The shortlist for the 2015 RCUK/PraxisUnico Impact Awards for Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation (KEC) professionals highlights the vital role played by KEC professionals working alongside their academic colleagues. This was recognised in the recent Dowling Review which stated "people are central to strong collaborations"; the shortlisted entries demonstrate how UK KEC teams help achieve impact across all areas of business and society, locally and globally from investment in research.
The shortlist shows how UK KEC teams work to support relationships between businesses and the UK’s world-leading university researchers - on a national and international basis, demonstrating a global reach within the 9 shortlisted entries.
In the "Contribution to Society" category, shortlisted entries included Aberystwyth University's project, "The fair and equitable use of Miscanthus (elephant grass) genetic resources in the energy sector", working with countries including Taiwan, South Korea and America; The University of Strathclyde's Portable Eye Examination Kit (Peek), working in countries including Botswana, Kenya, Mali, Malawi and Tanzania; and Public Health England's "Rapid mobilisation and deployment of knowledge in response to a global public health emergency", dealing with Ebola and linking up knowledge in Canada, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Sweden, among others.
The shortlisted projects also demonstrate how good practice by KEC professionals make it easier for universities and their academics to connect their research with where it's needed, and help business-university relationships endure and reach their full potential. Some of the achievements which feature in the shortlist range from increasing employment in the local community to creating new global templates for international agreements.
Investment in collaborative R&D delivers real benefits to the UK, and in the "Contribution to Business" category this is exemplified by the shortlisted entries: Coventry University's "The Unipart-Coventry University Partnership” working with companies such as Aston Martin, Ford and Jaguar Land Rover to deliver upskilled staff and technological innovations; University of Leicester, ASDEC (Advanced Structural Dynamics Evaluation Centre) providing an outsourced, flexible and cost-effective, specialist resource that frees up engineers' time to work on significant issues affecting product development; and the University of Strathclyde's Cascade Technologies Ltd, providing technology delivering a powerful solution for the petrochemical, food and beverage, marine, automotive and pharmaceutical industries.
A common feature of the success of the nominees in the RCUK/PraxisUnico Impact Awards, is the hard work and determination of the KEC teams to make the interface between businesses/users and academics as simple as possible. The Dowling Review noted that "the complexity of the policy support mechanisms for research and innovation poses a barrier to business engagement in collaborative activities, especially for small businesses". The "Outstanding KEC Initiative" shortlist demonstrates how KEC professionals work to help remove some of these barriers to business engagement.
Shortlisted for this category is Isis Innovation's SME Smart IP Scheme, specifically helping SMEs overcome obstacles to engage with university IP; Cardiff Metropolitan University's KITE (Knowledge Innovation Technology Exchange) Project which created a sector-specific mechanism for SMEs in the food and drink sector to access the knowledge held within the University to improve their businesses; and Lancaster University and partners University of Liverpool and Inventya Ltd's Centre for Global Eco-Innovation which was created to address low levels of innovation in SMEs and use graduate research to overcome low capacity levels in SMEs.
All projects shortlisted are underpinned by strong relationships facilitated by the KEC teams, to drive work towards a shared goal, and align stakeholders with a common vision for the wider benefits that can be derived from collaborations. A feature common too many of the projects is the sustained effort required over many years, building relationships and supporting the development of research outputs to drive impact. This long-term commitment is something which the Dowling Review recognises as a critical factor for successful collaboration.
The full list of shortlisted entries is as follows:
Contribution to Business Shortlist
Contribution to Society Shortlist
Outstanding KEC Initiative Shortlist
The RCUK/PraxisUnico Impact Awards for KEC professionals provide a platform for sharing best practices in knowledge exchange and breakdown barriers between universities and users of research. The winners of the competition will be announced during a business networking event in London in September 2015.
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About the Impact Awards
PraxisUnico and the Research Councils (under RCUK) are working together to facilitate the sharing of best practice, and to acknowledge and celebrate the work that Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation (KEC) professionals do in enabling impact from UK research organisations.
The Impact Awards for KEC Professionals:
PraxisUnico is the UK's leading professional association for knowledge exchange and commercialisation (KEC) practitioners. It provides a voice for the sector and facilitates interactions between public sector research, business and government. PraxisUnico delivers continuing professional development programmes, tools and services around the world, promoting best practice knowledge transfer. In the past 10 years it has trained over 3300 practitioners from over 40 countries. www.praxisunico.org.uk
Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK’s seven Research Councils. Our collective ambition is to ensure the UK remains the best place in the world to do research, innovate and grow business. The Research Councils are central to delivering research and innovation for economic growth and societal impact. Together, we invest £3 billion in research each year, covering all disciplines and sectors, to meet tomorrow’s challenges today. Our investments create new knowledge through: funding research excellence; responding to society’s challenges; developing skills, leadership and infrastructure; and leading the UK’s research direction. We drive innovation through: creating environments and brokering partnerships; co-delivering research and innovation with over 2,500 businesses, 1,000 of which are SMEs; and providing intelligence for policy making. Find out more about our work at www.rcuk.ac.uk.
The seven UK Research Councils are: