Westminster Higher Education Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
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The future of the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) and Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF)

Morning, Thursday, 10th September 2020

Online Conference


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will focus on the future of the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) and the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF).

It follows recent changes to the timeline for the implementation of the KEF following disruption caused by COVID-19 and will now take place shortly before submissions for the first iteration of KEF which are required by 16th October 2020.

Further developments that are relevant to the discussion:

  • Recent publication of the  Government’s UK Research and Development Roadmap and consultation with the higher education, business and third sectors - and within government - on priorities and targets for investment in R&D so as to achieve economic and societal benefits, and ambitious positioning of the UK in global science
  • The recent updates to KEF indicating that institutions are now able to include their work during the COVID-19 pandemic within their submissions
  • Knowledge exchange and the response to COVID-19:
    • establishment of a ministerial advisory group to identify and share information on knowledge exchange activity and the sustainability of university research in response to COVID-19
    • the role played by HEIs and knowledge exchange during the pandemic - including scientific research and advice, the work of student doctors, and HEIs as community anchor institutions
  • The KE Concordat by UUK outlining the guiding mission principles for Knowledge Exchange activities by HEIs
  • Studies from Research England:
    • review of the HEIF allocation method, which is the first stage in a HEIF reform programme and likely to set out the future of HEIF links with KEF
    • the report around clustering and narrative templates, which set out the revised KEF cluster descriptions and provided confirmation of cluster placements
  • Government’s decision to increase HEIF totals to £250m from 2020/21 as part of its Industrial Strategy
  • HESA’s review of HE-BCI - the Higher Education - Business and Community Interaction Collection - whose data provides many of the metrics for KEF. The business case for the new survey will be entering the design phase at the time of this conference

The discussion in detail:

  • Preparations for the first iteration of the KEF, the results of which are now set to be published in December 2020, with the submission deadline in October 2020
  • Stakeholder experiences of the KEF process as they prepare for the first iteration, including:
    • whether the outcomes accurately will portray the breadth of Knowledge Exchange (KE) activity being undertaken by institutions
    • if the metrics that are used are likely to sufficiently capture quality as well as quantity
    • assessing the likely effects of introduction of the KEF on the shape of KE activities in universities and the level of focus placed on this ‘third mission’ of HEIs going forward
  • With the HE-BCI data underpinning many of the KEF’s metrics on which universities will be judged, delegates will consider:
    • the proposed changes to the data that will be requested of universities
    • the way it is captured, processed and presented
    • how these changes may affect the KEF
  • The impact of the review’s recommendations on how HEIF operates - and in particular the extent to which decisions will be linked to outcomes of the KEF
  • Following the Government’s decision to expand the size of HEIF:
    • the priority areas for the use of HEIF investment and ensuring its equitable impact-based distribution
    • how these align with the Industrial Strategy
    • the extent to which the impact of projects funded by HEIF are captured by KEF

The agenda:

  • The first KEF and reforming HEIF - the state of play and where next
  • Assessing the first KEF cycle, its impact, and the next steps for the framework
  • Relevance of the KE Concordat in a post-COVID-19 world
  • The future for HEIF - priorities, expansion, the allocation method, and the link to KEF
  • Universities and the Industrial Strategy: the government’s vision for knowledge exchange

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

This one is no different. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, and officials from BEIS; UKRI; the Intellectual Property Office; MHCLG; the Department for International Trade and the Department for Transport.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

Alice Frost

Director of Knowledge Exchange, Research England

Keynote Speakers

Professor Trevor McMillan

Vice-Chancellor, Keele University, Chair, UUK and Research England KE Concordat Task and Finish Group and Chair, Research England KE Framework Steering Group

Alice Frost

Director of Knowledge Exchange, Research England


Chi Onwurah MP

Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy, Science and Innovation


Dr Phil Clare

Deputy Director, Research Services (Knowledge Exchange and Engagement), University of Oxford

Sean Fielding

Chair, PraxisAuril

Jonathan Eddy

Director of Innovation and Research Funding, Falmouth University

Dr Joe Marshall

Chief Executive Officer, National Centre for Universities and Business

Tomas Ulrichsen

Research Associate, Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, University of Cambridge

Dr Alicia Greated

Chief Executive Officer, Knowledge Transfer Network

Matthew Guest

Policy Manager, Research, Knowledge Exchange and Industrial Strategy, GuildHE

Pippa Coutts

Policy and Development Manager, Carnegie UK Trust

Dr Kathryn Walsh

Director of Knowledge Exchange Policy and Practice, University College London