PraxisAuril has responded to the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) consultation on the implementation of a new fund in support of innovation and engagement activity at Welsh universities from 2020/21. The new fund will be known as the Research Wales Innovation Fund. PraxisAuril has called for the reinstatement of innovation funding in Wales, since its withdrawal in 2014. Lack of dedicated funding for innovation and knowledge exchange has been detrimental to the knowledge exchange landscape in Wales where KE staff, projects and outcomes have been in decline (reflected in annual HEBCI data). The importance of innovation funding was also underlined in the Diamond Review (2016) and the Review into government funded research and innovation in Wales conducted by Professor Graeme Reid (2018). PraxisAuril worked with our members in Wales to respond to the latter (that response can be seen here).
Our purpose in contributing to this consultation, and the previous Reid Review, was to underline the importance of maintaining a professional, skilled network in research institutions that can help to stimulate innovation, productivity and growth; locally and nationally for economic and social benefit and with a wide range of external stakeholders. With KE policy focusing on stimulating collaboration between universities too, it is important that there is sufficient resource for engagement across the UK and the capacity for sharing good practice. Our submissions emphasise the value of innovation funding (in the form of HEIF) to English universities and the return on investment that this provides in terms of economic and social impact.