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How do HE providers engage with business and communities?

HE Provider Data How do HE providers engage with business and communities?

On this page: Business and community services | Social, community and cultural engagement | Intellectual property | Regeneration and development | Strategies, approaches and infrastructures

Universities and colleges are embedded in the economy and communities of the UK.

This page provides information about the nature and volume of interactions that HE providers have with businesses and wider communities. Information is taken from an annual survey: The Higher Education – Business and Community Interaction (HE-BCI) survey. This survey collects data on providers’ ‘third-stream’ or ‘knowledge exchange’ activities (that is, activities concerned with the generation, use, application and exploitation of knowledge and other capabilities outside of academic environments).


Chart 2 - Income from business and community interactions

2014/15 to 2016/17



Business and community services

The table below shows the number and value of contracts that HE providers have with companies to deliver consultancy, research, or facilities and equipment related services. Use the ‘Type of service’ drop-down to select which data to view. You can access the whole data set by selecting ‘Download source data’.

How are previous year's figures reported?

As part of the most recent data submission, HE providers are able to restate previous year's figures. So, for example, the 2016/17 submission includes restated figures for 2015/16. Unless noted otherwise, previous year's figures in these tables use the restated figures.

Table 2a - Business and community services by HE provider

2014/15 to 2016/17

What do we mean by SME? How do we categorise organisations?

The tables on this page include data about HE providers' engagements with non-academic businesses and organisations. We categorise these organisations into the following groups: 

  • Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) includes enterprises which employ fewer than 250 persons and which have an annual turnover not exceeding EUR 50 million, and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding EUR 43 million. SMEs include micro, small and medium enterprises and sole traders.
  • Other (non-SME) commercial businesses includes other commercial businesses which do not match the above definition of SMEs.
  • Non-commercial organisations includes organisations from which shareholders or trustees do not benefit financially.

HE providers offer courses to upskill and develop workforces and to enhance the employability and professional skills of individuals. The next table records income from these courses, as well as the number of learner days delivered.

Table 2b - Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and Continuing Education (CE) courses for business and the community by HE provider

2014/15 to 2016/17



The following table shows the value of contributions to publicly funded research from collaboration with non-academic organisations. The value of these collaborations can be in cash or ‘in kind’ (for example staff time, use of equipment, provision of data, etc.). Use the drop-down to filter by source of public funding.

Table 1 - Income from collaborative research involving public funding by HE provider

2015/16 to 2016/17

What is collaborative research, and what sources of public funding are included?

Collaborative Income is returned for research projects which have public sponsorship (grant in aid from a government or public body) to support research performed in collaboration with at least one other non-academic organisation (collaborator). Collaborative research with other HE providers is not included. 'Collaborative research' must involve:

  • Grant-in-aid from at least one public body, and
  • A material contribution (which may be cash or 'in-kind' if specified in the collaborative agreement and auditable) from at least one external non-academic collaborator.

The term 'non-academic organisation (collaborator)' should be understood to refer to charities, public and not-for-profit organisations as well as commercial business.

The following sources of public funding are included:

  • BEIS research councils includes all research income from the research councils sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, The Royal Society, British Academy and The Royal Society of Edinburgh. These are:
    • AHRC - Arts and Humanities Research Council
    • BBSRC - Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
    • EPSRC - Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
    • ESRC - Economic and Social Research Council
    • MRC - Medical Research Council
    • NERC - Natural Environment Research Council
    • STFC - Science and Technology Facilities Council plus other income from The Royal Society, British Academy and The Royal Society of Edinburgh.
  • Other UK Government departments includes income from other UK government departments and includes income from Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs).
  • EU Government includes all research income from all government bodies operating in the EU, which includes the European Commission but excludes bodies in the UK.
  • Other includes charities, public and not-for-profit organisations as well as commercial businesses.

Social, community and cultural engagement

HE providers deliver a range of public events, such as lectures, performance festivals and exhibitions. The table below details the scale of these public events. The ‘Metric’ filter allows you to view the impact of these events in terms of the number of attendees or the amount of academic staff time. You can also switch between viewing free or chargeable events.

Table 5 - Social, community and cultural engagement: Designated public events by HE provider

2014/15 to 2016/17

What type of public events are captured?

The data on public events includes the following type of activities:

  • Public lectures includes attendee and academic staff time associated with lectures that are open to the public.
  • Performance arts (music, dance, drama, etc.) includes performances of music, dance, and the dramatic arts.
  • Exhibitions (galleries, museums, etc.) includes permanent and temporary exhibitions held at museums and galleries owned by the reporting HE provider.
  • Museum education includes all forms of museum education held at museums and galleries owned by the reporting HE provider, including lectures, workshops and children's clubs.
  • Other includes alternative public events held by the HE provider, which cannot be categorised above. This can include viewing and listening figures for television and radio programmes produced by HE providers, and downloads from their websites.

Intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP) includes patents, copyrights, design registrations and trademarks. IP is a vital indicator for understanding the impact and value added by HE providers working with external partners. The tables that follow demonstrate the scale of IP generated by HE providers.

Table 4a - Intellectual property: Disclosures and patents filed by or on behalf of the HE provider

2014/15 to 2016/17



The table below shows licences granted. The drop-down allows you to switch between viewing non-software or software only licences granted.

Table 4b - Intellectual property: Licence numbers (including patents, copyright, design, registration and trade marks) by HE provider

2014/15 to 2016/17



Income from intellectual property

These two tables detail the income that HE providers receive from intellectual property. The first table breaks down this income by type of organisation and source of income (whether from software licences, non-software licences, or other IP income sources). The second table provides total income figures.

Table 4c - Intellectual property income (including patents, copyright, design, registration and trade marks) by HE provider

2014/15 to 2016/17




Table 4d - Total intellectual property income (including patents, copyright, design, registration and trade marks) by HE provider

2014/15 to 2016/17



Spin-offs and start-up companies

The following table and chart show spin-offs and start-up companies based on HE providers’ intellectual property, or started by their staff, students or graduates.

What do we mean by spin-offs and start-ups?

Spin-offs are companies set-up to exploit IP that has originated from within the HE providers.

  • Spin-offs with some HE provider ownership are companies set-up to exploit IP that has originated from within the HE provider, where the HE provider continues to have some ownership.
  • Formal spin-offs, not HE provider-owned are companies set-up based on IP that has originated from within the HE provider but where the HE provider has released ownership (usually through the sale of shares and/or IP).
  • Staff start-ups are companies set-up by active (or recent) HE provider staff but not based on IP from the HE provider.
  • Graduate start-ups include all new business started by recent graduates (within two years) regardless of where any IP resides, but only where there has been formal business/enterprise support from the HE provider.
  • Social enterprises include organisations that rate their success on their social outcomes equally or more than their commercial outcomes

Table 4e - Intellectual property: Spin-off activities by HE provider

2014/15 to 2016/17




Chart 1 - Spin-offs and start-up companies

2014/15 to 2016/17



Regeneration and development

Regeneration funding is a way for HE providers to invest intellectual assets in economic, physical and socially beneficial projects. This table shows income from public bodies allocating regeneration funds.

Table 3 - Income from regeneration and development programmes by HE provider

2014/15 to 2016/17



Strategies, approaches and infrastructures

This table presents the full results of the HE-BCI Part A qualitative survey. This section of the survey asks HE providers how they plan, resource and prioritise business and community interactions. Use the radio buttons to select a survey topic, and the drop-down to select individual survey questions.


Table A - Strategies, approaches and infrastructures by HE provider

2015/16 - 2016/17


Q1: In which areas do you see your HE provider as a whole making the greatest contribution to economic development? (All areas)