According to data collected by the University Companies Association, or Unico, in the last five years 30 university spin-outs have been floated with a flotation valuation of £1.5 billion. The number of spin-out companies formed rose from 232 in 2004-05 to 261 in 2005-06.
Universities’ approach to the issue varies. Some, such as Cambridge, are keen to encourage their staff to set up spin-outs—Nottingham also has a strong record in this respect—but others are keener to secure the proceeds of success themselves. Have the Government a view on which approach is best, and has there been any attempt to issue best-practice guidelines?
We do not yet have an approach that we advise universities to adopt as best practice, although in a speech at the Universities UK conference in September I said that we needed to discuss how universities and wider society could best capture the benefits of the intellectual property that is developed in universities. We will discuss the issue over the year, but if my hon. Friend will forgive me I will not commit myself to producing guidance until we are sure that the current diverse approach is not a better way of allowing universities to find a way forward. We will, however, continue to invest in the higher education innovation fund which has enabled many universities to exploit innovation so successfully.