Loughborough excels in Research England’s first Knowledge Exchange Framework

The significant contribution Loughborough University makes to the regional economy and society has been highlighted by Research England’s first Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), released today (Wednesday 31 March).

The KEF data looks at the performance of English Higher Education Providers (HEPs) from a variety of different perspectives, including public and community engagement, working with partners ranging from big businesses to small local firms, and how HEPs commercialise their research. It also groups institutions into ‘clusters’ of peers – institutions with similar characteristics such as how much research they do and in what subject areas. Loughborough University is in Cluster X, which is described as “large, research intensive and broad-discipline Universities undertaking a significant amount of excellent research”.

Overall in the KEF, Loughborough is in the top 10% of all English HEPs for the ‘Working with business’ metric, and the top 20% for ‘Local growth and regeneration’.

Its performance in the KEF highlights the University’s value as a local and regional anchor institution, providing new opportunities through its many academic spin-outs, as well as attracting other employers to the area through its continued investment in Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park (LUSEP), part of Loughborough and Leicester Science and Innovation Enterprise Zone

The 97-hectare site is now home to more than 90 businesses, including the Access Group – a leading provider of business management software to mid-sized organisations – whose global headquarters were completed at LUSEP in 2020. Leicestershire County Council has invested in the new development in an innovative move which will see revenue of £1.6m a year to support vital front-line county council services.

A 30-year partnership with Rolls-Royce has also led to a £14 million national research facility on LUSEP. The National Centre in Combustion and Aerothermal Technology (NCCAT) is driving the UK development of future low-emission aerospace combustion systems.

At the University’s East London campus on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Loughborough is the lead academic partner in one of the largest regeneration projects ever seen in the UK and it works in consultation with the local community to deliver mutually beneficial activities that transform lives and communities.

Speaking about its success in the KEF, Professor Tracy Bhamra, Loughborough’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise said: “The KEF reinforces the University’s strategic commitment to work closely with local partners to enhance the social, cultural and economic wellbeing of the communities and regions in which we reside. Enterprise is embedded across the University’s activities, enhancing student experience, creating impact from research, and driving regional prosperity.”

Executive Chair of Research England David Sweeney added: “Universities’ engagement with society through Knowledge Exchange is an essential part of their mission alongside research and teaching. 

“The Knowledge Exchange Framework will help universities understand where their strengths are, relative to others with similar missions. It showcases a diverse picture of the tremendous work they do in their places, nationally and internationally.”

This is the first time that detailed, qualitative information about how HEPs build community engagement and promote growth in their local areas has been collected together in a structured and systematic way allowing for easy comparison. The narratives in the KEF paint a detailed, never seen before picture of how HEPs engage with their communities to build deeper relationships and to stimulate local growth. To view Loughborough’s full KEF dashboard click here and select ‘Loughborough University’ from the dropdown menu.

About the KEF

For more information about the KEF, including about clusters, perspectives and metrics, please take a look at the technical notes on the KEF website.

The majority of the data that form the metrics of the KEF comes from the long-standing HESA Higher Education Business and Community Interaction (HE-BCI) survey, supported by:

  • Narratives provided by the institutions that inform the local growth and regeneration and public & community engagement perspectives
  • Data provided by Innovate UK
  • Data provided by Elsevier

All institutions in receipt of a Research England Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) allocation in 2019-20 are included in the exercise. Some institutions who were eligible for HEIF but did not meet the threshold for an allocation have still elected to participate in the KEF.

The clusters are not ranked, and the KEF is not a league table.

Research England will conduct a review of the first iteration of the KEF to inform how it develops in the future. The KEF is not currently used to inform funding.