Tagged / knowledge exchange

HEIF-5 strategy approved by HEFCE

I am delighted to share with you the news that BU’s HEIF-5 Strategy was approved by HEFCE at the end of last week securing institutional investment for Knowledge Exchange for the next four years.  In broad terms this is worth around £700k per year in funding.  The strategy was submitted to HEFCE back in July and set out our approach to Knowledge Exchange (formerly referred as enterprise) activity within BU.  Outlined below are the key elements of our new HEIF strategy.  We will be developing the concepts and ideas further within the Fusion Strategy currently being developed.

The aim of the strategy is: to support Knowledge Exchange (KE) that enhances regional/national economic growth while strengthening Bournemouth University’s (BU’s) core business of research and education. At the heart of BU’s new Vision & Values launched July 2011 is the concept of fusion, in which education, research and professional engagement create a distinctive academic proposition in which the sum is greater than the component parts.  It is based on a mutual exchange of ideas with business, is grounded in our research and educational strengths and will drive both regional and national economic growth.  Previously KE (enterprise) has emphasised the revenue stream rather than the inflow of information, in terms of market and commercial intelligence, which is more aligned to our core business.  As a consequence KE has failed to gain widespread traction with staff and growth has been modest.  As part of our new strategy we seek a step change in performance starting with a fundamental change in culture and approach linked to our new Vision & Values that will make BU one of the most trusted knowledge brokers on the south coast driving economic growth and entrepreneurship in selected economic sectors.

Previous Approach (HEIF-4) – Revenue was invested in central infrastructure around innovation & commercialisation, employer engagement, entrepreneurship, and consultancy.  A feature of our investment plan was a fund to pump-prime activity across the entire academic footprint.  Thirty projects were funded and while many have been successful, stimulating valuable business interaction, the lack of strategic focus prevented rapid growth.  Investment returns from commercialisation have been modest.  Areas of strength lie in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) around Health, Engineering and Media where bespoke products have been developed for large organisations (e.g., NHS, Airbus, BBC & MoD). Applied research and consultancy is strong, but exposed to risk being linked to a limited number of clients. Since 2007 an average of 8 Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) schemes per year have generated £640k.  We need to: (1) be more focused, investing not in routine KE activity but in real innovation; (2) capitalise on existing strength in employer engagement; (3) focus on value gained rather than on income derived; (4) focus on, and expand, our key client base building lasting relationships; and (5) disinvest in commercialisation to focus on our strengths in applied research, consultancy and CPD. .

 

Our New Strategy – Best practice in the sector suggests that empowering academics to engage with KE directly through business consultants, minimising expenditure on central support and maximising targeted investment are keys to success.  Central to the new approach is a move away from ‘enterprise’ to ‘knowledge exchange’ where the emphasis is less no longer simply on income derived but value gained from the exchange of knowledge with industry or business.  The true value is the benefit to our core business of research and education.  Our HEIF strategy also distinguishes ‘business as usual’ activity (low-risk) undertaken and funded in all academic Schools from ‘innovation’ (high-risk) to be funded institutionally by HEIF through targeted investment in key themes.

We will create a Business Engagement Unit to coordinate this activity and provide a one stop-portal ensuring continuity in areas of existing success and investment.  We will invest in key innovation themes focused around the creation of networks and also in a modest ‘fusion fund’ to support all innovative ideas.  The Fusion Fund was launched at the start of September via the BU Research Blog (Launch of the BU Fusion Fund).  Outlined below are the five innovation themes to be funded this year (Year One), a further two themes will follow in subsequent years for which there will be an open call to seek the best ideas.

