Academics and professionals in discussion

Knowledge Exchange Strategy

Since its introduction in 2009, the Collaborative Partnerships initiative has established a novel platform across Lancashire and Cumbria for supporting knowledge exchange between Lancaster University and the NHS.

Tab Content: Context

The initiative has enabled, for the first time, knowledge exchange between the University and the NHS to be developed and facilitated within a strategic and supportive framework. The initiative enables partners to work together to build capability and infrastructure, enhance their collective success in attracting skills and resource into the area, and increase the scope and impact of outputs and deliverables from collaborative projects and programmes.

From the outset our approach has been tailored to local need and capability, acknowledging both the comparatively modest historical baseline of pre-existing knowledge exchange activity and the strong potential for growth across Lancashire and Cumbria, in parallel with the development of Lancaster Medical School and the Faculty of Health and Medicine.

The initial goal was to achieve effective and productive engagement between the Faculty and a wide range of external organisations in the context of high-quality collaborative research, innovation, and professional training and development in medicine, biomedical sciences, health & social care, and related areas.

An additional goal was to establish a robust framework for further development and sustainability, based on strategic partnerships with external organisations and involving joint planning, development and utilisation of physical infrastructure, skilled personnel and collective expertise.

Taking account of the initial strategy, and building upon the substantial progress which has been made during the first three years, this document sets out a strategy for further development of the initiative from 2014 onwards. It comprises the overarching core strategy, together with “sub strategies” from each partner organisation expressing their particular priorities in relation to this initiative.

Tab Content: Vision

The Partnership will be recognised globally as a major platform for driving and supporting knowledge exchange between Lancaster University, the NHS, the University of Cumbria and other public and private sector organisations. It will have a key role not only in the planning, funding and delivery of collaborative programmes of research, innovation and professional development, but also in shaping and leading local organisational strategy and policy in these fields.

Tab Content: Shared values

All partners accord strong importance to:

  • The value of excellent research, innovation and CPD as a fundamental requirement for advancing healthcare through high-quality, evaluative, evidence-based practice.
  • The mutual benefits of working within strong partnerships, both to ensure that targets and deliverables are achieved and to enable organisations to participate successfully in larger networks.
  • The clinical, scientific, economic and moral imperatives to advance the profile and standing of Lancashire and Cumbria in this field, and to enable the population to benefit accordingly in terms of improved health and economic growth.

Tab Content: Key activities

The Partnership will build upon key activities and deliverables which have been established during the first three years, namely:

  • Externally-funded, locally-led collaborative projects for research and innovation.
  • Systems and processes to support robust governance for collaborative projects and initiatives within the Partnership.
  • Programmes to build local capability and infrastructure for research, innovation and professional practice.
  • Development and training for future leaders in health research and innovation.
  • Engagement, support and partnership with Industry, particularly SMEs, and local councils.
  • Joint working, liaison and collaboration with larger networks, particularly within the North West Coast and across the North of England.

The Partnership has been extremely successful in supporting involvement of a remarkably wide range of academic disciplines across all four Faculties at Lancaster University, and a wide range of clinical disciplines within the partner NHS organisations. It has gained a strong reputation for thorough and successful delivery of different activities within these domains.

Over the next three years we aim to ensure that the Partnership realises its potential as an excellent vehicle not only for knowledge generation and for personal and organisational development, but also for enabling the application of knowledge and skills to enhance patient care, innovative practice and organisational development.

Strategic aims and priorities


  • Increase the income, output, impact and national standing of the Partnership in research and innovation through successful collaboration and joint working between partner organisations.

    Local NHS / University collaboration in research and innovation, driven by the Hub, has increased substantially since 2009 and has led already to significant success in terms not only of grant capture but also of building capability, for example through supporting NIHR IATs, delivering postgraduate programmes, and involving staff in all faculties at Lancaster University.

    Building upon the foundations which have been laid since 2009, we shall:

    • Extend the Hub’s record of success in grant capture from research councils, charities and other funding organisations.
    • Work in partnership with other large organisations and networks (for example, N8, NHSA) to access other funding opportunities, including larger scale 
      infrastructure and programme funds.
    • Develop further our links with the business sector and local / national government to generate joint funding bids around research and innovation.
    • Develop further our internal infrastructure and base of expertise in relevant methodologies, techniques and facilities to enhance the scope of our activities.
    • Identify, and begin to develop and prioritise, themes with high potential for distinctiveness, based upon interdisciplinary approaches and drawing upon local strengths.

