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Edinburgh 4th in UK for industrial engagement


The University of Edinburgh has risen five places in the annual UK survey of business and community engagement.

Figures from Research England’s Higher Education Business and Community Interaction (HE-BCI) survey show that Edinburgh rose five places, to fourth, compared to 2018, when it was in ninth place. It continues an upward trend for the University, which was 15th in 2014.

Edinburgh lies behind Oxford, University College London and Manchester in the ranking of 160 higher education institutions.

HE-BCI figures record the economic value of a range of university activities with external organisations and communities. These include research collaborations with commercial and other partners, consultancy work, intellectual property income, economic development, facilities rental and continued professional development provision.

Edinburgh Innovations manages the University’s industry engagement and commercialisation activities. It identifies and supports activity across the University, and works closely with the public sector, charities and businesses of all sizes.

Dr George Baxter, CEO, Edinburgh Innovations said ” This really outstanding result is due to a great effort from across the University, including many academic and professional services staff. Behind the figures are a huge number of stories of our researchers addressing societal and commercial needs, turning the University’s work into real-world impact.”

Current collaborations that will be counted in this year’s HE-BCI survey include a wide range of projects to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

More than 50 such collaborations between University researchers and external bodies are currently underway. These include developing diagnostic tools and treatments for the disease, an app to support the mental health of care workers and a project to increase a company’s production of disinfectant.

Collaborations that feed into the HE-BCI figures are often financed by funding councils, sometimes with contributions by partner organisations, and by government funding schemes such as the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

The rise up the HE-BCI table comes as the University passes 50 years since its first commercialisation office was established in 1969 – the Centre for Industrial Consultancy and Liaison.

In January 2020, the University received its biggest ever industry investment, as part of a partnership agreement with Legal & General – the UK’s largest pension fund manager.

The £20m collaboration will establish the Advanced Care Research Centre, a seven-year multi-disciplinary research programme which aims to improve understanding of care needs for people as they age.

The partnership combines a range of academic disciplines including medicine and other care professions, life sciences, engineering, informatics, data and social sciences.