Sussex recognised for spin-out success in Government assessment
By: Alice Ingall
Last updated: Wednesday, 28 September 2022
The University of Sussex has performed strongly on the success of its spin-out companies in the 2022 Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF 2) results, receiving the top rating of 'very high engagement' for the external investment and turnover of Sussex's research-based businesses.
The KEF 2 is the second annual review from Research England assessing universities on their work with businesses, the public sector and communities, entrepreneurship and in driving local economic growth through knowledge exchange enterprises.
Sussex was also highly rated for its Research and Development work for both businesses and for the public and third sector, which includes consultancy and contract research, again receiving the top 'very high engagement' rating and performing above average for its peer group cluster in both areas. For the KEF, universities are grouped in comparable clusters, with Sussex in ‘Cluster X’, which features other UK broad-discipline research intensive universities recognised for the world-leading quality of their research.
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex, Professor Sasha Roseneil says: “The University of Sussex is a place of enormous creativity and invention - an ideas lab, where rigorous research leads to new knowledge and ways of doing things. Our academics are doing world-leading research and are committed to mobilising their research for the common good, working closely with partners in business, government, and the community to turn great ideas into action. Engaging for change is key to our University Strategy.
“We are particularly proud of the success of our spin-out companies and graduate start-ups, which create revenue and jobs for local people. I am delighted that the bold and enterprising spirit of Sussex has been recognised by our excellent performance in this year's Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF2).”
Sussex’s 115 graduate and academic start-ups, last year enjoyed a combined turnover of £32m – an increase of one and three quarters times the volume of trade compared to only two years ago, when the KEF first started – and they now support 470 jobs, providing employment for 150 more people than two years ago.
Sussex start-ups include: Universal Quantum, which is building a large-scale trapped ion quantum computer in University of Sussex labs in Brighton and at its Haywards Heath Head Quarters; Metasonixx, which is developing pioneering acoustic metamaterials technology with a range of applications including in medical settings; and Stingray Bio, which is developing new therapies for breast cancer.
Professor of Quantum Technologies at the University of Sussex and Chief Scientist and Co-founder of Universal Quantum, Winfried Hensinger says of the success of Sussex’s spin-out businesses in the KEF 2: “The support and enthusiasm we’ve received from the University of Sussex for Universal Quantum has been instrumental in establishing a research-based business that is helping to put Sussex and the UK on the world-stage for the development of cutting-edge quantum technologies.
“It’s exciting to work at a university that recognises the importance of taking research to industry, and – crucially – is willing to invest in it.”
Sussex researchers working with business and the public sector include: Professor Anotida Madzvamuse, who, along with his research group in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, developed Halogen, a forecasting tool for healthcare planners to predict the impact of Covid on intensive care demand and capacity; and Dr Phil Birch, Reader in Engineering at the University, along with Daniel Roggen, Professor in Wearable Technologies, who have provided research consultancy for Sussex-based company Gunnebo, to improve security gate technology in airports and businesses.
Other areas of significant improvement have been in the University of Sussex’s participation in programmes to drive local economic growth and community engagement, such as RISE, a business innovation programme run in partnership with the University of Brighton to inject specialist expertise into small and medium sized businesses across West Sussex to support their growth. These latest gains result from the extra £1.3m of investment from the University into these areas stemming from its recent ‘Sussex 2025’ strategy.
Director of Innovation and Business Partnerships at the University of Sussex, Dr Sue Baxter says of the KEF 2 results: “I’m delighted that the KEF 2 recognises the entrepreneurial spirit of our Sussex researchers and the real impact that they are having in society through innovative start-ups and collaborations with our key public and private sector partners. These strong KEF results highlight the real-world impact of Sussex research in driving innovation and bringing positive societal change.”