Kick-starters: knowledge transfer in practice

More than half of academics are either not aware of universities’ knowledge transfer services or do not use them, a survey has found

May 9, 2013

Only 43 per cent of the almost 22,000 academics questioned for the survey reported having had some contact with these services. The level was lower for academics from top-rated research departments.

The survey, carried out by the Centre for Business Research and the UK- Innovation Research Centre, and published in a report titled The Dual Funding Structure for Research in the UK, also showed that the most common way of initiating activity with external organisations was for individuals not connected with an institution to contact academics directly: 80 per cent of people cited this channel.

The least used route was university technology transfer offices, which were used to strike up activity only 24 per cent of the time.

“Taken as a whole, the relatively low frequency of links initiated through [knowledge transfer offices] reflects the very wide range of external interactions, many of which do not involve KTO mediation,” reads the report, which was produced for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

elizabeth.gibney@tsleducation.com

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Reader's comments (1)

"More than half of academics are either not aware of universities' knowledge transfer services or do not use them.." On initial reading this might be cause for alarm however there are always at least two ways to interpret any statistic. When you look through the report there are lots of interesting observations regarding academics and their interaction with KT offices. The analysis shows that a much higher portion of academics are involved in a wide range of people-based, problem-solving and community-based activities which don't necessarily require the support or involvement of a KT office. The report also highlights the diverse range of pathways to impact that academics are involved in. "Commercialisation" is only a small part of that landscape and this validates AURIL's inclusive and broad KE approach. For those academics that did engage in traditional commercialisation activities it's heart-warming to see that only a small number reported reaching agreement on IP as a constraint. There is also the possibility that the traditional KT Offices referred to no longer exists having been renamed and given a new broader remit encompassing innovation and enterprise. The other statistic reported looks at how academics initiate activity with external organisations. Again KT offices are bottom of the list with only 24% of academics citing activity with an external organisation being initiated by a KT Office. In my experience the partnerships and relationships that produce the best results do so when they align closely with the academics research interests and goals. The best people to judge this fit are the academics themselves and so it's great to see that over 60% of academics are approaching external organisations directly. It's also great to see that external organisations are contacting academics directly with around 80% of academics saying that activity was initiated in this way. For those academics that aren't in contact with their KT offices I'm sure they're waiting for your call and ready to help set you off on a successful KE journey. To my KT Office colleagues make sure you introduce yourself to the next academic you meet as there's a good chance you're just the person they've been looking for! Alasdair Cameron Executive Director - AURIL

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