Research England report details how the first version of the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) will work

Research England has released a report detailing decisions and next steps for the KEF following last year’s consultation and pilot exercises. PraxisAuril is pleased to see that comments and contributions from universities, businesses and other sector stakeholders – including many PraxisAuril members – have been taken into account in the final metrics, narrative information, clusters, eligibility and timelines.

The UK is already one of the best in the World for collaboration between universities and business and this work is a key component of UK innovation strategy. Alice Frost, Director of Knowledge Exchange at Research England, noted that:

“Over twenty years our universities have developed ever closer links with key stakeholders, delivering benefits for institutions and their students and unlocking knowledge for the benefit of their partners. [The KEF] exercise will bring a justified focus on the progress which had been made and which we expect to continue as the government invests more in research and innovation.” 

Full details of the release and the report itself can be found on the Research England website.

PraxisAuril welcomes the KEF approach which we think will bring a renewed focus to the important role that knowledge exchange professionals play in making this important work happen.  The new majority Conservative government has yet to finalise its plans for innovation and R&D investment but the expectations on universities are high.  Our membership has been highly engaged throughout the KEF consultation. That engagement has strengthened the validity of the KEF data and made us stronger as a professional community; bringing together different groups of HEIs.  It will give us a new framework for analysing activity, and drawing out the strengths of KE across the UK and identifying potential weaknesses. Research England found broad support from the sector for accompanying narrative in three areas: public and community engagement, local growth and regeneration activities, and the broader context in which they operate.  We think this will help partners to understand each university’s priorities. Because the KEF is designed to be low burden, it is based on data which is already reported by universities and no new data categories are proposed for the first exercise.  Many of our members are concerned that HE-BCI data is not able to fully articulate the full range of KE activities and their economic, social and cultural impacts and the ongoing review of HE-BCI data put cart before horse.  Therefore, whilst we regard KEF as an important step we hope for refinements in the next few years. 

Sean Fielding, current chair of PraxisAuril said:

“The KEF has come at an important time.  The UK is set for a new era of R&D driven growth and productivity, and collaboration between businesses and universities has never been so important.  The UK already punches above its weight in innovation and knowledge exchange and the KEF will give us the data to prove it.”

PraxisAuril will continue to work with Research England to engage members, deliver the Framework and help our sector stakeholders to understand its purpose all whist being a critical friend in its development and implementation.


Next steps

The first results using the Framework will be published in summer 2020 at which point the underlying framework will be reviewed. No decision has yet been made about how the KEF will link to funding, and the current £213m HEIF will continue to be allocated using the current method.