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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 The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.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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Dear Vice-Chancellor or Principal

Knowledge exchange funding: Higher Education Innovation Fund – institutional strategies and plans

1. We said in ‘Higher Education Innovation Fund: Additional funding for knowledge exchange to deliver the Industrial Strategy’ (HEFCE Circular letter 25/2017) that as part of our 2017 autumn monitoring, we would ask higher education institutions (HEIs) in receipt of Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) 2017-18 allocations to provide us with additional information on their plans to use HEIF, to supplement previously approved institutional strategies.

2. A main focus of these plans would be to provide evidence that the £40 million of additional HEIF allocated from 2017-18 to deliver the Government’s Industrial Strategy is being used for that purpose.

3. The Government published the Industrial Strategy White Paper ‘Building a Britain fit for the future’ ( on 27 November 2017. The White Paper announced that the Government was committed to increasing HEIF to reach £250 million a year by 2020-21.

4. In the light of the Government’s announcement, Research England may allocate additional HEIF funding for 2018-19. We are therefore rescheduling our call for plans for HEIF to spring 2018, to sit alongside the announcement of 2018-19 allocations. HEIs will be expected to include in their plans how they have used 2017-18 allocations, as well as their intended uses of funds in subsequent years, for the purposes set out in HEFCE Circular letter 25/2017, and in line with our overall guidance on HEIF (‘Higher Education Innovation Funding: Institutional five-year knowledge exchange strategies: Policy and request for institutional strategies’, HEFCE 2016/16). HEIs should continue to keep appropriate records on 2017-18 HEIF expenditures. Our approval of plans will be a condition for receipt of HEIF allocations in future years. We will also publish evidence from the plans to demonstrate university delivery of the Industrial Strategy.

5. In using allocations of HEIF that are linked to delivery of the Industrial Strategy, HEIs must take account of the ‘Ideas’ section (pages 56-91) of ‘Building a Britain fit for the future’.

6. In 2019 we are likely to call for a new round of strategies, incorporating information requested in plans for HEIF, for the period from 2020-21 onwards. HEIs that newly gain a HEIF allocation in any year of the current period will be asked to submit a strategy in the format set out in HEFCE 2016/16 in the run-up to the next round, together with their plans for HEIF.

UK Research and Innovation: Research England

7. From 1 April 2018, HEFCE’s research and knowledge exchange functions will transfer to Research England in UK Research and Innovation. Research England, working with Office for Students, will take the lead on the arrangements described in this letter for accountability for additional HEIF funding from the science and research budget.

Further information

8. If you have any queries about this funding, contact Hamish McAlpine, tel 0117 931 7293, email, for HEIF allocations, or Alice Frost, tel 0117 931 7101, email, for plans for HEIF.

Yours sincerely

David Sweeney

Director (Research and Knowledge Exchange)

Research England Executive Chair Designate


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Date: 2 January 2018

Ref: Circular letter 01/2018

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Technology transfer, Research commercialisation, University-business links, Strategic planning, Regional economic development, Knowledge exchange

Enquiries should be directed to:

Hamish McAlpine tel 0117 931 7293, email

Alice Frost, tel 0117 931 7101, email