Universities contribute £3.3bn to UK economy

University library Graduates established more than 2,800 new businesses

Universities contributed £3.3bn to the UK economy in the 2010-11 academic year despite widespread economic uncertainty, a report says.

And analysis by England's higher education funding body Hefce said a new company was created for every £24m in research funding.

This is less than half the £56m US price-tag for similar spin-off firms.

The report added that the value of UK knowledge exchange was on the rise.

Analysis by Hefce suggests the total value of the services UK universities provided to the economy increased by 7% in 2010-11 from £3.1bn in 2009-10.

'Important role'

Spending on university services by large companies also grew 7% from £587m in 2009-10 to £629m in 2010-11.

The report also found that 268 new businesses were set up as a result of research carried out by UK universities. These firms employed 18,000 people.

And graduates established more than 2,800 enterprises, building on knowledge and experience gained while studying.

Hefce chief executive Sir Alan Langlands said higher education was clearly delivering on the government's ambition of building up income from university knowledge exchange.

Universities Minister David Willetts said the increase in new start-up firms by staff and recent graduates highlights the "important role that universities have in creating a more entrepreneurial society".

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