    Within the timeframe of this strategy we aim to increase the scope of funding streams accessed by the Partnership to support collaborative projects and initiatives. This will include successful bidding for large-scale programme grants and investigator awards, and for major infrastructure awards, as well as for further project grants.

    The Partnership has achieved an annual increase on financial return on research investment (RORI) for each of the three years to date, culminating in a ratio of 2.29 in 2012-13. Building upon this, we shall review our current investment model with the aim of establishing a robust model to enable continuing annual increase in financial RORI. We aim to identify and implement an investment model to enable the Partnership to achieve a financial RORI ratio of at least 5 by 2017.

  • Establish the Partnership as a major focus for interdisciplinary , cross-sectoral knowledge exchange in health and medicine across the region, tailored to local need, strengths and capability.

    The Partnership is increasingly recognised within Lancaster University as a key strategic interface with the NHS, and vice versa. It also provides an important framework for enabling collective engagement of all partners with Industry, the NWC
    AHSN, other sectors and larger networks.

    We shall develop further the purpose and profile of the Partnership with the aim of maximising its potential, from both a scientific and governance perspective, to provide an efficient and cost-effective platform for cross-sectoral collaboration and knowledge exchange.

  • Realise the strong potential of the Partnership to implement new models for supporting professional development for staff in all sectors.


    Growing recognition of the utility, potential and success of the negotiated work-based learning framework, developed by CETAD, to support the professional development in both the public and private sector has opened up exciting new possibilities to develop further and apply this model in novel settings. We shall take this forward both as a Partnership and as individual organisations, and shall work closely with key regional and national organisations responsible for workforce training and development, including LETBs, to maximise our profile and impact.

  • Build upon the existing governance and business model of the Partnership to enhance its value and sustainability.

    Using the experience gained during the first three years we shall strengthen our joint partnership agreements around governance, funding and operation, and we shall implement an agreed code of practice to support joint working and joint deliverables between partner organisations.

  • Work strategically with the NWC AHSN, the NWC LCRN and the NWC CLAHRC to ensure the success and global reputation of the North West Coast in health research and innovation.

    The Partnership will work closely and strategically with these emerging new Networks not only to contribute to their success across a larger geographic footprint, but also to enable the Partnership to lead collectively initiatives within these Networks for which appropriate expertise and professional standing is housed within its member organisations.

  • Increase the Partnership’s global identity and profile through enhanced branding, marketing and communications.

    We shall develop a new website, introduce the use of LinkedIn and Twitter, participate in national / international conferences and events, and explore other approaches towards enhancing our marketing and communications. As part of this, we propose to name the overall initiative 'Health Lancaster', and to rename the Hub 'Lancaster Health Hub'.

Organisational sub-strategies - Lancaster University

These focus on specific aspects of the overall strategy which are pertinent to each partner organisation.

The University's knowledge exchange (KE) in health and medicine, supported by funding from HEIF5, is driven by the Faculty of Health and Medicine but involves all four faculties. The Faculty KE programme, led by Professor Goodacre and Jane O'Brien, encompasses a range of partnerships with public and private sector organisations in the context of collaborative research, innovation, CPD and professional development.

Having achieved a steep trajectory of success and external engagement over the first three years, our strategy for 2014-17 will focus on:


  • Enabling a coherent, University-wide approach to strategic planning and delivery for KE in Health & Medicine.

    We shall build upon the record of cross-faculty working in KE which has been established through HEIF 5 to develop and implement an agreed structure for KE in Health & Medicine across the University. Within this, the Collaborative Partnerships structure will provide a focus for engagement, facilitation and advice to enable the University to work with public and private sector organisations, including the NHS, in this field. It will also provide leadership for 'big' projects involving cross-faculty collaboration and multiple partners, and for organisation of and participation in large conferences and events, including the forthcoming LU 50th Anniversary Life Sciences conference and NHS EXPO 2014.

    This work will be developed in consultation with the Deputy VC, colleagues in RES, the Faculty HEIF leads, and Faculty PRCs. The outcomes will be reflected in the development of a coherent approach across the University for communications and marketing in this field.

  • Enhancing our systems, organisational structures and capacity to support delivery and sustainability.

