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ICR top in UK for commercial earnings for the second year running

The ICR logo on the exterior of the Brookes Lawley Building in Sutton

Image: The ICR's Brookes Lawley Building

The Institute of Cancer Research, London has been ranked as the most successful higher education institution in the country at earning invention income from its research, for the second year running.

The ICR's intellectual property (IP) income was more than £24 million for 2016/17 - £5 million more than the next-placed University of Cambridge with IP income of around £19 million.

The ICR has consistently topped the list as the highest earner when adjusted for our smaller size.

Last year, we topped the list outright for the first time with £64 million in income. This was thanks in large part to a one-off payment made for the prostate drug abiraterone which was discovered at the ICR.

Even without this one-off sale we would have topped the 2015/16 list by several million pounds, and this has been borne out by us topping the list again in 2016/17 without the benefit of the one-off payment.

Invention income is injected back into funding more of the ICR's world-leading research to defeat cancer.

The figures were compiled as part of the Higher Education Business and Community Interaction (HE-BCI) survey, carried out annually by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

Our new quarterly newsletter, Connections, showcases our work and commercial partnerships, shares learning, and identifies ways for staff, students and industry partners to get involved.

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Industry partnerships

The ICR is well known for establishing productive partnerships with industry, and regularly tops UK and international league tables that measure good practice in knowledge exchange and the impact of research on society.

Indeed, our income from research collaborations – projects carried out in partnership with commercial partners – has increased five-fold over the past six years, from £2 million to almost £10 million per year.

We have more than 100 current partnerships with a range of companies, from small, specialised biotech firms to big pharma.

Showcasing opportunities

The ICR has a philosophy of encouraging interaction with industry, often partnering early so we can benefit from the input of industry resources and complimentary expertise.

To reach out further to partners and potential investors, the Enterprise team launched a quarterly newsletter, Connections in October. The newsletter is aimed at professionals and researchers working in commercial settings – from small biotech firms to big pharma.

A series of videos were also produced to showcase examples of how ICR scientists collaborate with commercial partners, and promotes new opportunities for industry partners to get involved in their work.

The videos highlight examples of entrepreneurial culture across different research divisions, with six team leaders discussing their experiences of and future plans for industry collaborations.

“Building strong connections”

Dr Angela Kukula, the ICR's Director of Enterprise, said:

“Modern science is a team endeavour. In cancer research, the questions we are asking now are so large we often require teamwork between many different specialists, with different knowledge and skills. 

“Building strong connections between individuals with different sets of skills is essential, and this principle applies to teams across different organisations and sectors as much as within just one. And with mutual respect and understanding, cross-organisational alliances can be very successful indeed.

“We're delighted that our commitment to innovation and partnership working has been borne out yet again by coming top of these rankings of invention income.”

Contact Dr Angela Kukula for more information on our commercial collaborations.


Enterprise Unit
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