Best Practice in Knowledge Exchange

Kala Kennedy, Knowledge Exchange Facilitator at Cranfield University, reflects on the first meeting of the KE Best Practice Group (KE BPG). The KE BPG was set up to provide support for KE professionals to discuss roles and responsibilities and exchange advice on some of the issues encountered day-to-day. 

Getting Started

Last month we held the kick-off meeting of the Knowledge Exchange Best Practice Group (KE BPG).  It was a positive and insightful meeting, with representatives from a variety of organisations operating in the higher education sector in attendance. 

The Group was established with the objective to provide a forum where KE practitioners in higher education can discuss best practice, gain insights and updates on the KE landscape and build a support network. The intention is to provide an environment in which individuals feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, opinions and experiences so that everyone can learn something new and take away points to bring into practice in their own work.

When I first entered the world of KE, my role mainly focused on Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP).  KTP, in addition to the other areas I focused on, was a lot to get to grips with and so during my first few months at Cranfield University I attended a KTP Regional Managers meeting.  Here I found a group of friendly individuals, willing to share a wealth of knowledge and information to help colleagues in other institutions. From the beginning I felt comfortable enough to ask questions and ‘talk shop’, but also to get to know others on a more personal level; this was the start of building an invaluable, and irreplaceable, support network.

As my role and duties expanded, I found myself more entrenched in wider KE activities. After some research, I realised that there was not an equivalent support network to the one I found so valuable for KTP for wider KE activities, and so I decided to take the initiative to bring this new offering to the KE community.  I applied for internal funding through the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) at Cranfield University, which supports KE activities and initiatives, to start the KE BPG and get it off the ground.

An honest exchange 

At our first meeting, Hamish McAlpine, Head of KE Data and Evidence, from Research England joined us to discuss the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), as well as Tamsin Mann, Head of Policy at PraxisAuril, who talked about KEF and what it means for KE professionals.  The presentations resulted in positive discussions around these areas, and provided some new information as well as food for thought.

Colleagues from both the operational and strategic levels attended, which made for insightful discussions and allowed for varying points of view and opinions.  We talked about the structure of KE teams at our organisations, KE ‘pain points’ and what the Group would like to get out of being a member and topics of interest for future meetings.  Some points I look away from the discussions are: there is no ‘right way’ for a KE team to operate; it was surprising to find that some teams sit in the ‘innovation’ space, while others are in the wider ‘research’ team within their organisations; some teams are centralised, and others decentralised within individual faculties or schools. It was interesting to learn how other institutions view KE and the space in which this function sits within the organisation. Speaking with others in an open environment led to an honest conversation around our experiences, with many of them echoing each other. To learn that others have the same or similar frustrations, and positive experiences alike, provides a basis from which best practice can stem and everyone can learn.

I hope that everyone who attended our first meeting was able to take away something positive. Overall, the Group has received a welcome response from the community, and I look forward to seeing where it goes in the future!

Next steps 

The next KE BPG meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, 5th November from 10:00 – 12:00 at the Knowledge Transfer Network offices in the Business Design Centre, Islington, London.  If you would like to join, or find out more, please get in touch (kala.e.kennedy@cranfield.ac.uk).