Advocate Experience by Alex Anderson | PraxisAuril Conference 2024

Written by Alex Anderson, Strategic Research Manager, The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

My first PraxisAuril Conference experience started on a sunny, windswept day in Blackpool. As a Strategic Research Manager at a specialist London based postgraduate institution (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine) I have been involved in supporting knowledge exchange (KE) strategy development and delivery with a recent focus on the Knowledge Exchange Framework and Knowledge Exchange Concordat. I was particularly interested in attending this year’s PraxisAuril Conference as a new member of the PraxisAuril AHSS Community of Practice. The structures and systems for STEM related KE often have prominence and I was keen to hear more about SHAPE related KE activities at other institutions to be better equipped to support my academic colleagues working in these disciplines to create impact from their work. 

Following a memorable plenary opening session that highlighted the importance of geography, I was left reflecting on the value of building mutually beneficial regional and national collaborations. The conference was well designed to help kick this off between KE professionals with the time and the space to allow attendees to connect with each other and with sponsors between sessions. With four highly relevant sessions running in parallel, it was a difficult choice on which session to attend, and all provided an excellent mix of information and audience engagement.  

As the operational lead for my institution’s Knowledge Exchange Concordat (KEC) plans and a member of the KEC Advisory Group, it was very useful to hear about the vision for the KEC 2.0, as a framework for KE practice and culture. The development of a KE skills framework was also welcomed. The University of Essex’s case study of “taking Social Sciences to market” through designing and growing an evaluation service showed the value of identifying your KE strengths and growing these with the right support. This was echoed by the “Tales from the frontline” session which showcased the different approaches of institutions in identifying their areas of KE excellence and exploring how to grow these through tailored activities, building academic engagement and support structures. Across these engaging sessions and during networking it was reassuring to hear common challenges across the sector, including balancing the breadth and depth of activities so institutions can be agile and responsive, whilst still maintaining relationships. This is reflected in my take away from the conference; connect and collaborate to translate and accelerate!  

Alex Anderson,
Strategic Research Manager, The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine