Economic impact


An economic impact report by independent consultancy BiGGAR Economics shows that the University of Edinburgh’s commercialisation activities contribute more than £200 million to the global economy each year.

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Economic impact of commercialisation report

The BiGGAR Economics report, which was commissioned by Edinburgh Innovations (EI), the university’s commercialisation arm, looked into the economic impact of the major commercialisation activities, such as forming new companies and licensing university technology.

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Creating sustainable new enterprises

One of the main ways in which the University's research activity is translated into economic activity is when new spin-out or start-up businesses are created in order to exploit research outputs commercially.

Over the years the University of Edinburgh has developed an impressive list of spin-outs and start-ups spanning a very wide range of sectors from microelectronics to creative arts and bio-technology to tourism.

Of the 262 spinout and start-up companies formed at the University since the 1960s, a remarkable 81% (or 213) of these companies remain active today, generating over £158M to the global economy and employing over 2,700 staff.

Of these active companies, 190 (89%) are located in Scotland, employing an estimated 2,181 staff in industries including electronics, bio-technology, engineering and tourism.

Licensing intellectual property

Research activity is also translated into economic activity through licensing agreements between the University and industry, which gives companies the legal right to use a particular patented technology or other type of intellectual property right (IPR) to generate additional sales, reduce costs or otherwise improve their profitability. In return, companies pay the University royalties or licence fees.

The University of Edinburgh holds licence agreements with 71 different companies and organisations for technologies around the world, spanning a wide range of sectors, such as Biotech & pharma, Semiconductors & electronics, Software and Media & entertainment.

In 2010/11, the total value of licence income and royalties amounted to £3 million. The report calculated that for every £1 million in royalty income received by the University, the licensee companies will be making at least £12 million in increased turnover as a result.

Supporting employment

The report’s findings also showed that the combined impact of the University of Edinburgh's commercialisation activities (such as licencing, company spin-outs and start-ups) supports approximately 3,600 jobs around the world.

Over 2,400 of these jobs are based in Scotland and directly contribute to the Scottish economy.

Download the report

The Economic Impact Report was published by BiGGAR Economics in May 2012 and is available to download as a PDF document.

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