Skip to main content

Medical Research Council

Volume 404: debated on Monday 28 April 2003

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how many of the unsuccessful alpha plus rated research grant applications to the Medical Research Council could have been awarded if an additional £8.1 million of funds were available; [107422](2) what the definition of commercial exploitation is in the accounts of the Medical Research Council; and for what reason the level of commercial exploitation in the MRC account has increased by 40 per cent. [107421]

The term "commercial exploitation" is used to cover all the activities concerning the exploitation of the intellectual property generated from research within the Medical Research Council's own institutes and units. It therefore covers the income received from licensing MRC's intellectual property and also any payments made in relation to these activities. The majority of expenditure reported in their accounts is covered under items 1 and 2 as follows and arises as a direct consequence of the revenues generated by MRC inventions, and received by the MRC, in the previous financial year. The main items of expenditure are:

  • 1. Payments to the budgets of "originating" MRC units and inventors under the "awards to inventors" scheme—a scheme similar in scope to those operated by most UK Universities and designed to provide incentives for MRC units and staff to assist in the identification, protection and exploitation of inventions.
  • 2. Payments of revenue shares to external bodies who have licensed rights to the MRC in return for share of income.
  • 3. The management fee paid to MRC Technology (the company affiliated to the MRC which manages MRC intellectual property).
  • 4. Fees for patents and legal costs relating to MRC inventions.
  • Overall, the MRC's exploitation activities are a net contributor to MRC funding in universities and MRC units.In 2001–02 there was a 40 per cent. increase in expenditure on commercial exploitation due to exceptional payments under MRC's revenue sharing schemes. This reflects, in part, the exceptionally high income in 2000–01 resulting from the sale of part of MRC's shareholding in Cambridge Antibody Technology.It is difficult to put a figure on the number of grants that could have been funded had an additional £8.1 million been available as grant applications vary considerably in length, cost per year and total cost.