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April 7, 2021 | News

Research and Innovation – A Winning Combination

Research and Innovation – A Winning Combination

An innovative community hosted by a university with a focus on Research and Innovation leads to unparalleled success for everyone.

Having commissioned an independent economics report in 2020, Tim Riches, Head of Finance and Marketing at the Surrey Research Park, demonstrates the extent an innovative community hosted by a University leads to mutual success for all.

Surrey Research Park is home to more than 170 science and technology companies, ranging from start-ups, micro-companies and SMEs owned and led by entrepreneurs, to large multinationals. They form the bedrock of the University of Surrey’s innovation ecosystem.

Research and Innovation – keeping ahead of the competition

Companies based on science parks have always been ahead of the competition. Research has highlighted that the overall commercial performance of science park tenants is significantly better than companies not based on a science park, with higher growth rates, enhanced growth in employment and increased productivity with more products launched, and easier access to finance.

In addition, a science park location adds to the company’s overall credibility and image, enabling them to better attract investment, new business and a greater
proportion of qualified scientists and engineers.

The commercialisation of research and innovation the creation of a “knowledge ecosystem” between a university and an innovative business community is a winning combination.

We were astounded to learn the heights this value proposition has reached for our tenants as well as the university and our regional community. The Scottish analytical firm BiGGAR Economics found in its 2020 study:

  • The Gross Value Added (GVA) per job filled at the Surrey Research Park is £102,000 — almost double the national average of £56,400.
  • The science park improves job prospects, by providing demand for graduate skills, helping to attract staff to the university and attract companies that can be collaborative research partners.
  • There are more than 4,000 jobs on the Park and over 7,000 jobs created in the region as a result.
  • The park not only provides the University of Surrey with diversified income, it significantly strengthens the university’s economic importance to Guildford and the region, spending over £1 billion every year and delivering £620 million gross value added (GVA) to the economy.
  • Responding to challenges of the pandemic, the University of Surrey was able to help companies based on the Surrey Research Park with access to
    £250,000 of funding in grants and equity investments. This support for the struggling local SME community would not have been available to companies outside a university innovation ecosystem.

Future Growth

Currently Surrey county’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is worth £44 billion: that’s 14% of the South East’s economy and remains on target to increase by 10% in 2025. A major factor to this success is the high-skills workforce attracted to areas of innovation such as the Surrey Research Park.

The county’s working population has risen 10% in the past decade. With improved connectivity, we should see a 4% growth over the next five years according to the international group BNP Paribas Real Estate.

In the wake of a pandemic, these future growth predictions have greater traction when delivery is led by innovative flexible entrepreneurs who are connected to a resourceful and stable university. Indeed, the growth of the university’s research and innovation is also inextricably linked to their success. The current strategy aims to double the university’s commercialisation activities by 2022.

The BiGGAR report concludes:

Universities are key to the success of a science park, because they often form the core of the parks, acting as an anchor.

However, we should equally appreciate how science parks are key to the success of a university.

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