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Knowledge Exchange Framework

Background and Aims:

The aim of the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) is to increase efficiency and effectiveness in the use of public funding for knowledge exchange and to further a culture of continuous improvement in universities. The benchmarking activity which the KEF provides enables universities to better understand and therefore improve their own performance, as well as provide businesses and other users with more information to help them access our world-class knowledge and expertise.

The Benchmarking Process:

The KEF assigned universities to different “clusters”. Leeds was placed into Cluster V - described by UKRI as “very large, very high research-intensive and broad-discipline universities undertaking significant amounts of excellent research.”

Alongside Leeds in Cluster V are 17 other leading English universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, UCL, King’s, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Nottingham, Sheffield, Southampton, London Business School, Queen Mary University of London, Bristol, Warwick and Exeter.

University of Leeds Performance:

The KEF was launched in March 2021 and is an exercise that repeats annually. The results of the KEF are based on the most recent 3-years’ worth of data as collected via the Higher Education Business and Community Interaction (HEBCI) survey.

The results from the second iteration of the KEF (2022) placed Leeds in the top 20 per cent of English Higher Education institutes for working with businesses, developing IP and commercialising research.

Since 2019, the University of Leeds has created spinouts which have employed over 1,200 people; had a turnover of £968.7m; and external investment of £142m. Over this period, the University also supported the creation of 12 new spinouts, and the Northern Gritstone Investment Company secured its first close of funds (£215m) in 2021/22. The University of Leeds Student Enterprise Programme Spark (Annual Report 2022) has also supported 160 new business start-ups, generating c. £3m in revenue, and creating over 70 jobs.

We are also one of the country’s leading universities for working with small local firms to big businesses.

Since 2019, the Nexus community has grown to over 135 member businesses (90% building occupancy), created almost 200 jobs, raised £65.2m in private investment and £24.1m of public collaborative R&D funding and delivered over 250 student engagement activities. Nexus also has a healthy pipeline (including international businesses) with the ambition to rapidly scale-up over the next few years.

Supporting local growth and maximising our role as an anchor institution are embedded within our knowledge exchange priorities.

The University collaborates extensively within the Leeds, West Yorkshire and Yorkshire & Humber geography, working with many civic bodies, including West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Leeds City Council, other district authorities in the wider region, the voluntary sector, Yorkshire Universities and regionally-based organisations such as the UK Infrastructure Bank. Complementing and informing our local and regional work, the University also has a significant national and international footprint where we engage with partners to advance knowledge and design solutions to global challenges. We work with national institutes including Henry Royce, Rosalind Franklin and Alan Turing Institutes, Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Livestock, and the Met Office to enhance the University’s contribution to UK growth and competitiveness.

Results from the KEF also recognise Leeds as one of best universities in England for public and community engagement.  

Working with partners to co-create projects and activities which add to the region’s vibrancy, from festivals and exhibitions to green spaces and regeneration initiatives.  Our Public Engagement Team have worked with 3,080 academic and KE staff and held 72 PE-focussed training sessions to embed an engaged culture across the institution. Since 2019, the University has engaged with more than one million members of the public in various ways, including the University’s flagship annual public engagement event, Be Curious: Live.

The KEF results highlight the quality and relevance of the technologies and innovations developed by University of Leeds researchers, and our expertise in translating and applying knowledge and ideas externally.

To view our latest KEF outcomes, which are updated annually in September, please visit the Research England KEF Dashboard.

These KEF Supporting Narratives are part of the KEF submission.  They are updated and published in a three year cycle, with the next set of updates due to be published in September 2023.