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

We’re sure it will come as no surprise that the current dominant policy issue is the Industrial Strategy and the proposed KEF. How is PraxisAuril engaging in these key sector developments for our members? Following a get-together in London to discuss the KEF, the PraxisAuril Advocacy Committee put together a response to the KEF Technical Advisory Group (January 2018) which you can read here. Our thanks go to all those involved.

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.

In fact, our involvement with HEFCE’s Knowledge Exchange Framework programme goes back to its inception in 2015. Members across the UK have been working with us, in support of HEFCE’s project, to develop understanding of, and provide evidence on, good practice in knowledge exchange. We welcomed the KEF as further opportunity to represent the views of members in its design and purpose. We were therefore delighted to welcome Alice Frost, HEFCE, and Greg Wade, UUK, to our recent Directors’ Forum to discuss the project’s progress and debate key concerns directly with members. An important message that we took from discussions is that the KEF will certainly test the sector – the 2.4% R&D target is a challenging one in which universities are billed as key players – but there will also be opportunities through new programmes and funding initiatives.

Shortly after the Director’s Forum Phil Clare, PraxisAuril Advocacy Chair, spoke about the KEF at a  Westminster Briefing event alongside Trevor McMillan and Alice Frost. Liam Sutton, Bradford University, gave an overview of his university’s KE approach at the same event.

There will be further opportunity to discuss different aspects of the KEF at our May conference in Telford – you can see details on the programme here.

Other activities:

  • Our review of KE Professionals, conducted by Research Consulting, is now available online, click here. We’ll draw on the findings across our work to develop, promote and connect our members. One of the key findings was that you don’t like filling in surveys! The response rate was low, which gives us food for thought in itself. PraxisAuril has a unique window on the people who actually do the day to day work of Knowledge Exchange and it’s important for us to understand the skill needs and career ambitions that we can help you to meet: more of this in due course.
  • Maxine Ficarra (CEO), Angela Kukula (Chair, and Tony Hickson (Board member) attended this year’s AUTM conference in Phoenix, USA. As well as hearing about good practice in the US it was an important opportunity to catch-up with PraxisAuril alumni from around the world. They were also there to see long-term PraxisAuril member, Alison Campbell, Director of KTIreland (KTI), take on the AUTM Chair.
  • Straight after AUTM, Maxine travelled to Ireland to help judge the KTI innovation awards. PraxisAuril expertise is also informing this year’s THELMAS – Alasdair Cameron is currently working his way through a large pile of entries. We will highlight the winners of both competitions later in the year.
  • The PraxisAuril exec team can’t take up all the opportunities we’re offered and recognise that often one of our members will have much more specific expertise to take to the discussion. This was the case when the IPO invited PraxisAuril to join a roundtable discussion on International Grace Periods. A call out to our Legal and Investor SIG resulted in Marie Nolan, Lancaster University, attending that event on our behalf recently.

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