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Graduate start-ups at record levels

A record number of graduate start-up companies were formed last year, new figure show.

Data from the Higher Education Business and Community Interaction survey, published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, reveals a healthy entrepreneurial spirit across universities.

In 2013/14, 130 spin-offs were started with some higher education ownership, as well as 4,603 graduate start-ups - up from 3,441 the previous year and 2,729 in 2011/12.

For the first time the survey collected figures on social enterprises, identifying 229 as active, with 169 newly formed in the survey year.

In total, nearly 12,000 higher education related firms were active in 2013/14, employing more than 36,000 people.

Nearly £4 million of income was earned by higher education providers from business and community sources, a rise of about 10 per cent from 2012/13. Income was generated from activities such as consultancy, hire of facilities and intellectual property, collaborative research involving public money and contract research, which was the more lucrative source.

“The results show the extent to which higher education providers are embedded in the economy and communities in the UK,” a report on the findings said.

The 2013/14 data covers 161 HE providers - 130 in England, nine in Wales, 18 in Scotland and four in Northern Ireland.