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KTN welcomes government push to encourage greater knowledge exchange

Posted on 19/10/2017

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson has called on universities to do more to commercialise their research.

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson has called on universities to do more to commercialise their research, by strengthening links with businesses. The KTN’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme has a key role to play here.

The government is to make a greater investment in knowledge exchange to help universities increase the impact of publicly-funded research.

Addressing the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) annual conference in London on October 12, Mr Johnson highlighted the contribution universities have to make to the Industrial Strategy. “If the research that goes on in our universities is to have the greatest possible impact [they] need to be deeply connected to the wide world,” he told delegates.

Universities play an “outsize role” in the research and innovation system, Mr Johnson said. In the UK 26% of all R&D is carried out in universities, compared to 20% in France, 17% in Germany and 12% in Japan.

“Because they loom so large in our research ecosystem, it is particularly important that our universities engage with the wider world, and help to ensure that their work leads to wider economic and social benefits,” said Mr Johnson.

Currently, the success of universities in promoting innovation tends to focus on technology transfer, IP licensing and spin outs. However, these are far from the only ways in which universities can contribute to innovation and growth, Mr Johnson said, highlighting the importance of collaborative research conducted with businesses and partnerships with companies.

To promote greater knowledge exchange, the government is to develop a Knowledge Exchange Framework to complement the existing Research Excellence Framework and Teaching Excellence Framework, and enable universities to assess how effective they are at business engagement and exchanging knowledge to boost their local economies.

The KTN welcomes this recognition of the importance of establishing channels for knowledge exchange. The mechanisms it has developed over the past decade to foster interchange between academic researchers and companies are at the heart of the UK’s future research and innovation strategy.

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme is a particularly notable example of how the KTN promotes knowledge exchange, helping companies to build close, effective links with a university, to deliver a specific project and embed a new, lasting, capability in the business.

The KTP programme is set to continue to play an important role in the government’s objective of connecting universities to the world. For more details of how KTP strengthens links with businesses see here.