The University of Manchester (UoM) welcomes the Independent Review of University Spinout Companies published today (21st November).

Professor Irene Tracey and Dr Andrew Williamson have set out the important contribution that UK universities are making to the economy and society through commercialisation of intellectual property generated by their research.

They have recognised the multiple set of actors and processes that need to combine in a successful innovation ecosystem to support founders in the journey from invention to forming a spinout and then successfully scaling up the company. The Review’s recommendations provide important guidance on the pathway to building a world-leading innovation ecosystem that takes full advantage of national strengths across all of  areas of research excellence and of the UoM’s regions.

The University will review its intellectual property policies and practice, in collaboration with their partners in the Northern Gritstone investment company, which was established as a positive response to the high concentration of VC funding in London to provide VC funding in the North. UoM recognises the distinction the report makes between intellectual property intensive areas such as the life sciences and the simpler pathway for some software commercialisation. The University welcomes the recommendation that the starting point in negotiations should be terms set out in the USIT (University Spin-out Investment Terms) Guide produced by the TenU group of national and international leaders in university research commercialisation (of which the University of Manchester Innovation Factory is a member).

Examples of successful UoM spinouts include:

  • Complement Therapeutics (CTx), founded in 2021 to develop the treatment of a leading cause of blindness and other complement-related diseases. The company has been through two funding rounds raising €77m to work on clinical proof-of-concept. This recently won the Series A Finance Raise of the Year at the European Lifestars Awards.
  • Holiferm, founded in 2018 which develops processes to manufacture sustainable biosurfactant products for use at commercial scale and has recently opened a commercial plant on a 90,000 sq ft site in Wallasey.
  • Watercycle Technologies currently in its second investment round which produces advanced membranes and innovative filtration systems for the production of valuable minerals (including Lithium) and clean water.

The University also supports student start-ups (typically 35 a year with 280 in operation, an 80% long-term survival rate) through our Masood Entrepreneurship Centre. Students own their IP so concerns about equity stakes are irrelevant for this important part of the landscape.

A recent example of success is:

UoM spinouts benefit from the innovation ecosystem the University is working with partners to build including: