Inga Sileryte

Inga Sileryte, Research Officer, National Centre for Universities and Business

The National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) is an independent, not-for-profit membership organisation that promotes, develops and supports university-business collaboration across the UK.

Following publication of the 2016 Collaboration Progress Monitor, we invited Inga Sileryte, Research Officer at the NCUB, to look at how Scottish universities are faring with business engagement across the UK.

As we approach the end of this year, it’s a good time to take a look at what the latest data tell us about progress in university-business collaboration in Scotland.

At the National Centre we use 12 metrics for tracking collaboration in Scotland, drawing on information from the Higher Education-Business and Community Interaction Survey (HE-BCI), Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), and Innovate UK.

The spider chart above provides a snapshot of different collaboration activities taking place in Scotland, such as graduate employment in innovation active sectors, or Innovate UK grants for academic partners. The purple line indicates how each of the 12 collaboration metrics performed in 2015: if the line goes inside the black dotted line, this particular indicator is below its four-year average (e.g. size of deals between Scottish universities and large companies); if the line is outside the dotted area, the indicator is performing better than in previous years (e.g. university spin-offs that survive for more than three years).

On the whole, Scottish collaboration landscape is largely stable with most indicators getting close to a four-year average, and with increasing commercialisation activity demonstrated by the growing income from licensing, higher number of licenses granted and university spin-offs active after three years of creation.

While the spider chart captures only a small part of Scotland's universities engagement with business and only a small part of their impact on industry, it can be used as a tool to identify areas of collaboration to watch looking forward.

Let’s, for example, have a closer look at Industry Income for KE. This indicator tracks business income from knowledge exchange as a share of total external income received by universities (specifically, it draws on HE-BCI data on contract research, consultancy, CPD, and facilities).

The table below shows that the total external income at Scottish universities grew from £211m to £223m in 2015, an increase of 6 per cent. A greater share of that increase, however, comes from public and third sector organisations, while the income from businesses grew slower (SMEs), or even declined last year (large businesses); the collaboration monitor therefore shows that the industry income is declining.

External Income from Business to Universities in Scotland (£m) (HE-BCI, 2016)
Source of Income 2010/11  2011/12  2012/13  2013/14  2014/15
Large businesses 106.18  90.30   97.84   93.12   90.38
SMEs 25.89  34.97   29.41   28.36   28.64
Public and third-sector organisations  92.23  94.67   94.05   89.78   104.83
TOTAL 224.30  219.95   221.30   211.26   223.85

We will continue to monitor closely developments in the Scottish collaboration landscape next year as new data becomes available; and we are always looking for feedback and suggestions on how to improve a next version of the collaboration monitor for Scotland. Should you have any ideas you would like to share with us, please get in touch with

For more details on data behind the collaboration monitor, browse through the full dataset data at:

08 December 2016