Every pound spent on knowledge exchange brings in almost £10 in benefits to the economy and society, a new analysis from the Higher Education Funding Council for England has claimed.
The research has been released amid fears that Higher Education Innovation Funding (Heif) could be cut in November’s spending review.
Each pound from the fund generates £7.30 in economic benefits in the form of knowledge exchange income for universities, according to a regression analysis commissioned by the funding council. It also creates £2.40 in non-economic benefits, the Hefce analysis argued.
The scheme, worth £160m a year, helps to fund interactions between universities and business, public services, charities and communities.
It is spent on activities including joint research and development projects, consultancy and training, and setting up new companies.
But uncertainty hangs over Heif as the spending review approaches, with persistent reports that the business secretary, Sajid Javid, is in favour of deep cuts to his departmental budget.
In a statement, the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s chief executive Madeleine Atkins said that the analysis, “Assessing the economic impacts of the Higher Education Innovation Fund: a mixed method quantitative assessment”, made a “compelling case for Heif funding”.
“The economy and society have benefitted enormously from university knowledge exchange and this is reflected in these research studies,” she added.
“Universities themselves see a wide range of benefits – to their students, staff, research directions and, most importantly, external partners. At Hefce, we take very seriously the return that we must deliver from scarce public money, and here again Heif has delivered substantial and additional benefit for public investment”.