Queen's tops table for UK university spinout success

L-R: John Murray, Techstart Ventures; Deva Senevirathne and Dr Darragh McArt, co-founders of Sonrai Analytics; Brian McCaul, QUBIS; and Stuart Gaffikin, Clarendon Fund Managers.
Ryan McAleer

QUEEN’S University has been ranked as the UK’s top third level institution for turning research into successful business ventures.

It’s the second year running that Queen’s has topped the Entrepreneurial Impact Rankings, coming in ahead of both Cambridge and Oxford.

The report, produced by Octopus Ventures, measures the effectiveness of universities in terms of their production of intellectual property, creation of spinout companies, and successful exits from such spinout companies, relative to their total funding.

Brian McCaul, who heads the university’s commercialisation arm QUBIS, said the report measured the spinout activity and investor returns over 10 years.

Notable spinouts from Queen’s include Kainos and Fusion Antibodies, both now listed with the London Stock Exchange.

Recent successes include ocular therapeutic and drug delivery specialist Re-Vana Therapeutics, which raised $3.25 million (£2.45m) from UK and US investors this year, while in March, data firm Titan IC was acquired by the Nasdaq-listed Mellanox Technologies.

This year also saw Sonrai Analytics secure £700,000 in seed funding and pHion Therapeutics announce a pre-clinical collaboration to develop an innovative therapy to treat Covid-19 patients.

“Whilst 2020 has been an extremely challenging year for many spinouts, particularly those seeking to raise equity, most ventures have been able to successfully progress and we are optimistic for what the future holds when we look at the quality of the commercialisation opportunities that continue to emerge from the research here at Queen’s,” said Mr McCaul.

According to the Octopus report, the spinouts that achieved the highest exit values were in artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing and life and medical sciences.

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