Westminster Higher Education Forum

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Next steps for UK university spin-outs and commercialisation

Morning, Monday, 11th December 2023

This conference will look at next steps for university spin-outs and licencing deals, and latest thinking and best practice in commercialisation of academic research.

It follows the Government’s acceptance of recommendations in the HM Treasury-sponsored Independent Review of University Spin-Out Companies, and the announcement of plans to inject a further £70m in funding with the aim of fostering more spin-out companies and supporting scale-up. It will be an opportunity to discuss priorities for policy, the HE sector and their partners in light of the Review’s recomendations.

Delegates will assess evidence on how performance on deal structuring and commercialisation varies across UK HEIs, looking at examples of best practice from both within the UK and internationally, and the role that the university sector, innovators, investors and the Government can play in driving growth.

Sessions look at success factors for the structuring of spin-outs and strategies for building sustainable and productive relationships between universities, innovators, business partners and co-investors, including benchmarks and factors affecting equity stakes that universities take within spin-outs.

Further sessions will focus on the barriers academics face with regard to commercial interests, and the way forward for enabling technology transfer between research centres and their partners.

We are pleased to be able to include keynote sessions with Robin Polding, Research Commercialisation Policy Lead, Department for Science, Innovation and Technology; and Alice Frost, Director of Knowledge Exchange, Research England.

Overall, areas for discussion include:

  • the Independent Review: what is being learned for moving policy and higher education sector practice forward
  • Autumn Statement 2023: the place and role of spin-outs in accelerating growth
  • spin-out processes: efficiency and reducing bureaucracy - support from the founding institution - key factors for creating mutual benefit - licensing deals and key IP considerations - equity shares
  • investment: the role of angel and venture funding in early-stage growth of spin-outs - options for addressing barriers academics face when pursuing commercial interests
  • terms between HEIs and innovators: equity stakes in spin-out companies and their impact on further investment - assessing and agreeing fair value for both universities and their innovators
  • investment and structures: the role of spin-off partners in de-risking proposals to attract investment - developing value propositions - assembling strong start-up teams - securing patient capital
  • widening participation: diversifying spin-out leadership - increasing the geographic spread of successful spin-outs - encouraging investment beyond the South East - role in levelling up

The conference will be an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who are due to attend from DBT; Defra; Department for the Economy, NI; DESNZ; DHSC; DLUHC; DSIT; FCDO; GLD; GO-Science; HMRC; IPO; MHRA; OLS; UKHSA; UKRI; UKSA; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government.

Keynote Speakers

Robin Polding

Research Commercialisation Policy Lead, Department for Science, Innovation and Technology

Alice Frost

Director of Knowledge Exchange, Research England

Keynote Speakers

Alice Frost

Director of Knowledge Exchange, Research England

Robin Polding

Research Commercialisation Policy Lead, Department for Science, Innovation and Technology


Baroness Brown of Cambridge

Chair, House of Lords Science and Technology Committee

Baroness Neville-Jones


Clare Terlouw

Head of LifeArc Ventures

Nicola McConville

Partner, Mishcon de Reya

Henry Whorwood

Head of Research and Consultancy, Beauhurst

Dr Simonetta Manfredi

Professor of Equality and Diversity Management and Director of Research, Innovation and Enterprise, Oxford Brookes University

Tomas Ulrichsen

Director, Policy Evidence Unit for University Commercialisation and Innovation, University of Cambridge

Dr Benjamin Miles

Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Spin Up Science

David Russell

Chief Executive Officer, Praxis Auril

Dr Ananay Aguilar

Head, TenU

Professor Richard Hague

Director, Centre of Additive Manufacturing, University of Nottingham

Dr David McBeth

Vice-Principal of Enterprise and Economic Transformation, University of Dundee

Nick Smailes

Commercial Director, Faraday Institution

Professor Claude Wischik

Executive Chairman and Co-Founder, TauRx Therapeutics

Dr Anna Vartapetiance

Chief Executive Officer, Director and Founder, Securium