professor Philip Gummett, Chief Executive of HEFCW, said: “The latest survey data show that, even in unfavourable economic conditions, universities in Wales are continuing to make a positive impact on the economy and society. We acknowledge all the high-quality developments that are happening in the higher education sector in Wales. Furthermore, we  are seeing an upturn in activity where Wales has traditionally compared unfavourably with the rest of the UK, including income from commercialising intellectual property and in areas of collaborative research.

“While we have seen a downward trend in activity overall in the UK in a number of areas, some have hit Wales particularly hard, such as drops in contract research activity and the total number of learner days of CPD or continuing education courses delivered. It also shows that while Welsh universities are particularly successful at interacting with small and medium-sized businesses they are not  so successful at winning high value contracts with larger companies. This is an issue that we are already  examining with institutions themselves.

“ We will continue our work with universities to boost their success and performance in all areas, for their own benefit, and for Wales as a whole.”

Publication date: 15 September 2011