National success for University’s knowledge sharing scheme

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Professor Sue Smith

UCLan has won the Internal Knowledge Exchange Initiative of the Year award

A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) knowledge transfer initiative has won a national award.

The Institution’s Knowledge Exchange Community of Practice: UCLan Centre for Small, Medium Enterprise (SME) Development was selected as the winner of the Internal KE (Knowledge Exchange) Initiative of the Year at the KE Awards 2020.

Professor Sue Smith, Interim Director of Innovation and Enterprise and Chair of the Centre for SME Development, said: “We are delighted the Community of Practice (CoP) has been given this national recognition. The CoP was set up to support and grow innovation and enterprise/knowledge exchange activity and colleagues have made significant impacts across the University because of the CoP. Thank you to everyone involved.”

The KE Awards help to fill-out the story of UK innovation, by recognising and celebrating the KE professionals working behind the scenes to take research out into the world.

UCLan’s Centre for SME Development was highlighted in the Government’s Industrial Strategy as ‘excellent’ in responding to business needs and cited by the Universities Minister as an “impressive initiative” of KE and interaction.

Led by Professor Smith, the Centre for SME Development’s adoption of CoPs created a significant and transformational impact on KE within UCLan. The CoP has delivered performance improvements by challenging the status quo, bridging teaching, research and practice, crossing the academic/research/professional services boundaries and providing specialist support and space for the CoP to flourish. It has been a ground-breaking model; allowing for knowledge exchange, learning, value creation and positive impact on the practice within the University.

Adopted by global companies and institutions, including JP Morgan and The World Bank, UCLan is pioneering its use in Higher Education to strategically grow its knowledge exchange activity. This strategy is based on creating an environment that allows for knowledge exchange and collaboration across campus and beyond and supporting colleagues and students who undertake KE-based activities so that everyone benefits from new ways of working and all types of capital (social, educational, financial and emotional).

The gathering of like-minded colleagues to engage with the KE agenda was the first step in taking greater advantage of a University environment. The idea is to help staff in the pursuit of sharing ambitions, shaping KE activities and making a difference, realising even more value.

This social learning approach to KE has resulted in a sea-change in the environment at UCLan the model is progressive and transformative; and a benchmark for other universities.

The KE Awards, organised by PraxisAuril and sponsored by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), celebrate the people who help to initiate and deliver impact and outcomes from publicly funded research through a diverse range of partners and activities. This celebration of knowledge exchange is more relevant than ever in 2020, as UK universities and research organisations mobilise quickly in response to the COVID-19 crisis. This has demonstrated the value of long-term investment in the research base and also in knowledge exchange.

Tamsin Mann, Director of Policy and Communications at PraxisAuril, said: “All too often when we tell the story of UK innovation, the emphasis is placed on the beginning and end of the process. Many of our stories about knowledge exchange miss the important middle: the people, initiatives and activities that make those impacts and outcomes possible. The KE Awards help to fill-out the story of UK innovation, by recognising and celebrating the KE professionals working behind the scenes to take research out into the world. KE is a people business and it’s fantastic to see our members recognised for their achievements in these awards.”

Dr Tony Soteriou, Director of Commercialisation at UK Research and Innovation, added: “UK Research and Innovation is delighted to sponsor this year’s KE Awards.  We are passionate about the important role of KE and we welcome this opportunity to celebrate success. The winners represent the very best of KE activities and skilled people, across a brilliantly diverse mix of initiatives.”

Rachel Atkinson | 03 July 2020