Lancaster University Knowledge Exchange (KE) staff are forging new ways of working across campus, while applying innovative techniques to engagement with both internal and external collaborators.

The ‘One Lancaster’ approach to KE staff has been adopted by Lancaster University, bringing all professional staff undertaking KE related activity formally under one team. The move enables greater responsiveness to different opportunities by more effectively using the collective expertise that exists across the University.

This has included changes to line management to ensure better co-ordination between faculty and centrally based KE activity; the establishment of faculty based professional and academic staff KE leads; and regular meetings and sharing of intelligence. The first of regular ‘One Lancaster Forums’, bringing together all staff within the community, was held in January 2019 with professional development as the topic of discussion.

Undertaken in consultation with professional bodies such as PraxisAuril to ensure coherency with the wider sector, a competency framework is also being developed to support professionals to proactively plan career progression within KE.

Lancaster’s IAA activities

An example of the impact of the innovative approaches being pioneered at the University can be seen through the ‘Impact Acceleration Accounts’ (IAAs). The IAAs are awards provided to universities to support KE and impact from research funded via UK Research and Innovation.

IAA funding provides a key contribution to implementing the Lancaster University’s research, innovation and engagement strategy which has developed since the first IAA award in 2012 to such that the use of research strengths to generate impact through addressing societal challenges is now its core component.

The IAA has helped develop enabling infrastructure and processes that the University plans to use more widely and with a greater variety of its research portfolios. In particular, the IAA has focussed on the University’s key priority objectives such as generating impact from research outcomes, developing the capacity and economic impact of SMEs and enabling sustainable regional growth.

Our approach has focussed on addressing the cultural barriers in university-SME collaborations using funding to both enable new partnerships and develop existing ones. Funding allocations are run in conjunction with facilitated workshops to enable researchers and external partners to explore the potential of partnerships, understand the mutual benefits of collaboration and to develop successful follow on activity.

This bringing together of researchers, businesses and practitioners is exemplified in the successes enjoyed through the Medical Research Council IAA, the first such award Lancaster has received. Clinicians, commissioners and owners/managers from both the NHS and private healthcare providers were brought together with LU academics and businesses from across the North of England for a day of facilitated interactions. This resulted in a total of eleven projects being presented for support that had never existed beforehand and new collaborations that will form the basis for future KE activities.