Knowledge Exchange

Knowledge Exchange

Knowledge Exchange (KE) is at the heart of university-business collaboration. Through KE, academic ideas and research are shared and external perspectives and experiences are contributed.

Knowledge Exchange banner

The KE process both maximises the impact of academic work and enhances it through exposure to new sources of information.

KE between businesses and universities include Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs), Intellectual Property (IP) licensing, consultancy and training. University-business KE can increase revenues for both parties and benefit the UK economy and society.

NCUB aims to clearly define models of KE and best practice as well as establishing the actions and tools needed to increase the scale and quality of university, business and community Knowledge Exchange.

On this page you will find a summary of our relevant work.

Development of the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF)

The creation of an accountability framework for Knowledge Exchange is not without challenge. The exchange of knowledge between universities and the wider economy and society encompasses a wide variety of activities, some of which are easier to observe (and count) than others.

The National Centre has been working with Research England on the development of the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF):

  • In early 2018, NCUB submitted evidence to the KEF Metrics Technical Advisory Group organised by UKRI. As we highlighted in our submission, it will be important for the development of the KEF to take as broad a view of all the elements of knowledge exchange activities and not simply count traditional activities.
  • Held before the opening of the KEF consultation in January 2019, our autumn roundtable series on maintaining the UK’s high standing in the world of knowledge exchange brought together examples of success, ambition and remaining obstacles to better knowledge exchange. We did not confine our discussions to the KEF – we also considered cultural, geographic and even narrative factors to identify opportunities to improve the flow of KE in the UK. Findings from these roundtables were submitted to Research England and devolved funding bodies to build on earlier NCUB advice. Read a blog by NCUB CEO, Dr Joe Marshall, summarising the recommendations. 
  • With the announcement of the KEF consultation in January 2019, and building on the findings from our roundtables, we published two blogs reflecting on what businesses think about the KEF. Read the first blog written by Professor Graeme Reid, Strategic Adviser to NCUB, and the response by Dr Hamish McAlpine, Head of Data and Evidence for Knowledge Exchange at Research England.
  • Read our response to the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) Consultation (March 2019)

Connecting with the Ivory Tower

Our roundtables were not the first time NCUB looked into business perspectives on Knowledge Exchange. In 2013 NCUB contributed to a large-scale survey of UK businesses on how they view the knowledge exchange process, carried out by the UK Innovation Research Centre.

The 'Connecting with the Ivory Tower' survey revealed, for example, that whilst perceptions of barriers to university-business collaboration often focus on timescales and IP protection, the most frequently cited obstacle is internal capacity, with businesses fearing they lack the resources to effectively manage partnerships.

This is one example of NCUB helping business and universities understand each other's perspectives.

Read the report: Connecting with the Ivory Tower: Business Perspectives on Knowledge Exchange in the UK

Easy Access IP Report

Easy Access IP provides for a simple one-page legal agreement for using university Intellectual Property to benefit society. Our 2015 report looked at how well the scheme has worked, in response to a request from the department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Read the report: Easy Access IP: A Preliminary Assessment of the Initiative

Sustaining Knowledge Exchange Income Growth Report

KE activities are a source of income for higher education institutions (HEIs). In 2015 NCUB published a report looking at how universities can continue to grow their income from Knowledge Exchange. This NCUB research report offered new evidence on the patterns of and reasons for sustained growth of KE income across HEIs in the UK.

Read the report: Strategies for Sustaining Growth of Income from Knowledge Exchange across Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the UK

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

In 2012 Research Councils UK (now UKRI) and Innovate UK commissioned NCUB to explore the characteristics of successful Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs).

The resulting report, Key Attributes of Successful Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, details the actions needed to support successful partnerships.

In order to reach practitioners directly, these findings were presented in a more accessible form through the KTP summary report series:

The launch of the summary report series was accompanied by KTP Month, featuring original blogs and case studies across the NUCB website.


If you would like to share your opinions and experiences on this subject, please get in touch.

To learn more about the benefits of being part of the NCUB network, browse our Membership pages or contact our Membership Team.

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