Loughborough excels in Research England’s first Knowledge Exchange Framework

The Access Group's new global headquarters.

The significant contribution Loughborough University makes to the regional economy and society has been highlighted by Research England’s first Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), released today (Wednesday 31 March).

The KEF data looks at the performance of English Higher Education Providers (HEPs) from a variety of different perspectives, including public and community engagement, working with partners ranging from big businesses to small local firms, and how HEPs commercialise their research. It also groups institutions into ‘clusters’ of peers – institutions with similar characteristics such as how much research they do and in what subject areas. Loughborough University is in Cluster X, which is described as “large, research intensive and broad-discipline Universities undertaking a significant amount of excellent research”.

Overall in the KEF, Loughborough is in the top 10% of all English HEPs for the ‘Working with business’ metric, and the top 20% for ‘Local growth and regeneration’.

Its performance in the KEF highlights the University’s value as a local and regional anchor institution, providing new opportunities through its many academic spin-outs, as well as attracting other employers to the area through its continued investment in Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park (LUSEP), part of Loughborough and Leicester Science and Innovation Enterprise Zone.

The 97-hectare site is now home to more than 90 businesses, including The Access Group – a leading provider of business management software to mid-sized organisations – whose global headquarters were completed at LUSEP in 2020. Leicestershire County Council has invested in the new development in an innovative move which will see revenue of £1.6m a year to support vital front-line county council services.

A 30-year partnership with Rolls-Royce has also led to a £14 million national research facility on LUSEP. The National Centre in Combustion and Aerothermal Technology (NCCAT) is driving the UK development of future low-emission aerospace combustion systems.

At the University’s East London campus on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Loughborough is the lead academic partner in one of the largest regeneration projects ever seen in the UK and it works in consultation with the local community to deliver mutually beneficial activities that transform lives and communities.

Speaking about its success in the KEF, Professor Tracy Bhamra, Loughborough’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise said: “The KEF reinforces the University’s strategic commitment to work closely with local partners to enhance the social, cultural and economic wellbeing of the communities and regions in which we reside. Enterprise is embedded across the University’s activities, enhancing student experience, creating impact from research, and driving regional prosperity.”

Executive Chair of Research England David Sweeney added: “Universities’ engagement with society through Knowledge Exchange is an essential part of their mission alongside research and teaching. 

“The Knowledge Exchange Framework will help universities understand where their strengths are, relative to others with similar missions. It showcases a diverse picture of the tremendous work they do in their places, nationally and internationally.”

This is the first time that detailed, qualitative information about how HEPs build community engagement and promote growth in their local areas has been collected together in a structured and systematic way allowing for easy comparison. The narratives in the KEF paint a detailed, never seen before picture of how HEPs engage with their communities to build deeper relationships and to stimulate local growth.

View Loughborough’s full KEF dashboard here by selecting ‘Loughborough University’ from the dropdown menu.