  • Create an International Hub for Visual Film Effects (VFX) based on institutional and industry collaboration, levered from our ‘world class’ research (RAE; 2008 – 70% >3*, GPA 2.85) and our outstanding educational reputation evidenced by the 2010 NESTA report which stated that almost half of the UK VFX industry are BU Graduates. Why? Because the UK has an excellent reputation for VFX and the SW has the second largest Creative Industries sector outside London. The VFX industry is strategically important to the future of film in the UK. VFX was a significant lure for the £575 million of inward film investment in 2010 and is the fastest growing component of the industry growing revenue by 16.8% and its workforce by 16.4% (2006-08). Unlike other creative industry sectors, animation has modelled successful centres of excellence outside London. We have the opportunity to create an international hub for VFX creating jobs, driving economic growth and entrepreneurship on the South Coast while also enhancing BU’s research and education activities. How? By establishing, in collaboration with The Arts University College at Bournemouth, an international VFX Festival; offering office space for VFX firms; by building a training, production and consultancy service; and by linking with the DM Centre for Entrepreneurship.
  • Host an international programme of Design Sandpits for Prosthetic/Medical Engineering using our reputation in medical devices (evidenced by EPSRC grants with industrial partners – prosthetics & strokes; RAE-2008 40% >3* GPA 2.1) to draw in researchers to work with the UK’s leading manufacturers and BU’s visiting faculty of medical practitioners to tackle key design challenges.  Why? Over 25% of all prosthesis users do not use their artificial limbs due to discomfort; the lack of science in their design and fitting is the primary cause. In the UK alone there are around 60,000 below knee amputees. Simple medical devices can help stroke victims of which there are 150,000 each year in the UK with 450,000 severely disabled. The demand for effective medical devices is clear. Within our sub-region we have a number of major manufacturers of medical devices (e.g. Ossur, Otto Bock, Ohio Willow, Dorset Orthopaedics, & Blatchford) who will benefit via international exposure. How? Via sandpits which are intensive multidisciplinary forums which facilitate collaboration between academics, industry and other stakeholders undertaking analysis of pertinent issues, encouraging innovative problem solving that fosters future collaboration.
  • Launch the first National Tourism Business Academy (NTBA) in collaboration with Bournemouth and Poole Tourism Management Boards, the New Forest Tourism Association, and relevant local authorities. The NTBA will accelerate tourism business growth by focusing on visitor experience, ‘state of the art’ research & development, and the creation of a knowledge exchange for all stakeholders. Why? Tourism is a key sub-region industry. Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest collectively attract 2.32 million staying and 12.9 million day visitors per annum, generating £1035 million for their local economies and employing 20,400 people. How? The NTBA will be driven by successful private businesses, informed and guided by leading international tourism academics at BU, and supported by experienced destination management professionals and private-public partnerships in an outstanding coastal resort (Bournemouth) serving as a ‘learning laboratory’. This will be achieved, first regionally and then nationally, via blended learning to support tourism businesses, professional mentoring networks, workshops to improve local business performance and building the foundations for a national tourism business resource by 2014.
  • Create a Science & Technology Hub (STH) with a focus on Environmental Biotechnology, built on BU’s research excellence in Environmental Science (RAE-2008 45% >3* GPA 2.35), collaborative partnerships with businesses in the SW and by targeting EU development funds. Why? The UK’s Department of Trade and Industry estimated that 15-20% of the global environmental market in 2001 was biotech-based amounting to $250-300 billion US per year with projected ten-fold growth over the next five years. In the SW the environmental industry already contributes £220 million but growth is limited by the availability of skills and facilitates. How? Our aim is to first build a SW Science & Technology network focused on an Environmental Science & Technology Festival, providing a showcase for the SW, building capacity and networks to allow us to lever EU funding to develop a regional laboratory network for business and enhance the regional skills base to use it. For example, the SW is the only English region to qualify for convergence, competitiveness and employment funding (Operational Programme 2007-13) and the Competitiveness Programme is Priority 1, focused on knowledge transfer, with £3 million still uncommitted for projects.
  • BU appointed a Chair in Entrepreneurship in 2011 with support from the entrepreneur Dominic Marrocco as part of its commitment to create a Centre for Entrepreneurship (CfE) which aims to provide business development support and create an entrepreneurial ecosystem within the region. Why? Business creation and acceleration is a key objective of the Dorset LEP (See: Question Two). How? It will target sectors associated with creative and environmental industries and focus on the incubation of new ventures, the business acceleration of established firms and the creation of a community of practice, around these sectors, that fosters innovation. The Dominic Marrocco CfE will have a positive effect upon the regional eco-system, promote University/industry interaction, enhance curricular and create opportunities for applied research.

The above themes are identified as core to delivering a step change in BU’s KE performance, are identified for front loaded investment and will deliver maximum return as measured by income, regional/national economic growth, and value to our core business of research and education. We will continue to invest concurrently using BU Funds in our ‘business as usual’ activities in health, media, environmental science, market research, and business management.

Future information and news regarding the HEIF strategy will be published via the Blog.

You can access the BU Vision & Values website here: http://2018.bournemouth.ac.uk/

 

Knowledge exchange and business links are increasingly important in academic promotion

Research commissioned by the Association for University Research and Industry Links (Auril) indicates that experience of knowledge exchange and links with business have become increasingly important to academics trying to win promotion.

Philip Graham, executive director of Auril, stated that “In some job applications, (knowledge transfer) is now rated as desirable, although not essential. Ten years ago it would not have been rated as desirable.”

The majority of survey respondents said that academic promotion depends more on academic teaching and research reputation, however, business links are becoming increasingly more important.

The government’s White Paper on higher education, published in June, says that universities should “look again at how they work with business across their teaching and research activities, to promote better teaching, employer sponsorship, innovation and enterprise.”

