UCL, working in partnership with ten of the world’s top universities, has been awarded a share of £1.5 million in two grants from The Research England Development (RED) Fund to share and develop improved approaches to commercialising university research for societal and economic benefit, both internationally and in the UK.
The grants support two programmes - TenU and a new Policy Evidence Unit for University Commercialisation and Innovation (UCI). The funds for both grants will be administered by the University of Cambridge.
UCL is part of TenU, a leading practitioner group, which will use its expertise to develop, improve and share best practice in commercialising research. It brings together the heads of the world’s leading technology transfer organisations (TTOs) at ten top universities - Cambridge (UK), Columbia (USA), Edinburgh (UK), Imperial College London (UK), Leuven (Belgium), Manchester (UK), MIT (USA), Oxford (UK), Stanford (USA) - and UCL (UK).
The UK Government has identified universities as key drivers of innovation, and university TTOs are playing a significant role in translating research-based innovations into services and products.
Research from these universities has led to many world changing innovations - including UCL’s rapid programmed T cell therapies which has seen scientists at UCL identifying how a discovery in immune cells holds the key to powerful therapies against cancer.
UCL is among the top three universities (HEBCI 2018/19) in the UK for translating its knowledge, with over 25 years of success in taking this know-how externally to generate returns and societal benefit. UCLB’s track record includes supporting the creation of UCL spinouts that have raised over £1.5bn in the last 10 years.
Recent HEBCI figures for 2018/19 show UCL spinout companies attracted external investment of £579m - which is more than any other university in the country. Covering a spectrum of conditions to develop life-changing medical solutions, UCL’s spinout advanced gene therapy highlights include Freeline Ltd, Autolus Therapeutics Ltd, Orchard Therapeutics and MeiraGTx.
As part of the COVID-19 effort, breathing aids were developed by engineers at UCL in partnership with Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains working with clinicians at UCLH which are now being used in over 40 NHS hospitals across the country. The designs for these lifesaving breathing aids have also been made freely available through the UCLB E-Lucid express licensing platform and have been downloaded by licensees in over 105 countries around the world.
Dr Celia Caulcott, Vice-Provost, (Enterprise) said: "UCL is delighted to be part of the TenU group and to receive this support. This will enable us to identify and disseminate proven approaches as we work to take technologies all the way from proof of concept through to commercialisation. UCLB is playing a vital role in our drive to translate the breakthrough ideas developed by UCL’s talented researchers into applications and products to benefit society and the economy. With our world-class innovation ecosystem, we are already seeing the economic and societal benefits we can achieve building on UCL’s world-class research."
Dr Anne Lane, CEO, UCLB said: "UCLB, as the commercialisation company for UCL and its leading research, is well placed to contribute to the TenU group. We will share our insights, translational expertise and track record of working with UCL’s researchers to identify and protect promising new technologies and innovations to help maximise the TenU group’s research, findings and recommendations. In turn, TenU’s findings will help us to continue offering UCL’s talented teams outstanding support."
David Sweeney, Executive Chair, Research England, said: "In line with the UK Government’s R&D Roadmap, Research England as part of UK Research and Innovation needs to demonstrate we are world class at securing economic and social benefits from research. University technology transfer is at the heart of that. Research England funding for TenU will help showcase best practice at the global cutting edge, with the new UCI policy unit providing critical evidence and metrics. We look forward to deepening these international links".