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The University of Southampton

Business and community engagement at Southampton retain top scores in KEF

Published: 29 September 2022
Research image
KEF emphasises the value of university research partnerships, public engagement and enterprise.

The University of Southampton’s outstanding business and public engagement has been recognised again with the release of the second Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF2).

The University’s strengths in public engagement, business partnerships, IP commercialisation and entrepreneurial activities – including graduate start-ups – have been recognised as amongst the best in England.

Southampton achieved a top rating (‘very high engagement’) in four of seven areas of assessment: ‘Working with business’, ‘Working with the public and third sector’, ‘Intellectual Property and commercialisation’ and ‘Public and community engagement’.

Southampton achieved the second highest rating ('high engagement’) in the other three areas: ‘Research partnerships’, ‘Local growth and regeneration’ and ‘CPD and graduate start-ups’.

These results place Southampton at or above the average in all perspectives amongst the cluster of 17 very large, research-intensive and broad-discipline English universities.

Southampton’s results echo those of the first KEF in 2021, when the University scored similarly highly.

The full results are presented online as interactive KEF2 dashboards.

Diana Galpin, Director of Enterprise and Knowledge Exchange at the University of Southampton, said: “Knowledge Exchange is how we deliver impact, pioneer innovation and deliver solutions through applying our insights and inventiveness to solve real-world problems, be they social, cultural, environmental or economic. We have a rich variety of amazing knowledge exchange and enterprise activity at Southampton through which we provide benefit to our stakeholders in business, our local communities and society more broadly.

“We are very proud of the positive impact our staff and students deliver through knowledge exchange and a strong reputation for excellence in enterprise and innovation. Our performance in KEF2 demonstrates that pride and reputation is well deserved, yet we remain committed to continually improve and ambitious to strengthen and grow this area.”

Professor Mark Spearing, the University’s Vice-President (Research and Enterprise), said: “Everyone at the University should be very pleased with our continuing strong performance in Knowledge Exchange and Enterprise (KEE), as measured by the KEF. This reflects very significant contributions by many people across the whole University. This KEF outcome reinforces our Triple Helix of Education, Research and KEE as the foundational principle of our University Strategy.”

Research England first launched the KEF in spring 2021. The KEF assessment exercise is designed to help universities to better understand their own performance, and to provide businesses and other collaborating organisations with information to help them to access the world-class knowledge and expertise embedded within English universities. The KEF also aims to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of public funding for knowledge exchange and to promote a culture of continuous improvement in universities.

Work to create the KEF began in 2017, when the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation commissioned the Higher Education Council for England to provide more information about universities’ achievements in serving the economy and society for the benefit of the public, business and communities. Since its launch there was a period of reflection and iteration to improve the assessment framework before launching the revised KEF2. Consultation and decision documents published during the development of the KEF and into KEF2 are available on the Research England website.

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