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HEFCE closed at the end of March 2018. The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.

Many of HEFCE's functions will be continued by the Office for Students, the new regulator of higher education in England, and Research England, the new council within UK Research and Innovation.

The HEFCE domain - - will continue to function until September 2018. At this point we will close the site entirely and all its information will only be available from the National Web Archive.


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HEFCE will work with universities to articulate world-class policy and practice in knowledge exchange, and support universities to achieve their best performance relative to their strengths in knowledge exchange, through the following actions:

  • Establishing a steering group for the framework that brings together university leadership, academic experts and expert practitioners. The steering group is chaired by Professor Trevor McMillan, Vice-Chancellor of Keele University and HEFCE KE framework champion [Note 3].
  • Setting up a portal [Note 4] to identify and develop communities of practice and their good practice materials across the full scope of knowledge exchange. A report by Research Consulting [Note 5] forms the basis for the summary of existing communities of practice, and links will be added as the scope of the framework expands. Development of the framework will include periodic ’deep dive’ reviews of areas of KE policy and practice, and the first such review, on technology transfer, published on 1 September 2016, is included on the portal [Note 6].
  • Resources to engage universities in the use of data as the basis for performance comparisons, benchmarking and identification of performance peers for support and improvement are included within the portal [Note 7].

The framework is backed by the stakeholders in universities, as well as research and innovation funders – Universities UK, PraxisUnico, AURIL, HEFCE, Innovate UK and Research Councils UK.

Professor Trevor McMillan, Vice-Chancellor of Keele University and chair of the review group, said:

‘The KE framework provides an opportunity for universities to confirm their commitment to delivering the Government’s economic and societal priorities and to describe the successful policies and practices that they have in place. Universities should also see it as a challenge – to look at leading-edge and innovative practice around the world, to share good practices in this country, and overall increase our support for the UK as a knowledge economy. Close working between university leaders, practitioners and innovation experts in steering the development is vital.’


1. HEFCE uses the term knowledge exchange, or KE, as shorthand for the multiple interactions between Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and businesses, public services, charities and communities to create societal and economic benefit. KE includes activities such as joint research and development projects, consultancy and training, as well as technology transfer (spinning out companies and licensing intellectual property).

2. The Government said in the 2016 HE White Paper:

‘Government protection of research funding has helped HEFCE to maintain Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) which underpins knowledge exchange and tech transfer capabilities. HEFCE is continuing to develop and implement a framework to benchmark KE performance across the HE sector, encouraging the sharing of innovation and entrepreneurial expertise, and supporting the professionalization of knowledge exchange skills.’ (Success as a Knowledge Economy, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), May 2016)

3. The initial membership of the steering group is:

  • Professor Trevor McMillan, Vice-Chancellor, Keele University (Chair and HEFCE KE framework champion)
  • Dr Mark Bacon, Director of Engagement and Partnerships, Keele University (policy support to Chair)
  • Professor Sue Baxter, Director of Research, Enterprise and Social Partnerships, Brighton University
  • Dr David Bembo, Deputy Director and Head of Research Development, Research and Innovation Services, Cardiff University – ex-Chair AURIL
  • Dr Phil Clare, Associate Director and Head of Knowledge Exchange, University of Oxford
  • Tomas Coates-Ulrichsen, Research Fellow, Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation (CSTI), University of Cambridge
  • Professor Maria Delgado, Director of Research, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London
  • Professor Luke Georghiou, Vice-President for Research and Innovation; and Professor of Science, Technology Policy and Management, University of Manchester
  • Professor David Gibson OBE, Head of Entrepreneurship Education, Liverpool John Moores University
  • Dr Tony Raven, Chief Executive, Cambridge Enterprise, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Liam R Sutton, Head of Knowledge Transfer, University of Bradford
  • David Sweeney, HEFCE Director (Research, Education and Knowledge Exchange)
  • Greg Wade, Higher Education Policy Adviser, Universities UK (observer)
  • Alice Frost and Rachel Tyrrell, HEFCE (secretaries)

4. See the knowledge exchange framework portal

5. ‘Effective practice in knowledge exchange’, a report by Research Consulting

6. ‘University Knowledge Exchange (KE) Framework: good practice in technology transfer. Report to the UK higher education sector and HEFCE by the McMillan group’ 

7. Taking account of pilot work undertaken IP Pragmatics in ’Benchmarking for knowledge exchange