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/