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The exterior of the Palatine Centre, bustling with students between lessons

We have welcomed an independent review of university spin-out companies.

The new report authored by Professor Irene Tracey and Dr Andrew Williamson aims to improve the creation and growth of university spin-out companies. The review makes 11 key recommendations to support the development of spin-out companies and build a world-leading innovation ecosystem.

Professor Karen O’Brien, Vice Chancellor, commented:

“We welcome the evidence within the spin-out review which highlights the enormous value spin-outs add to the UK economy, and demonstrates the vital work that universities undertake in supporting the commercialisation of research and supporting new enterprises to flourish.

“Durham University has been an active supporter of commercialisation through licensing, consultancy and spin-outs over many years and has continued to innovate to build its support for entrepreneurship among our academic staff and our students. Over the last six years we have also worked closely with our neighbouring universities in the North East to build further our support for the spin-out process through the Northern Accelerator programme which has resulted in the quadrupling of spin-out activity over this period.

“These businesses have been a product of the resource, skills, and investment of our universities, alongside the investor community and partners in local and national government who have supported us to build these initiatives. University spin-outs have created thousands of high value jobs across the country and this work is particularly important in regions like North East England where university spin-outs represent a higher proportion of the most innovative businesses in the regional economy than in other areas.

“We are committed to doing more within Durham. The spin-out review is a very useful report which brings together compelling evidence and case studies of good practice, and we look forward to working closely with the Government, investors and our colleagues across the university sector to build on the momentum from this review, draw from the recommendations in the report, and ensure we can sustain and further grow the thriving UK and North East spin-out ecosystem.”

Supporting spin-outs

As an active supporter of commercialisation, we are continuing to build support for entrepreneurship among our academic staff and students. Our technology transfer service supports the translation of intellectual property into business, economic and social activity through licensing, consultancy and spin-outs.

We work in partnership with universities in our region to deliver a strong spin-out pipeline into the North East economy. The Northern Accelerator programme is a collaboration between Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland, Teesside and York Universities. Funded by Research England's Connecting Capability Fund and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund from Durham County Council and North of Tyne Combined Authority, it ensures that world-changing research makes it out of universities to make a real-world impact in sectors such as health, life-sciences and green technology.

The successful partnership has led to a thriving innovation ecosystem addressing regional imbalance by aiming to level up private sector R&D investment and create innovation-led businesses that generate high quality jobs. In the last five years, 38 businesses have spun-out from our partner universities, employing over 670 people.

Northern Accelerator case study: Magnitude Biosciences

Magnitude Team

Based at County Durham’s North East Technology Park (NETPark), Magnitude Biosciences uses nematode worms, called C. elegans, an established tool in ageing research, to accelerate drug discovery, help find new supplements and make products less toxic.

C. elegans were the first multicellular organisms to have their complete genome sequenced and have been a powerful model in academic biology for years. Magnitude aims to bring that power to sectors such as biotech, health products and manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals.

Magnitude Biosciences has developed the innovative WormGazer™ to monitor large numbers of nematodes under multiple conditions.

Find out more:

Explore how Northern Accelerator is transforming spin-out creation

Read the independent review of spin-out companies

Learn more about Magnitude Biosciences