Over £1.3 billion generated for East Midlands’ economy through research, innovation and the creation of new businesses, new analysis reveals

Wednesday, 28 February 2024

A new report by London Economics, assessing the economic impact of Russell Group universities, which includes the University of Nottingham, found the impact of their research and commercialisation activities equated to more than £1.3 billion (£1.326 billion) in the East Midlands in 2021/2022 and £37.6 billion overall across the UK for all 24 universities combined.

Analysis showed that the research and commercialisation activities, such as the creation of new spin-out companies, wider knowledge exchange and Intellectual Property licensing, helped to support over 12,000 (12,185) jobs in the region. Across the UK, more than a quarter of a million (254,000) jobs, twice as many as in the chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing industries combined, were supported by all 24 Russell Group universities.

The report shows how the universities contributed to economies in every single region and nation of the country, delivering research and innovation in sectors ranging from medicine to sustainable energy and the creative industries. This is in addition to the economic impact generated by wider productivity spill overs, teaching and education-related activities, and the fees and spending from international students.

Professor Shearer West, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham, said: "We welcome this new report which highlights the intrinsic value that universities bring to our local economy, through our research, our partnerships with local businesses, as a significant employer and by attracting thousands of the brightest and most talented students to our city, many of whom choose to make Nottingham their home after graduation.

 "Through our research, education and knowledge exchange, we contribute over a billion pounds per annum to the UK economy."

Shearer West
We are proud that as the birthplace of discoveries including MRI and ibuprofen, our long history of driving innovation has not only transformed the lives of millions of people around the globe, but fosters the prosperity of the East Midlands region.
Professor Shearer West, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham

Now, the Russell Group is urging the Government to maximise the economic potential of the UK’s research-intensive universities by ensuring at least 3% of GDP is invested into R&D by 2030.

Now, the Russell Group is urging the Government to maximise the economic potential of the UK’s research-intensive universities by ensuring at least 3% of GDP is invested into R&D by 2030. The Group, which represents 24 leading research universities, notes that such a commitment by current and future Governments would not only bring the UK in line with other top research nations but also deliver further benefits to the UK economy in years to come.

In a letter to the Chancellor ahead of the Spring Budget, the Group asked the Government to use the Budget to deliver on its existing commitment to invest £20bn in R&D by 2024/25.

Immense value

Dr Tim Bradshaw, Chief Executive of the Russell Group, said: “These findings demonstrate the immense value our universities add in every single corner of the UK. The data clearly shows that investing in R&D and innovation at Russell Group universities reaps huge benefits for local economies and communities, with hundreds of thousands of jobs created and new enterprise supported, thanks to high quality research across a range of disciplines.

“Russell Group breakthroughs are helping accelerate efforts to reach Net Zero responsibly, transforming the way UK companies do business and providing the NHS with new ways to save lives and cut waiting lists. Good choices and sustained investment from government has been crucial to this success.

“Now is the time to build on this success with robust funding to future-proof the skills and talent pipeline that is so vital to the growth of our economy – and to ensure that the research and innovation that originates within universities will continue to make a tangible, positive impact on people’s lives.”

East Midlands case study

University of Nottingham spin-out company Cerca Magnetics is using quantum technology to develop wearable brain scanners that could help detect early signs of dementia.

The company has pioneered the rapid development of a new type of brain scanner that uses quantum technology to measure magnetic fields above the scalp. In 2024, Cerca was backed by a £2m investment from the UK government as part of a £45m support package for the quantum sector.

The wearable OPM-MEG system uses small LEGO-brick-sized optically pumped magnetometers (OPMs) to measure the brain’s magnetic field which have been incorporated into a lightweight helmet that allows people to move freely during scanning.

The innovative design means the system can be adapted to fit anyone, from newborns to adults, and sensors can be placed much closer to the head, dramatically enhancing data quality.

Cerca was spun out from University of Nottingham research in 2020. The new UK government support will be used to install a system at the Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity where it will help enhance our understanding what happens to the function of the brain in people with dementia, which could lead to developing methods for earlier diagnosis and treatment.

Emma Thorne - Head of News
Phone: 0115 846 8092

Notes to editors:

About the University of Nottingham

Ranked 32 in Europe and 16th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024, the University of Nottingham is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.

Nottingham was crowned Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 – the third time it has been given the honour since 2018 – and by the Daily Mail University Guide 2024.

The university is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

The university is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.

We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.

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