University-business partnerships down by a third, says NCUB report

NCUB’s State of the Relationship report shows a decline in university-business partnerships

University-business collaboration will be critical to the UK’s success (post pandemic)”, this year’s National Centre for Universities and Business’ (NCUB) annual State of the Relationship (SotR) report concludes.

The report, which is designed to track long-term trends in collaboration between universities and businesses, found there were almost 80,000 interactions between the two in 2019/2020 – a decline of 31%. 

In the same period, UK business investment in university research and development (R&D) fell by 7% showing the effects of the pandemic on university-business collaborations.

2021 has not only demonstrated the importance of collaboration but has also renewed a sense of optimism that science can lead to solutions to pressing challenges – Joe Marshall, NCUB

Despite a decline in R&D investment and university-business collaborations, the report affirms the pandemic has only demonstrated further the importance of these relationships, in a time of tremendous potential.

Joe Marshall, chief executive at NCUB, said: “2021 has not only demonstrated the importance of collaboration but has also renewed a sense of optimism that science can lead to solutions to pressing challenges.

“The UK, as well as other countries around the world, recognise that this decade should be defined by major strides in innovation.”

In fact, the report shows a 30% increase in the number of licenses granted and a 9% increase in patents granted, particularly in healthcare and technology – this suggests that in the midst of a global pandemic and climate crisis, collaboration and innovation, especially within science and technology, will be important.

George Freeman MP, minister for science, research and innovation, said: “Around the world, digital technologies, climate change and the longer-term effects of Covid-19 are changing the way we live and work, in ways we could not predict just a generation ago. This report plays a valuable part in informing those of us tasked with the responsibility of creating the conditions for innovation to thrive and ideas to be built upon.”

About the State of Relationship Report

The State of the Relationship Report is published annually. Commisioned by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the report showcases the collaborations between universities and businesses across the UK, identifying emerging trends through 25 metrics. The 2021 report is the eighth edition of the State of the Relationship report.


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