The Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) supports knowledge exchange between higher education providers and the wider world that benefits society and the economy.
We provide funding for knowledge exchange via the £260 million Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) to support and develop a broad range of knowledge-based interactions between higher education providers and the wider world, which results in benefits to the economy and society.
The aim is to create and sustain a range of knowledge exchange activities in response to demand across the economy and society.
It is designed to support and develop a broad range of knowledge-based interactions between higher education providers and the wider world, which results in economic and societal benefit to the UK.
What HEIF supports
HEIF supports and incentivises providers to work with business, public and third sector organisations, community bodies and the wider public, to exchange knowledge and increase the economic and societal benefit from their work.
In 2021 we commissioned analysis of financial and narrative data submitted by higher education providers through HEIF accountability and annual monitoring statements. Extracted data was used to explore trends in expenditure of HEIF funding and alignment with a number of themes. We also invited providers in receipt of HEIF to provide short case studies to demonstrate the value of HEIF.
We commission evidence from time to time to demonstrate the value delivered by our funding. This shows that HEIF provides a strong return on investment, with £8.30 generated for every £1 of funding. Further information on this evidence work can be viewed at the University Commercialisation and Innovation Policy Evidence Unit, including an Office for Students (OfS) commission looking at the key issues and methods for assessing the impact of this funding on student outcomes (PDF, 1869KB, University of Cambridge website).
Additional support for business and commercialisation
Research England have allocated an additional £20 million per annum specifically focussed on knowledge exchange with business and commercialisation.
This new funding supplements HEIF with a specific focus on driving additional business collaboration and commercialisation performance in line with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) guidance priority. Further information is provided in the November 2022 publication knowledge exchange: business and commercialisation.
Review of knowledge exchange funding
The BEIS funding and priorities letter 2021 to 2022 included guidance on our review of our knowledge exchange funding approaches.
Our review reflects the need to take account of development of the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) and Knowledge Exchange Concordat. As well as that, it is good practice to review formula funding methods periodically.
We are now publishing a timetable and plans for review, taking account of latest government priorities and working with OfS.
An evaluation of the HEIF programme
Research England will be commissioning an evaluation of their HEIF programme in the summer of 2022.
The HEIF evaluation expert advisory group was established in May 2021 to provide specific advice to Research England on the design and delivery of the full-scale evaluation of Research England’s HEIF programme.
Additional planned activity relating to the evaluation will be published in due course.
The group membership is comprised of those from university senior management teams or those identified to have significant expertise in evaluation design and analysis and includes:
Alice Frost (Chair)
Knowledge Exchange Director, Research England
Principal Analyst, City-REDI, University of Birmingham
Tomas Coates Ulrichsen
Director, UCI Policy Evidence Unit, University of Cambridge
Professor Luke Georghiou
Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Manchester
Dr Phil Clare
CEO of Queen Mary Innovation, Queen Mary University of London
Dr Gemma Derrick
Associate Professor, School of Education, University of Bristol
Dr Efthymia Amanatidou
Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Manchester Institute of Innovation Research