At Lancaster University we aim to apply our ideas, knowledge, technologies, skills and services regionally, nationally and internationally to the benefit of society, partners and stakeholders. We do so by pursuing research at the highest international level, creating a stimulating and innovative learning environment for all students and staff and working in international, national and regional collaborations to enhance economic, cultural and social well-being. We aspire to excellence in all our fields of work and to distribute and exchange knowledge and expertise generated from research and teaching through dialogue with all parts of society, public bodies, business, and individuals.

We work with both public and private bodies regionally, nationally and internationally and are rated as the leading university for research excellence in the North West of England. Over 5,000 small and medium companies have worked with the University since 2005 and we have been partners in over £8M of research projects directly with industry in the last 5 years. It is estimated that our value to the local economy is greater than £300 million per year. We provide over 3,500 students per year into the workforce globally.

Our knowledge exchange strategy has the following objectives:

  • To ensure that the world class research we do has appropriate and maximum impact.
  • To make our expertise available to all organisations that will benefit from it.
  • To give our students the skills and knowledge that enables them to make a substantial contribution to the workforce in the UK and beyond.

In quantitative terms our aim is that 20% of our research activity should be undertaken in collaboration with private sector partners. We do this through:

  • Collaborative Research: We actively pursue collaborative partnerships adding value to our research, teaching and knowledge exchange activities and that also benefit our partners’ goals and aspirations
  • Consultancy: We further promote knowledge exchange from our academic knowledge base to the wider business and non-commercial community through a variety of consulting activities
  • Exploitation of intellectual property, created as a result of our research work usually in collaboration with companies to exploit the IP which when appropriate also involves the creation of spinout companies.
  • Economic Regeneration, such as work undertaken for small and medium enterprises (using third party funding such as ERDF or NWDA grants wherever possible so that costs to the companies are minimised)
  • Student Placements into the public, private and voluntary sectors, which enhances relevant employment skills of our students and complements overall collaborative research agenda through the combined engagement of companies, graduate students and their supervisors working together to provide solutions for particular problems
  • Enterprise awareness training and encouragement for both staff and students that includes fair, transparent and consistent policies and practices for the exploitation of IP.

Knowledge exchange activities are embedded across the University. We have in addition three major centres dedicated to working with businesses of all sizes. These are:

  • InfoLab21 a world-class centre for ICT research and business collaboration that includes knowledge business space exclusively reserved for companies working with us on projects as well as a virtual centre for associate member companies and specific ICT focussed student placement programmes
  • The Manley Building our environment knowledge exchange centre in the Lancaster Environment Centre (itself a £20M joint investment between the University and the Natural Environment Research Council).
  • The Lancaster Leadership Centre: the flagship research, teaching and outreach centre for our Management School, one of the leading schools in the country.

All three were funded by the regional development agency NWDA. InfoLab21 and the Manley Building were also grant funded by ERDF. Each of these centres maps the University’s research and knowledge base to nationally and regionally strategic economic clusters and regeneration priorities.

The University has long-standing experience of working with other institutions in order to maximise the reach of its activities. In our region we are working with Liverpool and Manchester universities together with NWDA on the Daresbury Science & Innovation Campus together with the Cockcroft Institute (a leading centre for accelerator science co-funded by the STFC and NWDA), the NW-GRID, a partnership between STFC Daresbury and the Universities of Lancaster, Liverpool and Manchester, providing leading edge computational infrastructure and the N8 group of universities working together on a range of business-facing research projects funded by NWDA under the Northern Way initiative, Yorkshire Forward and OneNorthEast. This is in addition to the many collaborative projects we work on with leading international universities.

We set ourselves rolling targets that measure our knowledge exchange activities and we publish each year a performance report that measures our progress against these targets.

Knowledge exchange activities are scrutinised by the University’s governing Council through the Knowledge Exchange committee that reviews and gives guidance on these matters as well as receiving annual performance reports.

The central administrative knowledge exchange team within the University, Research and Enterprise Services Division (RES), acts as the focal point for the provision of services that both underpin and promote this mission. RES objectives are to maximise the extent of its service provision for both external stakeholders and staff alike engaged in knowledge exchange activities.

We also have specific formal partnerships with various private companies including Qinetiq where we are one of seven universities in their universities partnership and Waitrose which sponsors the Waitrose Centre for Sustainable Agriculture within the Lancaster Environment Centre. A model of business interaction that we have developed is exemplified by the Centre for Performance-led HR which has a membership of fifteen large companies and public organisations co-funding research in HR.