HEIF (Higher Education Innovation Funding) exists to support and develop a broad range of knowledge exchange activities between universities and colleges and the wider world, which result in economic and social benefit to the UK. BU submitted its HEIF-5 strategy to HEFCE in July; further information will appear on the blog in due course.

You can read the full story on the AURIL website: Build up the Business Assets if you Want to Get Ahead

ESRC Knowledge Exchange Opportunities

ESRC logoThe ESRC has announced two new calls as part of its Knowledge Exchange Opportunities scheme

The scheme exists to enable researchers to work with individuals and organisations in the private, public and civil society sectors. Knowledge exchange can involve a range of methods but is ultimately about sharing and applying good ideas, research results, experiences and engagement skills. The ESRC fund and manage a range of schemes to support collaborative projects and create a dialogue between researchers and individuals/organisations that have the potential to benefit from social science research.

The two calls that have been announced are:

 – the Follow on Fund scheme

 – the Knowledge Exchange Opportunities scheme

The Knowledge Exchange call is open from 1 September until 27 October 2011 and is aimed at social science researchers at all stages of their career and at organisations in the business, public and civil society sectors, with the intention of encouraging dialogue and collaboration between these groups.

Future calls are scheduled as follows:

  • 12 December 2011 – 6 February 2012
  • 9 April 2012 – 4 June 2012
  • 20 August 2012 – 1 October 2012

Further information is available from the ESRC website: http://www.esrc.ac.uk/funding-and-guidance/collaboration/knowledge-exchange/opportunities/index.aspx

If you are interested in applying to one of these schemes, please contact CRE Operations who will happy to support your application.

Economic Growth, Business & Higher Education

I am just back from a day in London at a posh briefing event which can be summarised as ‘the lunch not much cop, but the talks were surprisingly good and gave me lots to think about’.  So I thought it was worth sharing some of this while it was fresh in my mind.  David Sweeny (Director of Research, Innovation & Skills, HEFCE) started the day talking about REF and impact amongst other things.  One of the things that interested me was the return on investment from business interaction: £4-7 for every £1 spent which is quite good!  But impact is seen as a way of adding to the value of this investment further and the return on the RAE/REF which has consistently placed the UK ahead of the game.  For example, internationally we produce 5% of all the PhD’s globally, 7.9% of all research publications from just 1% of the World’s population!  Staff at BU play an important part in this.

It was the next talk that really made me sit up.  It was from a guy at Oxford Brookes (Kevin Maynard) talking about their approach to enterprise or to use his jargon ‘Knowledge Exchange’.  He was making the point that what is really crucial is that Knowledge Exchange – enterprise by another name – was not about wealth creation for an institution but about the ‘inflow’ of knowledge to inform it core businesses of research and education.  This is an important concept since he argued that it was central to: (1) employability, (2) course development, (3) ensuring research relevance to business/industry/society, and (4) increasing the breadth and capacity of the academic team and its professional development.  What he didn’t say, but is crucial here, is that it is central to a good student experience and staff motivation around enterprise.  I was really impressed by this since it is about the wider benefits to us as academics in engaging with industry/business rather than about simply generating income.  It is worth saying that they are also ahead of the game on that front too, but it is not the driver or what motivates academics to engage and engage they do.  One other point which also struck a cord was the idea of using CPD provision as a market tester for degree programmes; a dam sight cheaper to run up a couple of CPD courses than a whole degree and see it fail for lack of recruitment!

Paul Mason (Head of Development, Technology Strategy Board) was up next and talked about the re-vamp of their strategy due out later this month, but the bit I liked here was that he was talking about being ‘challenge led’ not ‘product driven’.  You start by finding out what the challenges are and then broker a solution based on the range of products or interventions you have available or can source.  This is basically what I have been talking about around BU  in the context of knowledge brokering as a way forward for us.  It is an important point; instead of working out what products we have to sell – CPD, different flavours of consultancy etc. – we need to first find out what challenges business face and want solving.  This fits with the need to be outward rather than inward facing in our approach in developing our new Research & Enterprise Strategy.  If we are to live the idea of providing a student experience in which employability is written large then links to business, industry and the professions are vital and we will need to up our game in these areas and being seen to provid real business/industry solutions is one way to do this.

There were several other speakers who talked about the importance of innovation and generating economic growth within future allocations of HEIF funding and the importance of promoting our success in applying and exploiting our research.  The importance of engaging with Local Economic Partnerships following the demise of the Regional Development Agency was also a common theme and something for us to reflect on as we develop our regional strategy.

