As the Universities Minister highlights, the productivity gap is one of the UK’s greatest challenges at the moment. HEFCE is committed to a programme of work to raise awareness of the expertise in universities that can contribute to development of productivity policy, as well as to highlight and develop the many contributions that higher education, research and knowledge exchange can make to address productivity working with business and public services.
In this context, Dame Ann’s endorsement of the inclusion of impact in the Research Excellence Framework, and of HEFCE’s funding for knowledge exchange through HEIF, are important. Alongside our work on higher-level skills, these are major instruments for addressing the nation’s productivity challenge. The review also draws attention to the effectiveness of physical co-location of academic and business researchers as a means to deepen collaboration, and highlights the value of our UK Research Partnerships Investment Fund (UKRPIF).
The REF impact database is a major evidence resource that can help improve understanding and development of strategic research collaborations, and the range of industries that are already engaged with the research base. Our work on mapping of small to medium sized enterprise highlighted in the review report is intended to help to move beyond present collaborations and support higher education in forging new effective partnerships.
We are committed to working with RCUK and Innovate UK to deliver a whole systems approach to impact, including immediately addressing the productivity challenge. Our partnership with the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) to deliver an intelligent brokerage system is one aspect to our collaboration. We are also committed to working with Innovate UK and NCUB to deliver the smart specialisation hub for Government, which can be a vital tool to help address regional and local disparities in productivity. The Dowling Review also gives further impetus to our work with university knowledge exchange practitioners and other stakeholders on a Knowledge Exchange Framework, which will include metrics and good practices to demonstrate and enhance the valuable role played by Technology Transfer Offices and other knowledge exchange units.
We look forward to working with Government and other partners to address key conclusions and recommendations.