The KT Boundary


As it’s a Friday afternoon before a bank holiday in the UK  I wanted to muse about the future and the distant past.

The geologists amongst you will be familiar with the KT Boundary - between the Cretaceous and the Tertiary periods. Below the boundary layer, there’s loads of evidence of animal life.  Above the boundary - nothing.  It is generally agreed that this was caused by the huge meteorite which changed the environment and wiped out most life forms on Earth 65 million years ago. Since we work in what is sometimes called Knowledge Transfer I get particularly sensitive when people talk about a KT Boundary and I wondered that as the environment around us changes that we might be in our own KT boundary moment today? 



Amongst the global Knowledge Transfer community, there is increasing discussion about what our profession is actually all about.  The European Knowledge Exchange Association (ASTP) held its annual conference in Dublin this week and there was a real interest from across the Continent in redefining our profession so that we can explain the importance of our role to funders and stakeholders.  PraxisAuril will be playing a leading role in this and helping to shape the global standing of what we do. 

The UK has built a very strong position as one of the World’s leaders in taking technology innovations to market through spin-outs, licensing and patient capital innovation.  However, we have also become experts in building partnerships, working on research collaborations, driving education frameworks, running KTPs, building regional innovation infrastructure, supporting student entrepreneurs, structuring commercial management teams, building international links, raising investment funds, and managing marketing campaigns. The total value of all that was £4.5BN last year.


I’ve been in several discussions with governments in the UK and overseas recently and they are all concerned about how to measure the impact on society from their investment in R&D.  The UK’s 2.4% initiative is all part of this and leads inexorably to the KEF.  People measure things that are important and the emergence of the KEF tells us that while governments like the idea of growing Knowledge Exchange, they like the idea of growing the Knowledge Economy even more.  So my contribution to the debate of what to call the KE community, and what we actually do as we move past our own KT boundary is to propose that we should now think of ourselves as ‘Knowledge Economy professionals’ – which at least has the advantage of keeping the same initials! 


Have a good break.


Sean Fielding RTTP
Director, Innovation, Impact and Business 
University of Exeter

Chair, PraxisAuril 2019-21