The next speaker to make me sit up after my lunch time disappointment was Neil Bowering (Knowledge Transfer Account Manager, at Glasgow) he was talking about the Easy Access IP scheme which Glasgow have pioneered and received large amounts of fame and glory for.  His job is to exploit the IP in the large EPSRC portfolio at Glasgow.  Basically they give the majority of their IP, over 90%, away for free to any third party who can exploit it, keeping just a very small proportion to develop them selves.  It is a highly streamlined process on the basis that getting IP out and out fast is the key and that there is very rarely much money to be made given the cost of exploiting and developing products/ideas for market.  The real key is to make knowledge useful and work for economic growth and society by freely giving it up rather than developing it slowly/poorly, or trying to negotiate at length a stake in its exploitation.   It is the reputational gain that is the key factor and the ongoing dialogue with companies who take on that IP that counts.  Very streamlined, straight forward with four simple conditions on which the IP is given away. University resources directed were they need to be direct.  A fantastic scheme and model for us to look at; certainly one realistic to the nature and quantity of the IP we generate at BU.

Sir Tim Wilson former VC at Hertfordshire and a big wheel in a range of CBI and Business Engagement committees/reviews made a really nice point about a university education.  It is taken for granted by business/employers that graduates will have the key knowledge and the key technical ability, but what they are looking for more than anything are the intellectual skills that will set a graduate apart in the race for jobs.  The ability to critically think is central.   I am sure that our graduates have this but perhaps we should reflect more on how we develop and promote these vital skills?  This links with something that David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce had to say; graduates need work force training.  He particularly was drawing attention to skills of team work, customer service, communications and self management on top of core competency in numeracy, literacy and IT.

The final bit that is worth drawing attention to is from Staffordshire University and their success in producing a ‘one-stop door’ for all business enquires and importance of creating a business sales force within a university that is grounded both in business speak and the culture of academia.  This sales team act as translators projecting a professional sales orientated pitch outwards (based on relationship marketing), while allowing academics to be innovative and creative in their own way.  Effectively they act as the interface between these very different communities and cultures.  There is a lot to learn from this model especially around business relationship marketing and the long lead times involved.  One aside was reference to placements as part of an extended recruitment selection process for graduates which is self evident but worth reflecting on.

So in summary there is lots of good practice out there to learn from and to develop this summer as we evolve BU’s future Research & Enterprise Strategy.

ESRC knowledge exchange opportunities

ESRC logoThe ESRC has announced that the next Knowledge Exchange call will go live on the 26 April 2011 will will be open until the 14 June 2011.

There will be two schemes – the Follow on Fund scheme and the new Knowledge Exchange Opportunities scheme which is an amalgamation of all of the previous KE scheme, i.e. placements and KE small grants. The new scheme allows applicants to apply for a number of activities in one proposal, up to £100k, and it is hoped this will encourage applicants to think creatively about KE/impact and the best mechanisms for achieving these. The scheme is intended as a complement to the Pathways to Impact.

The call is aimed at social science researchers at all stages of their career and at organisations in the business, public and civil society sectors, with the intention of encouraging dialogue and collaboration between these groups.

Knowledge Exchange Opportunities Scheme

This is a new flexible scheme that provides funding for knowledge exchange activities at all stages of the research life-cycle and is intended as a complement to Pathways to Impact.

The scheme provides the opportunity to apply for funding for knowledge exchange activities at any stage of the research lifecycle, and is aimed  at maximising the impact of social science research outside  academia.    The scheme replaces the ESRC Placement Fellowships (all sectors) and Knowledge Exchange Small Grants schemes.

The flexibility built into the scheme is intended to encourage applicants to think creatively about knowledge exchange, and applications are welcomed for either a single activity or a combination of activities; be it setting up a network to help inform the development of a  research proposal, arranging an academic placement with a voluntary or business organisation, or developing  tools such as podcasts and videos aimed at communicating the results of research to non-academic audiences. Some examples of knowledge exchange activities can be found below.

The Follow on Fund Scheme

The aim of this scheme is to provide funding for additional knowledge exchange and impact generating activities to follow on from a specific piece of substantial research that is drawing to an end or has recently finished.

This scheme provides the same flexibility as the Knowledge Exchange Opportunities scheme, and applications for either a single activity, or a combination of activities are welcomed. Follow on funding should be thought of as an extension and complement to the Pathways to Impact section of a research grant.  Applicants are encouraged to think creatively about the format of the knowledge exchange, and to involve research users from the earliest stages of developing the proposal.

Further information is available from the ESRC website: http://www.esrc.ac.uk/funding-and-guidance/collaboration/knowledge-exchange/opportunities/index.aspx

If you are interested in applying to one of these schemes, please contact CRE Operations who will happy to support your application.