    Having used HEIF5 support to prove the value of the underpinning concept and to establish a skilled team and appropriate infrastructure (none of which were previously in place) to deliver the activity, we recognise the need for increased capacity to enable the strong potential of the partnership to be realised. We shall explore this by:

    • Implementing the recently-established framework for honorary appointments of NHS staff, so that such staff can contribute to the continuing growth of the Partnership.
    • Exploring joint clinical academic appointments with NHS partners, to support the development through involvement of new staff.
    • Identifying and developing the case for capacity in key areas, for example, project management and bid preparation.
    • Periodically reviewing the cost-efficacy of our existing structure to ensure that we are maximising 'value for money' in terms of available resource.
    • Increasing available income for investment in additional posts and sessional support through successful grant applications, external consultancy, and the potential for a modified business model in relation to future HEIF funding.

    As part of our approach to capacity-building, we shall continue to explore the potential for involvement in the partnership of other NHS organisations, including primary care, and other universities.

  • Enhancing engagement of LU academic staff with KE in Health & Medicine.

    With HEIF 5 support we have established a structure to embed KE in each division of the Faculty, and have achieved progress in engaging staff in KE activity. Over the next 3 years we shall actively manage the growth of interest and engagement in KE within the Faculty by implementing a programme of activities led by KE leads within each Division, including:

    • A programme of regular meetings on campus to bring Faculty staff together with external stakeholders around a broad theme of 'Health and Social Care in 2020'. The programme will enable joint visioning of future development, and will encourage opportunities for local partnerships, based on local strengths, to emerge on this context. The programme will be established in 2014, with meetings once per term.
    • A programme of regular events at NHS Trust sites, hosted by NHS R&D departments and led by honorary staff in each Trust, to focus on identifying and supporting opportunities for joint working.
    • Informal events within the Faculty to showcase existing KE projects and activities, to explore routes to impact of this work, and to introduce newly-appointed staff to the Partnerships programme.
  • Enhancing the performance and reputation of LU for leading and supporting locally-driven collaborative research and innovation in Health & Medicine.

    We shall continue to enhance our performance and national reputation by focusing on key deliverables, with mutually-agreed targets. These will include grant income, publications and other outputs, delivery of courses and KE activities, KTPs, staff secondments, and communication.

    We shall also work with our NHS partners to develop mutually-agreed metrics for performance in supporting innovation, and in enabling an efficient process for research costings, IP arrangements, and study set up as appropriate. The performance of the Partnership, together with the detailed project tracker, will continue to be reviewed at quarterly MAG meetings.

  • Establishing strong relationships with the NWC AHSN, NWC LCRN, NWC CLAHRC, LETB, LAT, N8, NHSA, Bionow, LEPs and other key regional / national networks.

    As these major structures and networks become established across the North of England we shall ensure that we maintain strong relationships with them at both strategic and operation al level. Each organisation will be represented on the MAG, and we shall seek representation on their Boards and management groups as appropriate.

    We shall also work with these organisations to participate in, and in some cases lead, large funding initiatives, for example, around Horizon 2020, to enable involvement of the University and the NHS in major funding programmes across the EU.

  • Enhancing our capability and infrastructure for working with Industry.

    We shall build upon our founding strategy for working with Industry, which identified the approach of establishing a 'package' of areas of joint NHS / University working as the basis of a distinctive offer for Industry engagement across Lancashire & Cumbria. We shall continue to develop and shape this in partnership with Bionow.

    We shall focus on building upon the University's strong track record of working with SMEs, whilst at the same time recognising the increasing interest of large global companies in working with us in areas such as Digital Health and Personalised Care and Treatment, as well as Biopharmaceuticals. Our approach will be shaped by the principles and areas of potential development highlighted in the Witty report 'Encouraging a British Invention Revolution', and we shall explore in particular the opportunities which exist locally around the themes of digital technologies and environment.

  • Developing robust joint governance processes and business models

    Our platform for supporting effective governance processes for joint bidding will be maintained, and modified accordingly to ensure its alignment with emerging NIHR CRN and MHRA systems.

    We shall also explore opportunities for establishing spin-out companies with academic and NHS partners, based upon our collective skills and professional expertise. Depending upon the outcome, such developments may form part of the partnership's future business plans.

  • Informing and driving the development of the Lancaster Innovation Campus

    The intended focus of the proposed Innovation Campus around Health and Medicine offers an opportunity for the University to embed KE within its core structure and business, as well as to harness the benefits from the substantial progress which the Partnership has achieved over the past three years. The Partnership will play a key role in shaping the vision and planning for the Campus, and eventually in the delivery of its activities.

    From our perspective, the notion that the Campus should provide a focus for interdisciplinary working and that it should be founded upon robust NHS, Industry and Public engagement are key founding principles for further development of the concept.