Is Knowledge Transfer Important to BU?

Dr Martyn Polkinghorne highlights the importance of Knowledge Transfer to the EU…

Well certainly the EU Commission thinks so. In fact it’s so important that the EU Commission says that member states (e.g. the UK) should “ensure that all public research organisations define knowledge transfer as a strategic mission” and that they should “support the development of knowledge transfer capacity and skills in public research organisations, as well as measures to raise the awareness and skills of students – in particular in the area of science and technology – regarding intellectual property, knowledge transfer and entrepreneurship”.1

Supporting intellectual property, knowledge transfer and entrepreneurship are currently activities successfully being undertaken by BU’s Centre for Research & Enterprise (CRE).

When considering Knowledge Transfer as a strategic mission for public research organisations, the EU Commission also states that it wants to move towards a position in which “ knowledge transfer between universities and industry is made a permanent political and operational priority for all public research funding bodies within a Member State, at both national and regional level”.2

More information regarding the EU Commission’s views can be accessed here.

So is Knowledge Transfer important to BU? My personal view is that at a time when BU is looking to increase its portfolio of research funding (including EU sources of funding) it certainly looks as if knowledge transfer may become increasingly important.

What do you think? Let me know your own thoughts and opinions.

Dr Martyn Polkinghorne

Knowledge Transfer Programmes Centre Manager

1 Commission Recommendation on the management of intellectual property in knowledge transfer activities and Code of Practice for universities and other public research organisations, pp 3, 2008

2 Commission Recommendation on the management of intellectual property in knowledge transfer activities and Code of Practice for universities and other public research organisations, pp 8, 2008

6 Responses to “Is Knowledge Transfer Important to BU?”

  1. Matthew Bennett

    Knowledge Transfer is rather an arrogant term in my opinion – we have something to give and you will take it! Most people in the sector now talk about knowledge exchange in which the inflow of information to a University is as important as the outflow. The inflow in terms of: business intelligence for course design and development; enhancing student experience; links for placements and to enhance employability; and for the personal development of academic staff. The real motivation in Knowledge Exchange is not wealth creation but enhancing the core business of research and education. As such Knowledge Exchange has an important place within the future of BU.

    Matthew Bennett

    • Martyn Polkinghorne

      Thanks Matthew. Good input to the debate.

      You are certainly not alone with your point of view, but the commonly held view is that Knowledge Transfer is about having something to offer, and being prepared to share in a constructive way.

      Sometimes this can be for financial benefit, but at other times it can be for social, academic or environmental benefit. It may not even be for any benefit at all.

      Being willing to share is not easy for everyone. Relationships are therefore one of the key drivers to knowledge transfer, and having respect for the views and needs of others is a key component of this process.

      ‘Communities of Practice’ are a good mechanism for this and at BU cross school initiatives such as the centres for digital technologies, health & wellbeing and the green knowledge economy are good examples of how it can start to work.

      Knowledge flow in and out of a University are of course both important, but don’t have to be linked, and Knowledge Transfer within a University can be as important as knowledge flow between organisations.

  2. YT McIntyre-Bhatty

    Although there are a number of debates about the relative strengths of propositions based upon and within enterprise, transfer, and income generation, a likely driver for BU is knowledge exchange as a powerful concept since it can appeal to many types of activity and integrates across activity. Matthew has provided a clear steer for us all in his reflections below:

  3. Martyn Polkinghorne

    Excellent. Thank you Tim. It’s really useful to begin to tie various blogs together, and over time we should start to see common themes emerging from various debates.

    The term Knowledge Exchange being presented now has been established within the knowledge community for a while now and rightly describes a good and sound process of value to both parties. There are certainly times when this is the perfect model for interaction with others.

    As BU academics, can you think of times when you have worked with external or internal organisations and either knowledge transfer or knowledge exchange occurred?

    Which was it, and how did it work in terms of a 2-way process?

    Note: sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference and they can be interchangeable terms in certain circumstances.

  4. Neil Grice

    Dear Matthew, Martyn and YT
    This is a very good debate and one in which I share your collective passion.
    There is no doubt that being involved in Knowledge Transfer/Exchange/Sharing has economic, environmental and societal benefits. In respect of Universities, there is a multiplyer effect as indicated in Matthew’s report of 5th May.
    Pesonally,I don’t concern myself on the title of Transfer or Exchange as anybody who has ever been involved in the activities finds that the r is always a multi-dimensional flow of knowledge. Indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me if we start seeing the term “Knowledge Sharing”.
    The most important element for HE is the myriad of benefits of being involved which include, but are certainly not limited to: student employability, publications (with measurable impact), staff development, potential CPD including higher degrees, income, strategic alliances… the list goes on. KTP has a plethora of examples of these benefits which are monitored and assessed.

    If I may be so bold, I would ask any academic who is not involved in Knowledge sharing (and I include research in this definition), “what gives you the authority to teach?”.

    Again, an interesting discussion and one of increasing importance.

  5. Martyn Polkinghorne

    Thank you Neil.

    As an external person to BU who is working very closely with the Technology Strategy Board, your personal perspective is very interesting and thought provoking.

    “Knowledge Sharing” is a good term and I like it as it implies openness and a willingness to engage with others.