About Knowledge Exchange

The UK Government places a high priority on innovation, and in particular on commercialising research. This reflects evidence (e.g from the Sainsbury Review) that, while UK research is of outstanding quality, there is still untapped scope to realise commercial benefits for UK plc.

The Sainsbury Review.pdf
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Key points about 'Knowledge Exchange' (KE), which is now the preferred and broader term for what used to be known as 'Knowledge Transfer' (KT) include:

  • KE has to be a two-way process. It is important to engage stakeholders to understand their needs and opportunities (the 'pull'), not just to 'push' solutions after they are developed.
  • There is nothing new about KE - but there are opportunities to make major improvements by changing mindsets, systematically adopting new models, and using new tools.
  • KE is relevant not just to innovation in technology, products and services. It is equally important in tackling societal issues (e.g. by aligning research and policy).
  • Programmes to improve KE are being driven by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), Knowledge Transfer Networks (KTNs), the UK Research Councils, Universities, and skills organisations.

Who is Driving Knowledge Exchange?

The Technology Strategy Board is the UK's national innovation agency. Its goal is to accelerate economic growth in the UK by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. It uses a number of delivery mechanisms - the most relevant to knowledge exchange being the 'Knowledge Transfer Networks', 'Special Interest Groups' and 'Innovation Platforms'.


Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) is a single over-arching national network in a specific field of technology or business application which brings together people from businesses, universities, research, finance and technology organisations to stimulate innovation through knowledge transfer.


KTNs have been set up to drive the flow of knowledge within and between specific communities. They have been established, and are funded, by government, industry and academia. They bring together diverse organisations and provide activities and initiatives to promote knowledge exchange and stimulate innovation in these communities. Several of the KTNs include elements of earlier 'Faraday Partnerships'.


The KTNs are now hosted on '_connect', a powerful networking platform. _connect is a place that facilitates open innovation, where people can network, share information and knowledge and work together securely.


Special Interest Groups (SIGs) have been established by the TSB to help maximise the opportunities for UK businesses. They have active involvement from several KTNs and have an identified commercial sponsor.


Innovation Platforms focus on areas where the UK Government is taking action through policy, regulation, procurement or fiscal measures to tackle specific societal challenges. 

Our Support for Knowledge Exchange

We have strong capabilities in the processes and skills for knowledge exchange, especially at the interfaces between industry, research and government. We have helped KTNs develop sector roadmaps, promote good practice, and adopt practical tools. KTNs, SIGs and Innovation Platforms can gain powerful synergy through collaboration with New Game-Plan.

The Company Chemists' Association, Scottish Stem Cell Network, Aquagenome Partnership, and four KTNs have all used our Brain-Pool Workshops to help co-create sector Roadmaps with their stakeholders. Our Workshop reports fed directly into these Roadmaps.


Recent Workshops have demonstrated the value of significant pre-work, with our clients, to distil existing roadmaps, identify drivers and desired outcomes, and develop draft proposals for research and innovation. This work draws on our skills in articulating and framing propositions, so that they can be systematically reviewed and developed. Our input has provoked significant new thinking and increased productivity.

The Roadmaps have been highly influential: focusing internal Network activity in research and knowledge exchange; and leveraging external funding. Many Roadmap proposals for research and innovation have attracted funding because they are clearly articulated, well-evidenced, and incorporate both creative and critical inputs from stakeholders.

Our Lead Analyst and Public Policy Specialist, Dr Alan Woods, has played an active role in bridging the 'divide' between research and policy. As a consultant to the 'Rural Economy and Land Use' (Relu) research programme he has written several reports which distil lessons for policy and practice from interdisciplinary research projects. The programme has supported 85 projects from 50 institutions, involving over 450 researchers from 40 disciplines.


The outputs of this work include: