ICR comes top in university invention income for eighth successive year

The Institute of Cancer Research, London, has earned the most staff-adjusted invention income of any UK higher education institution for the eighth year in a row.

A higher education institution’s invention income is a key marker of its success at commercialising its research for public benefit through collaboration with industry.

The ICR’s analysis of newly released figures from the Higher Education and Statistics Authority (HESA) show that we received the most income from intellectual property, per member of academic staff, of any higher education institution in the UK in the 2019-20 academic year.

We were behind only the relatively much larger University of Oxford and UCL in raw invention income, with £28.7m.

New treatments
The ICR works in collaboration with companies to translate our research findings into new cancer treatments. While income does not drive our strategy – and is invested back into our research – it can act as a barometer that demonstrates our success in bringing new treatment options to patients.

Much of our invention income comes from the sales of cancer drugs abiraterone and olaparib, although we receive income from a range of cancer treatments and technologies.

Record year
Our invention income is substantially lower than in the previous year, by around £9m, largely because abiraterone is reaching the end of its patent life.

However, despite the pandemic, the past 12 months have seen a succession of major milestones for our work in collaboration with industry and a record year for income received from our direct collaboration with companies.

In 2019-20, we received £11.5m from industrial research partners to support a wide range of research projects – from early-stage drug discovery to clinical trials, and from technology development to preclinical explorations of drug resistance. This amount is in addition to our invention income.

Collaboration highlights of the past year have included a new agreement with pharmaceutical company Roche to explore mechanisms of resistance to its antibody drug cibisatamab, and a clinical trial of a promising new drug targeting the effects of the KRAS gene, which has been notoriously difficult to target.

Innovation Gateway
Another of our highlights of the past year has been announcing the creation of the Innovation Gateway – a new incubator space for companies that is set to even further enhance our work in collaboration with industry.

The Innovation Gateway – part of The London Cancer Hub, a partnership between the ICR and the London Borough of Sutton – will be a home for a range of companies working in collaboration with our scientists and will open later this year.

The Innovation Gateway will give companies the opportunity to collaborate directly with some of the world's leading cancer researchers.

Dr Angela Kukula, the ICR’s Director of Business and Innovation, said:

“Although the ICR’s strategy for our research is focused on patient benefit, not profit, invention income is an indication that our findings have been successfully translated into new treatments and technologies for cancer.

"It is a great achievement to have been the most successful higher education institution in the UK at generating invention income for the last eight years, and reflects the degree of innovation of our science and our commitment to collaborating with industry to ensure patient benefit.”

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Henry French