Companies operating from Sci-Tech Daresbury are forming valuable collaborations with universities at a higher rate than ever.
The news, which comes out of the latest tenant survey to be conducted by Sci-Tech Daresbury, is evidence that the Science and Innovation Campus is achieving its aim of accelerating growth for high-tech tenant businesses by driving collaboration.
High-tech SME companies at Sci-Tech Daresbury are being encouraged to form collaborative and mutually beneficial relationships with regional universities in particular, along with the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).
Of those companies surveyed, 64% were collaborating with a university, compared with 55% in 2013. This represents the highest level of university collaboration to-date.
The increase in university collaboration was driven by a strong growth in collaborative research, student placements and recruitment; and sales activities to universities.
Interaction with the Science and Technology Facilities Council, a UK government body that funds and carries out scientific research, has also increased. The survey showed that 48% of Daresbury companies are utilising services and/or expertise from STFC. This percentage is significantly up from 39% in 2013.
Overall, 77% of Daresbury companies reported that they had a collaboration with either a University or STFC, a big leap from 64% in 2013 and about one-third higher than the level reported in 2012.
The Universities of Liverpool and Manchester continue to be the most active with campus companies, followed by Lancaster, Cambridge and Oxford. Closer to home, the survey demonstrated a notable growth in interaction with the University of Chester.
The total business value from collaboration for Sci-Tech Daresbury companies increased from £4m to £5m, a rise of 25%.
Professor John Womersley, Chief Executive of STFC, said, “We work hard to minimise business failure and accelerate growth for high-tech SME companies located on our campus.
“We do this partly by promoting interactions and collaborations with and between companies, the science base of STFC and the universities, and regional and national business support organisations.
“Collaboration between companies on site is very important. This grew by 16% last year: there are now more than 140 collaborations underway between campus companies.
The value creation delivered through collaboration is impressive and we are determined to keep building on it year after year.”
Case study – Perceptive Engineering
Software and consultancy business Perceptive Engineering Ltd (PEL) was founded in 2003 and has since grown to be a highly regarded and reputable company.
Based at Vanguard House at Sci-Tech Daresbury, Perceptive Engineering has brought together a team of highly experienced engineering professionals and has seen sustained growth in the global marketplace from the outset.
Since Perceptive moved to the Sci-Tech Daresbury campus its turnover has increased from £450,000 to £1.9m and staff numbers have increased from seven to 24. The business has also expanded its reach with an office in Singapore that was initially seeded during a UK trade mission.
Working with clients including Abbott Nutritional, Pfizer and Nestle, Perceptive Engineering provides Advanced Process Control (APC) to improve efficiency, quality, reliability and capability.
David Lovett, Perceptive Engineering managing director, said: “We’re actively involved with Sci-Tech campus university partners, including the University of Manchester and Lancaster.
“We have also struck up collaborative relationships with a number of clients, including Unilever and United Utilities, as a result of connections made at Daresbury, and collaboration is an essential part of our business success.”
Leveraging the skills base available at Sci-Tech, Perceptive Engineering works with other on-site companies to access additional capabilities. These companies include Inventya who have provided Perceptive Engineering with market research, insight into Innovate UK funds and access to European partners and advice from UKTi representatives on international collaborations.
The business has recently commenced a joint project with STFC computing centre focusing on the advanced manufacture of pharmaceutical drug products.