NCUB report shows strong university/business partnerships

But still more action needed to tackle challenges in 21st century knowledge-based economy

On the launch of the third review of the State of the Relationship (SoR) between businesses and universities, Sam Laidlaw, Chairman, and David Docherty, Chief Executive, of the National Centre for Universities and Business said: “Great work is being done, but we need to do more and be better if the UK is to take on the challenges of knowledge-based economies in the 21st century.”

Revealing the energy, inventiveness and persistence of partnerships across the UK, members and funders of the National Centre provide detailed insight into high quality co-operation through 46 case studies and 10 extended essays.

The National Centre’s Collaboration Progress Monitor shows that collaboration between universities, businesses and government in the UK is healthy and growing:

• Industry income for knowledge exchange in universities increased 6% to £896m in 2014, growing faster than public and third sector income.

• Only £300m of this came from R&D budgets, showing academic knowledge is valued across businesses, e.g. in operations, marketing, procurement, and HR.

• Foreign investment in universities and income from licensing grew faster than other sources, demonstrating the increasing value of UK collaboration.

• Universities recorded over 80,000 interactions with small and medium sized companies.

The report also reveals that:

• Digital, personal, and organisational networks increase activity and widen access to the benefits of collaboration.

• Collaborative talent development improves graduate employability, and smooths the labour market frictions that hinder innovation and business development.

• Devolution is a fertile ground for new placed-based collaborations.

• Collaboration in smart digital health is widespread across the UK and is at the cutting edge of competition in the knowledge economy.

The National Centre for Universities and Business is an independent and not-for-profit organisation that promotes, develops and supports university-business collaboration across the UK. The National Centre is the only organisation bringing together universities and business to influence government and solve the country’s challenges. 

Copies of the report are available here:




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