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.

PraxisAuril welcomes the announcement and the recognition it affords to KE as a third pillar of university activity flowing from teaching and research. HEBCI data has, for years, provided some measure of outputs from knowledge exchange but we have regularly highlighted the flaws in annual data which struggle to accommodate ‘spikes’ in income in a single year at a single institution, hide ‘repeat customers’ (a measure of quality), and can be used to make assumptions about a sector which is very diverse in terms of its research strengths, KE resources and KE activities. The KEF must, therefore, be fit for purpose across this diverse sector and avoid standardisation that might ignore the importance of economies of scale and critical mass, especially around research-derived KE.

PraxisAuril has been working with HEFCE since early 2015 to develop understanding of, and provide evidence on, good practice in knowledge exchange. We are therefore delighted to see that Professor Trevor McMillan (University of Keele) who championed the project and led a ‘deep dive’ on Technology Transfer practices in 2016, will be providing advice to Research England on the design of the KEF and its value for universities.

Angela Kukula, co-Chair of PraxisAuril said:

“Annual HEBCI data demonstrates how universities attract more income year-on-year from a wide range of knowledge exchange activities. The KEF will be an opportunity to demonstrate in a more sophisticated way the value our members help to unlock in the UK higher education system. That should help to build confidence for existing and potential collaborators and drive up UK R&D as part of the Industrial Strategy.”

Martin Davies, co-Chair of PraxisAuril said:

“Universities have tremendously diverse and rich knowledge exchange activities which could benefit more external partners, particularly those businesses seeking to take advantage of new funding released under the Industrial Strategy. We welcome the KEF as a way of raising the profile of our members and the high quality work they do in bringing about successful business-university collaboration”

PraxisAuril members work at the interface between researchers and external collaborators and investors to increase the economic and social benefit of the UK research base. Universities generated over £4 billion in revenues from knowledge exchange in 2015-16. PraxisAuril has long committed to:

  • leading and sharing good practice through best-in-class KE training, information provision, and networking activities to professionalise standards in Knowledge Exchange
  • engaging with key stakeholders, including HEFCE, UUK, NCUB and BEIS, to explore how to improve the quality of transactions between academic and industry representatives
  • providing expert advice, guidance and processes in support of the research community to make it easier for them to successfully commercialise their research

The HEFCE consultation is available on the HEFCE website.  PraxisAuril will be engaging its members as 'expert practitioners' to respond to the consultation as fully as possible.