Octopus report

Dundee tops list of UK university spin-outs

Prof Andrew Hopkins: founder of Exscienta

Three Scottish universities are among the smaller institutions named in a new report on successful spin-outs.

Dundee has been identified as the highest achiever, while Edinburgh Napier and Strathclyde also appear in the Entrepreneurial Impact report compiled by Octopus Ventures.

Six of the top ten in the venture capital company’s rankings lie outside the “golden triangle” of Oxford, Cambridge and London.

Exscientia, a Dundee spinout that uses artificial intelligence to reduce the time it takes to develop medicines, became one of the UK’s biggest university exits when it went public in New York in 2021, securing a valuation of £2.2 billion. Founded in 2012 by Prof Andrew Hopkins, chairman of Medicinal Informatics in the School of Life Sciences at Dundee University, it is now based in Oxford.

Amy Nommeots-Nomm of Octopus Ventures said. “Making money as an academic was seen as a bit crude, but now there is this want to have an impact from your research and the momentum is changing.”

David McBeth, vice-principal of enterprise and economic transformation at the University of Dundee, said: “This recognition is fantastic news and a testament to the many years of hard work undertaken to create a thriving entrepreneurial culture here.

“The main foundations of our success are world-leading life and biomedical sciences research and innovative researchers.

“At a time when there is a lot of chatter about standardising spinout arrangements, we pride ourselves on fostering great relationships with investors and founding teams and treating each company according to its individual circumstances.”

Queen’s University Belfast, which recently recorded its 100th spinout, came second in the rankings, just above the University of Cambridge.

Ms Nommeots-Nomm conceded that the effects of Brexit and the pandemic were still feeding through to innovation.

She said that during research for the report, “institutions outside the golden triangle voiced a key challenge in trying to retain spinouts in their regions.

“This is often difficult due to a lack of local talent, space and infrastructure they need as they scale.”

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