The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) estimates that last year universities contributed £3.3 billion (€ 4.2 billion) to the British economy through "commercialisation of new knowledge, delivery of professional training, consultancy and services". This represents an increase by 7% over 2009-2010.
In its most recent report, HEFCE argues that universities have significantly boosted knowledge exchange in the UK. David Willets, Universities and Science Minister, comments on these findings and emphasizes the "important role [of higher education] in creating a more entrepreneurial society".
Universities in the UK contributed £3.3 billion to the economy in 2010-11 through services to business, including commercialisation of new knowledge, delivery of professional training, consultancy and services.
These comprise part of a much wider economic impact.
Analysis by HEFCE of the eleventh annual Higher Education - Business and Community Interaction survey shows that the total value of the services which UK universities provide to the economy and society increased by 7 per cent in 2010-11, from £3.1 billion in 2009-10 to £3.3 billion.
Despite wider economic uncertainty, spending on university services by large business increased by 7 per cent, from £587 million in 2009-10 to £629 million in 2010-11. Universities are stimulating economic growth and contributing to public services and society.
The report, published today, finds encouraging signs of the rising value of UK knowledge exchange . This is illustrated by increases in income to universities from facilities and equipment - such as wind tunnels or digital media suites - where income grew by 12 per cent over the previous year, to £129 million in 2010-11.
1,262 spin-off companies
David Willetts Minister for Universities and Science said:
"Universities and industry working together are making a substantial contribution to the UK's economic growth. The latest analysis shows that external income to the higher education sector from business and other users has continued to increase, despite the challenging economic environment, to over £3.3 billion."
"Today's increase in the number of new start-up companies by staff and recent graduates of higher education institutions also highlights the important role that universities have in creating a more entrepreneurial society."