Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF)

The Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) proposes a third pillar of university activity assessment alongside the REF and TEF. It was included as a Government policy in the Industrial Strategy White Paper in 2017. PraxisAuril is engaging proactively on behalf of its members throughout the consultation and implementation process. 
KEF Timeline 
  • February 2022 - HESA announces re-start of the HE-BCI data review 
  • February 2022 - Review of the first iteration of the KEF metrics and narrative statements published by Research England
  • Late October 2021 - Evaluation of KEC action plans sent to individual institutions (see
  • Spring 2021 - Publication of the KEF metrics and narrative statements available on the KEF metrics dashboard

You can read PraxisAuril's contribution to the initial consultation on the use of metrics in the KEF consultation here. A summary of consultation responses and a technical report on the proposed cluster approach was released by Research England in November 2018. This was followed by a second consultation on the metrics exercise in January 2019 and a pilot exercise involving 20 HEIs from across the clusters. 

For all KEF-related matters, please contact Tamsin Mann, Director of Policy & Communications.

Background to the KE Framework 
The KEF is an intitutional-level exercise to inform and assess knowldge exchange activities of UK Higher Education Institutions. It comprises two parts: a KEF Concordat, led by Professor Trevor McMillan (Keele), and KEF metrics exercise which was led by Professor Richard Jones (Sheffield). It emerges from a longer-standing knowledge exchange framework initiative, started by the (then) HEFCE in January 2016. A key output was the McMillan Review of Technology Transfer which concluded that UK universities were internationally competitive in their technology transfer practice but identified the need for stronger leadership in KE and improved evidence to understand ecosytem and industry sector factors in successful technology transfer.
The main metric for knowledge exchange is the annual HE-BCI data collection (see the HESA website). HEIF strategies, for English HEIS in receipt of funding, provide qualitative insight into university KE approaches: a summary review of strategies was commissioned by Research England (then HEFCE, archived web content). The NCUB has piloted an alternative approach with its Collaboration Progress Monitor, which draws on sources of publicly available data to observe trends across 15 metrics. Several reviews of the sector can be found in the Resources section of our website. 
Universities in the devolved nations are not included in the KEF metrics dashboards but still contribute annual data to the HE-BCI collection. A number of Scottish and Welsh universities are taking part in the KEC development year on a voluntary basis. 

Research England launches Knowledge Exchange Framework consultation


Research England has today published a document detailing proposals for how the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) could work and would like to hear the HE sector’s views on these proposals. The proposals set out in the document aim to implement a Government policy priority for the KEF set out in the Industrial Strategy White Paper in 2017.

Conference report: Preparing for the Knowledge Exchange Framework in UK HEIs


Professor Trevor McMillan, Chair of Research England’s KEF Steering Group, set the scene and trailed the KEF Concordat, stressing the importance of measuring and evaluating how universities do Knowledge Exchange (KE).  He identified three key actions for university management:

Research England releases more details on KEF proposals

Research England has published three documents that will help higher education institutions (HEIs) prepare for the upcoming consultation on the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF). The documents are: 

Summary KEF call for evidence responses: key points that have emerged from evidence submitted to Research England on suitable approaches to – and data to use in – the KEF. 

The Big Issues: engaging with our members on Industrial Strategy & KEF proposals


This is just the tip of our engagement however. Two of our members – Sean Fielding and Tony Raven – have been invited to sit on UUK’s working group for the KEF Concordat. This is an initiative aimed at university leaders, to drive endorsement of and commitment to KE at the highest level. It picks up on a key recommendation of the McMillan Review of Technology Transfer, in which PraxisAuril members were also involved.

PraxisAuril responds to the KEF consultation (Feb 2018)


PraxisAuril members have helped to inform our response to the KEF consultation launched by HEFCE's Technical Advisory Group. Since 2015 we have worked with HEFCE to understand better the characteristics of good and effective practice in KE and support whole heartedly the work of the McMillan Group on which some of our members sit. We welcome the KEF as a next step in this work and will continue to engage fully to represent our members’ views as expert KE practitioners working across the UK's university sector. 

PraxisAuril welcomes the KEF & Technical Advisory Group (Nov 2017)

HEFCE has started work on the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) which will form a third pillar of university assessment alongside the TEF and REF. A Technical Advisory Group, Chaired by Professor Richard Jones, will take evidence from the sector before handing over to Research England in April 2018.

PraxisUnico Conference 2016 - KE Framework Podcast


In the first of our podcasts from the PraxisUnico Conference 2016, Professor Trevor McMillan speaks about "Putting technology transfer in context: Development of the KE Framework".

In it he describes:

  • How the US views UK KE and TT
  • How the UK compares globally
  • What to be aware of when making comparisons

Click here to listen 


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