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Edinburgh Stanford Link Evaluation: final report


The Edinburgh Stanford Link (ESL) was set up as a collaborative research and commercialisation programme between the Human Commercialisation Research Centre (HCRC) at Edinburgh University and the Centre for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI) at Stanford University in California with the aim of transforming advances in language technology into innovative, commercial products. The evaluation aimed to assess: the economic and wider impacts of the Link, whether ESL objectives have been (or are likely to be) met and the implications for the future of the Link and Scottish Enterprise’s (SE’s) role in supporting knowledge transfer and commercialisation.


The methodology included: an analysis of documents provided by SE; interviews with Link staff, the management team, Link advisors, SE staff, university representatives and other stakeholders; an economic impact evaluation; and analysis of the implications of the findings to inform SE, and other key stakeholders, on how best to generate future benefits.


The evaluation found that the ESL has generated (and is likely to generate further) high levels of economic and wider impacts; relative to the level of public sector funding provided. It is estimated that the initial funding commitment of £6.0 million is likely to generate between £9.4 million and £28.51 million of net benefits and that the engagement with Scottish companies will potentially lead to the largest quantifiable net impact. Since its inception the Link has undertaken 18 major research projects which have generated various outputs including: funding support; patents (granted or applied for); and leverage of funding support via initial revenue support in relation to commercialisation activities. Other outputs have also been generated from the activities undertaken to meet the wider objectives of exploiting links with industry, developing the undergraduate and graduate skills base and creating an entrepreneurial culture and spirit. It was also found that a series of significant ‘spill over effects’ that are not captured by the economic impact analysis have been generated. NB the economic impact calculations in this report do not wholly adhere to the Scottish Enterprise Economic Impact Assessment Guidance launched in 2006, therefore please treat these figures with caution. Please use the “Contact Us” button if you need more information.


In taking forward any future initiatives of this nature it was recommended that: initial consideration be given not only to the nature of the market failure identified (i.e. the ‘failure’ to link industry to academia) but also the best means to respond to such failure in terms of addressing market needs; there should be pro-active engagement with both industrial sectors and university departments; and consideration be given to formalising such initiatives within a management framework and potentially organisational structure.

Author PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
Published Year 2009
Report Type Evaluation
  • Sectors
    Digital markets and enabling technologies
  • Innovation