Sunday, 20 October 2013

University spinouts can prosper but we need long term financial instruments


Danny Fortson declares that turning university science projects into big companies is mostly impossible [Imperial needs to pick more winners, 13 October]. Yet the widely reported acquisition of Spirogen - a UCL spinout - by AstraZeneca for $460m last week shows that substantial returns to investors are possible from university research.

The lesson to be learned from such successes is that the most transformational university spinouts will need much longer than ten years of support to succeed - Spirogen for example was founded in 2001. The dearth of long term capital to support business propositions on such a timescale, reflects a market failure. 

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Witty review calls for more impact from universities

Sir Andrew Witty's independent review of how universities can support growth has been published, to general approval.

As you'd expect from one of the world's top business leaders who has taken GlaxoSmithKline into the apex of global pharmaceutical giants, Witty's review is thoughtful and packed with evidence and data. It is also reasonably focused with a relatively small number of thoughtful recommendations.