Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Higher Education Innovation Funding

The Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) supports knowledge exchange between higher education providers and the wider world that benefits society and the economy.

Budget:
£260 million
Partners involved:
Research England (RE), Office for Students (OfS)

The scope and what we're doing

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.

Aim

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).

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.

Review of knowledge exchange funding: stakeholder engagement and evidence summary.

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.

Group membership

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

George Bramley

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

Director of Innovation and Engagement, Research Services, University of Oxford

Dr Gemma Derrick

Associate Professor, School of Education, University of Bristol

Dr Efthymia Amanatidou

Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Manchester Institute of Innovation Research

Opportunities, support and resources available

How HEIF is allocated

The Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) is allocated by formula to all eligible providers who meet the performance threshold, subject to acceptance by Research England of an accountability statement in 2021.

Accountability statements

Accountability statements were requested through the 2020 publication HEIF policies and priorities.  Each individual accountability statement sets out a higher education provider’s plans for how they will use their HEIF allocations between 2021 to 2022, to 2024 to 2025 in relation to their strategic objectives and government priorities for knowledge exchange.

HEIF providers have been grouped by the relevant knowledge exchange (KE) cluster:

KE clusters were developed as part of the knowledge exchange framework as a means to group English providers of higher education that have similar capabilities and resources available to them to engage in knowledge exchange activities.

Read detailed information about how the knowledge exchange clusters were determined.

How allocations are calculated for individual providers

To target knowledge exchange funding where it can support higher education knowledge and skills to have the greatest impact on the economy and society, we only give HEIF to providers with evidence of significant knowledge exchange performance and partnerships.

To judge this, we use data on the income received by an institution from its users (businesses, public and third sector services, the community and wider public) as a proxy measure for the impact of its knowledge exchange activities.

We calculate allocations for individual providers by adding together their main knowledge exchange income indicators. This data is collected through:

  • data that providers submit to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) in the Finance Record and Higher Education – Business and Community Interaction (HE-BCI) Record
  • data on knowledge transfer partnerships (KTPs) from Innovate UK.

We take account of income over a three year period, weighted towards the latest year of performance, providing a balance between stability and dynamism.

Read detailed information on how the formula for funding is calculated.

Cap on individual allocations

There is a cap on individual allocations so that no one institution receives a level of funding that disadvantages others. Where there is evidence that the cap is a constraint on an institution’s support of economic growth, we provide a supplement to enable their knowledge exchange strategies to be enhanced. The supplement is based on the provider’s shares of qualifying income (calculated according to the main knowledge exchange allocation method).

Frequency of allocations recalculations

Allocations are re-calculated annually based on the latest data and to reward recent performance. However, we also moderate year-on-year changes to give providers a level of predictability so that they can draw up five-year knowledge exchange programmes.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

In 2021 we invited higher education providers in receipt of the Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) allocations to provide us with up to two case studies of exemplar knowledge exchange projects or activities that have been supported by HEIF.

These case studies demonstrate the wide range of activities supported by HEIF and the societal, economic or student benefit achieved.  Submission of the case studies was entirely optional, and nothing should be inferred in relation to any provider who chose not to supply a case study.

Read the HEIF case studies from higher education providers.

Who to contact

Knowledge Exchange Policy

Email: kepolicy@re.ukri.org

Evaluation queries

Michael Clark

Email: michael.clark@re.ukri.org

Rosie Lavis

Email: rosie.lavis@re.ukri.org

Governance, management and panels

Institutions in receipt of an Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) allocation are required to provide an annual monitoring statement to Research England each winter. The template documents and updated guidance relating to the 2020 to 2021 HEIF allocation were issued directly to relevant HEIs in November 2021, for return by Thursday 17 February 2022. We expect annual monitoring for the 2021 to 2022 HEIF allocations to follow a similar timescale. Any queries should be directed to kepolicy@re.ukri.org.

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
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