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The HEIF began in 2001, with the first invitation for proposals (HEFCE 01/34). In this first round, 89 awards totalling more than £77 million were confirmed. The funding allocations were announced in 2002 (HEFCE 02/04). A summary evaluation of the first round of the HEIF programme was published in February 2006.


Funding for a second round of HEIF (HEIF 2) was announced in 2003 (HEFCE 2003/58). A total of 124 awards totalling £186 million were made for 2004-05 and 2005-06, of which 46 were collaborations between more than one HE institution. Around £16 million of funding went to support a network of Centres for Knowledge Exchange. Funding allocations were announced in HEFCE 2004/46.


In 2005 we invited HEIs to apply for funds under the third round of HEIF, for the period 2006-08 (HEFCE 2005/46). Total funding available was £238 million.

Previously, HEIF funding had been awarded to proposed projects based on a competitive process. In HEIF 3, three-quarters of the funding was allocated by formula, based on data from HESA and the HE-business and community interaction survey. All HEFCE-funded HEIs received an allocation on condition that they submit a plan setting out how they would use the funding to support knowledge transfer activities.

The rest of the funding under HEIF 3 was allocated through a competition intended to fund innovative projects of significant scale and impact. Eleven projects were awarded funding through the competition. They were all large-scale collaborative initiatives including several HEIs, and external partners from business and community organisations. A synthetic evaluation of these collaborative projects is underway and will be published in late spring 2010.

The final allocations of funding under HEIF 3 were published in HEFCE 2006/30.

Centres for Knowledge Exchange

Centres for Knowledge Exchange (CKEs) were 22 innovative partnerships funded to develop good practice in knowledge exchange between institutions and businesses and within a specific locality, region or sector. They were funded initially under the HEIF 2, fulfilling a commitment in the White Paper 'The future of higher education'. HEIF rounds 3 and 4 announced continued support for the 22 CKEs up to the end of the initiative in July 2009.


In March 2008 we published Circular letter 04/2008, announcing the final allocations to higher education institutions (HEIs) under HEIF 4 for the three years 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11. Through HEFCE 2008/02 'Higher Education Innovation Fund round 4:Invitation and guidance for institutional strategies', we asked HEIs to submit an institutional strategy as the basis for the release of this formula allocation.

HEFCE 2008/34 confirmed the final funding outcomes of HEIF 4. It describes the process used to assess institutional strategies and sets out that all HEIs receiving HEIF 4 funding have had their strategies approved and funding confirmed.

HEFCE was supported in the assessment of HEIF 4 strategies by specialist economic consultants, PACEC. HEFCE 2008/35 provides an overview of all HEIF 4 strategies from PACEC, summarising developments in knowledge exchange. This report also includes a HEFCE commentary highlighting key points of progress in knowledge exchange in the higher education sector, eight strategies commended for excellent practices and areas of policy for further development.

Higher Education Innovation Funding 2011-15 consultation

The Government set out its intention to reform Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review in 2010. It then gave its view on reform in the HEFCE grant letter for 2011-12, and through the Government's allocation of science and research funding 2011-2015.

In February 2011 we announced the method for HEIF 2011-15 and opened a consultation on proposals to introduce a threshold allocation, also asking for advice on additional metrics that could be helpful in developing future allocation methods.

Overall, no clear consensus emerged among consultation responses regarding alternative approaches for the threshold or new, immediately implementable, metrics. However, many useful points were made regarding the challenges of identifying and incentivising the most effective higher education.

Therefore, as no consensus emerged, we have retained the model proposed in the consultation and confirmed the indicative allocations for 2011-12 that arise from it. Allocations for 2012-15 will be confirmed upon acceptance of the institutional strategy as set out in Higher Education Innovation Funding 2011-12 to 2014-15: Policy, final allocations and request for institutional strategies (HEFCE 2011/16).

Page last updated 3 February 2017