Report underlines economic returns on public investment in science
11 Feb 2024
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council-commissioned research estimates that the organisation has supported more than 450 spin-outs that have contributed £5.2 billion to the UK economy over a quarter century.
The independent review by Cambridge Policy Consultants examined the period 1997-2021 and studied a total of 457 spin-outs that had previously received subsidy for research.
Chair of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and BBSRC council member Steve Bagshaw said:
“This report demonstrates the huge potential of bioscience research to boost growth across the UK economy. The companies receiving funding from BBSRC have created thousands of jobs and are helping to improve lives right across the UK.
“Their innovation will continue to drive beneficial change and help to create a more sustainable, healthier future for us all.”
The studied also identified that in the 2021/22 financial year, more than 400 of the spin-outs were employing more than 8,000 people, with 29% working in health services, 22% in pharmaceuticals and 21% in biotech. Other significant markets included agriculture and food manufacturing which both accounted for more than 10%.
Geographical distribution showed a slight majority of funded spin-outs were located in the capital, the south east and east of England but nearly half were situated outside these areas.
BBSRC interim executive chair, professor Guy Poppy said that while much of the transformative research BBSRC funds often remained unseen in public, its impact remained considerable.
“From the conversion of agricultural waste products into biodegradable plastics, the creation of novel biomaterials for construction to the development of bio-inspired adhesives for use in surgical practices, BBSRC's commitment to supporting innovative and interdisciplinary research is unwavering,” he commented.
“As we navigate the complexities of the modern world, the hidden work funded by the BBSRC is quietly laying the foundation for a healthier, more sustainable future while boosting economic growth and prosperity right across the UK.”
Among the case studies highlighted in the report are: University of Glasgow SOLASTA Bio developing alternatives to traditional chemical insecticides; Newcastle University-founded Newcells Biotech work on 3D in-vitro models of human organs for modelling drug outcomes; and University of Oxford spin-out HydRegen’s work on energy-efficient clean chemical manufacturing.