Industrial Strategy & Knowledge Exchange

Our Policy Position

“Knowledge Exchange” is often seen as the “third mission” of universities. It’s about how universities and colleges engage with the wider world and make a difference in local, regional and national economies and societies.

GuildHE members believe knowledge exchange is a core part of their business, be it through translating excellent research into practical solutions or supporting micro businesses increase their productivity.

We engage with government, UKRI, Research England, Office for Students to support our members in three main areas:

Industrial Strategy
The UK’s Industrial Strategy was launched in 2017 and higher education providers provide several key roles in delivering it. We engage with government to demonstrate how small and specialist higher education providers are part of the solution to the government’s productivity challenges.

Small and specialist providers can and do contribute to the Industrial Strategy’s Five Foundations, especially Ideas, People and Places.
– Ideas. We welcome the focus on increased applied research. We argue there should be a reasonable phasing of increasing expenditure over the period (2018-2027) that enables all parts of the sector to keep pace and develop capacity to deliver on – Industrial Strategy goals. You can find out more on our Research and Innovation page.
– People. Specialist providers can offer solutions to technical skills challenges. They are ideally placed to deliver degree apprenticeships. You can find out more on our Skills page.
– Place. We welcome the focus on investing in outside of the “Golden triangle of London, Oxford and Cambridge. Our members are located throughout the UK, often in parts of the country without another higher education provider. They act as economic anchors for their regions, for their industries or as innovative disruptors within their locality.

Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF)
We are supporting the development of the Knowledge Exchange Framework. In consultations and engagement with Research England we are making the following points:
– The KEF must therefore adopt a broad definition of knowledge exchange to recognise the fullest range of interactions
– If the KEF is to act in part as a performance management tool, then any funding associated with it must not disqualify institutions based upon size and location
– The KEF offers the chance to experiment in developing new funding interventions

You can find out more about our views on the KEF from our blogs and consultation responses (linked to at the bottom of this page).

As part of our knowledge exchange policy work, we argue for fair and proportional funding to support knowledge exchange activities within small and specialist higher education providers.
– Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) is a vital source of funding for knowledge exchange. However, many small and specialist providers, especially those in poorer parts of the country, lost that funding in 2011 as part of government cuts. We recommend that there is a review and broadening of the terms of HEIF, specifically that the current £250k income threshold limit is either scrapped or significantly reduced.
– Large grants that include high levels of match funding will not work in all cases. A better ecology of grants will lead to more efficient practices and a wider diversity of recipients of funding, both in terms of people and places.
– For the Industrial Strategy to be successful, more experimental funding will be needed. This is why we welcome funding such as the the Research England Development (RED) Fund.