Two Scottish universities have featured in the UK top 10 for generating spin-out companies, according to a survey by a leading venture capital fund.

Dundee university secured top spot, and Edinburgh Napier placed 10th on a UK list compiled by Octopus Ventures, one of Europe’s largest VC teams.

Dundee was up from fourth spot on last year’s report, whilst Edinburgh Napier climbed 33 places, the third highest rise of any UK university.

The top 10 includes the universities of Oxford and Cambridge as well as University College London and King’s College London.

The report explores and celebrates how UK universities are fuelling economic growth and solving society’s biggest challenges. At the heart is an ‘impact rating’, which ranks universities using crucial indicators influencing spin-out activity at universities.  

These are disclosures, patents, spin-outs created, and subsequent financial transactions associated with exits. The exiting of spin-out companies is fundamental to how well universities perform in the ranking.  

The wide variation in resources available to each of the universities is taken into account and weighted according to the funding inputs received by each institution. The ranking uses the latest available data from a decade long-period, sourced from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), and the approach emphasises long-term performance. 

The Gateways to growth: Entrepreneurial Impact Report 2023 has taken into account high-profile spin-outs from Edinburgh Napier in recent years, including many in the cyber arena, as well as emerging sectors of augmented reality and renewables such as:  

Symphonic Software, which has developed technology to prevent fraud, improve cybersecurity and compliance, and was acquired by Ping ID in 2020. 

a new generation of rapid digital triage for law enforcement, helping scan devices for known child abuse or terrorist content up to 100x fastest than traditional methods.  

which offers recovery from ransomware attacks without paying ransoms or spending months retrieving data.  

a unique data security solution that helps organisations and businesses identify, respond to and manage risky behaviours that put critical data at risk. It was acquired by Fortinet in 2018. 

which specialises in augmented reality and how it can be used to bring objects to life. For example, through apps on mobile devices in museums or everyday environments. 

Celtic Renewables, 
whose patented low-carbon technology converts unwanted and low-value biological material, such as that from the whisky production industry, into high-value renewable chemicals, such as sustainable biofuel. 

Professor Nick Antonopoulos, deputy vice chancellor and vice principal of research & innovation at Edinburgh Napier, said: “This is wonderful recognition of the work that goes on at Edinburgh Napier. We have a track record of delivering pioneering research and translating this research into economically impactful spinouts which are creating high-value jobs and helping put the City of Edinburgh and Scotland on the map as a leading research and development nation.  

“Our academics are also entrepreneurs who provide our graduates with the skills they that need to grasp the opportunities of the continuing digitalisation of all sectors of our economy and support Scotland’s economic transformation.” 

Dr Amy Nommeots-Nomm, deep tech investor, Octopus Ventures, said: “Edinburgh Napier University is a great example of how institutions can demonstrate spin-out success and build a pipeline of academics turned entrepreneurs. With their expertise and support, it is no surprise that they have climbed 33 spots on our Entrepreneurial Impact Ranking since 2020, to take the number 10 spot. Alongside others in the top 10, including The University of Cambridge and The University of Dundee, Edinburgh Napier University has created an environment in which entrepreneurs can thrive and we are thrilled to have spotlighted their success.”

Movement since 2020 Report shows Edinburgh Napier up 33 places at number 10