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University of Bradford in top quartile for spin-out companies


A laboratory jar filled with green liquid

Entrepreneurial spirit that’s driving the ‘4th industrial revolution’

The University of Bradford has been ranked 22nd in the Entrepreneurial Impact Rankings 2020, which track universities’ record at turning research into world-changing companies.

Simon King (PhD), partner at Octopus Ventures, which compiled the rankings, said: “In the UK we are lucky to have a high density of world class universities that spin out world-class businesses. These institutions are melting pots for smart people, technologies and ideas, the precursor to creating new companies. From our perspective as an investor in these types of companies, we know firsthand the positive economic and societal impact they can have.”

Examples of successful spin-out companies started by the University of Bradford include: Incanthera, which is developing a new chemical cancer therapeutic designed to attack all forms of solid tumours while leaving healthy tissue unharmed, Tangentix, which formed in 2009 and utilised mathematics to increase download compression for the console gaming industry and Acoustic Sensing Technology Limited, created in 2013, whose current flagship product, the SewerBatt™ inspection system, uses acoustics to identify issues within pipework. Perhaps one of the most successful spin-outs to date is CrystecPharma, which provides works with the pharmaceutical industry to make medicinal drugs more effective.

Commenting on the ranking, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic innovation and quality) Professor Zahir Irani said: “Spin-outs are the end result of extensive research and development across a broad range of sectors, from science-driven techniques that have medical applications to things like improving software and user interfaces. Taken as a whole - and this is reflected in our ranking - they represent the practical application of that knowledge, the end result of which is that people’s lives are ultimately improved, whether that’s working towards saving lives on the hospital ward or reducing the costs associated with a specific project, such as fixing damaged pipework.

“We’re proud of our industrial heritage here in Bradford and a clear focus on knowledge exchange. We are the birthplace of the first Industrial Revolution and just over a century and a half later we are helping pioneer the next phase in our economic evolution, using a fusion of technologies, developed by experts at our university, to help change the world for the better. We also work very hard to ensure that our curriculum benefits from our research which has a direct pathway to inform our learning and teaching content. This is part of our distinctive offer here at Bradford.”

The University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor with a portfolio covering Research, Innovation and Engagement, Professor John Bridgeman, said “This outcome is a testament to the hard work that has gone on between our academics and entrepreneurs over many years. That is a trend that is set to continue well into the future.  We are now rolling out our new Business and Community Engagement Strategy that will see the University open up even further to our communities and stakeholders.  We will be extending our offer of opportunities for students, staff and others to acquire entrepreneurial skills and establish commercial and social enterprises, developing local residents into leaders and attracting international talent to Bradford to become leaders of the future. We will continue to license and spin-out inventions made at the University, maximising positive social impact.”

In its annual report, Octopus Ventures says: “The economic and societal benefits of building spin-out companies are clear. Spin-out companies create jobs and are an excellent channel for ground-breaking technologies to have a positive impact on our lives.”

Writing for Research England, former deputy group CEO of financial services company Standard Chartered Mike Rees notes: “We are entering a very different economic phase driven by the 4th industrial revolution. It is about how you adapt the value of the research for broader economic and social well-being.”