The report, ‘Strengthening the Contribution of English Higher Education Institutions to the Innovation System: knowledge exchange and HEIF funding’, (Note 2) draws on institutional strategies submitted to HEFCE. These strategies set out how universities are using £600 million in Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) (Note 3).
Some headlines from the report:
As part of the assessment of HEI strategies and allocation of HEIF, an expert group (Note 4) commended seven institutions and two partnerships for their good practice (Note 5). They are:
The group also praised two innovative collaborations:
Sir Alan Langlands, HEFCE Chief Executive said:
‘Reading the PACEC report we see a sector that is dynamic and rising to the challenges of new funding arrangements in higher education, changes in the way that economic development is organised, and the evolving needs of industrial partners. I particularly welcome the additional information provided in the report on the increased efficiency and effectiveness of knowledge exchange, with every £1 of HEIF leveraging £6 in external income; and with 80 per cent of institutions taking steps to improve their performance further. This is a sector rising to the challenges of economic recovery and growth by taking an integrated approach to the creation, dissemination and application of knowledge.’
Tomas Ulrichsen, PACEC lead author of the report said:
‘Governments around the world are investing in universities as a way to drive innovation-led economic growth and the development of a knowledge-driven economy. However, people often overlook many of the diverse mechanisms through which this occurs. In this report, we have tried to improve the conceptual model for understanding the full contribution made by the HE sector to innovation and economic development, and to back that up with evidence of real practice from universities on the ground. It is clear that universities are becoming increasingly direct partners in the innovation process as well as working to create a more fertile environment for innovation in the economy.’
Will Hutton, Chair, Big Innovation Centre, said:
‘We need innovation-led growth in the UK, and the Big Innovation Centre is committed to making this happen, working with businesses and universities. We are pleased to be able to provide a forum for discussion to celebrate universities’ contribution to economic growth – but also to prompt debate on what more we could all do.’
For its work towards creating an ‘innovation habitat’ with strong links to the HEI; for its efforts to make it easier for firms to ‘do business with’ Cranfield; for its approach to strategic collaboration involving a much deeper understanding of the needs of their partners; and for its efforts to increase the value for money of investments through a mix of continuous reviews of effectiveness/efficiency, outsourcing and streamlining.
University of Exeter
For its commitment to open innovation; for creating a suite of vouchers for partners at different points in the relationship process (Link Vouchers to support development of new links with industrial partners; Innovation Vouchers for feasibility studies and shorter projects to build relationships; Partnership Schemes to promote the development of strategic partnerships); and for its Research and Knowledge Transfer Service receiving ISO9001 accreditation.
University of Hertfordshire
For engaging with small/medium sized enterprises (SMEs): building on successful learning from its Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) experiences to launch the Knowledge for Business scheme which can be flexibly applied to many types of business; for its launch of an in-house innovation voucher programme to engage with small enterprises; and for its use of impact case studies as light-touch audit to identify areas of research and further KE potential to promote to partners and other stakeholders.
University of Manchester
For its support for student employability and enterprise through the Manchester Leadership Programme, Manchester Graduate Internship Programme, and the Manchester Enterprise Centre.
For its commitment to building its Professors of Practice scheme that brings industrial experts into the academic sphere; for exploitation of its own infrastructure to demonstrate the viability of technologies with the aim of attracting inward investment to the region.
University of Oxford
For its strength in balancing the demands of knowledge exchange with the research, teaching and wider community roles of a global research powerhouse; for its engagement of students in knowledge exchange through the Oxford Student Consultancy to support employability/enterprise; for its continued development of ISIS Innovation and its commitment to working with others to develop and disseminate good practice both within UK and abroad; for its continued strategic development of Begbroke Science Park to bring companies into close contact with HEI; for its use of HEIF funds to stimulate creative thinking on how to best engage in KE; and for the Oxford Research and Development initiative to identify best practice and sources of efficiencies gains in KE.
For its contributions to local economic development through its innovative collaboration with Keele University, North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce, Keele University Business and Science Park to create a Special Purpose Vehicle to manage and direct their complement of innovation infrastructure targeting local high growth SMEs; for its efforts to strength the success of the commercialisation process with Commercial Edge and the Venture Panel.