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Technicians Play Key Role in Knowledge Exchange (KE) Report Finds

Knowledge Exchange Report Reveals How to Strengthen UK Research & Innovation Ecosystem   

Several recommendations are being made to higher education and research employers, funders and sector bodies to improve institutional and sector-wide visibility of the contribution technicians make to Knowledge Exchange and to strengthen the UK’s Knowledge Exchange (KE) ecosystem.

The Role of Technicians in Knowledge Exchange – An Explorative Study has been published by UKRI Research England, Midlands Innovation TALENT, Technician Commitment and Research Consulting. It highlights the value of technical staff in delivering and enabling KE including through public engagement, access to facilities and involvement in the creation of IP.

The report brings together views from technical and academic staff, and senior leaders across universities, research institutes and funders with case studies which demonstrate the influence technicians’ expertise, knowledge and capability has on KE.

Professor Trevor McMillan, Chair of Midlands Innovation and Vice Chancellor of Keele University said: “Technicians are essential to research, teaching and KE and it is vital that they are valued and supported to realise their potential.

“Up until now there has been very little documented recognition of the role technicians play in KE; this report changes that and I hope will act as a benchmark for higher education and research institutes. The realistic recommendations in this report will make a big impact on how we recognise the whole team in KE and I hope that the sector recognises the benefits and implements changes within their organisations.”

Some of the recommendations include: greater recognition of the role technicians play in KE through externally-facing communications and within strategies and funding opportunities, including technicians in KE decision making, greater reference of technicians in case studies, publications and articles and greater inclusion of technical staff in KE professional development opportunities.

Alice Frost Director of Knowledge Exchange, UKRI Research England added: “This valuable report demonstrates how technicians support KE through involvement in developing intellectual property (IP), working with industry and the community, providing analysis and access to research infrastructure and delivering training to students and researchers.

“A sector-wide approach to improving visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability of technicians will strengthen the infrastructure behind the UK’s research and innovation ecosystem. I’m pleased to see that Research England funding through HEIF and CCF is helping to support this agenda.”

Dr Helen Turner, Director for Midlands Innovation also commented.

“The case studies in this report really bring to life the value of our technicians and their significance in our universities KE delivery. I’m confident that it will act as a catalyst for future recognition of the work of this community.”

Download a copy of The Role of Technicians in Knowledge Exchange – An Explorative Study

The report features technician Knowledge Exchange case studies from:  

  • University of Nottingham
  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Cardiff University
  • University of Brighton
  • University of East Anglia
  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • University of Leicester
  • Oxford Brookes University

The report provides context on the current environment ahead of TALENT policy commission recommendations which will provide strategic insight into technical skills of the future. Find out more about the policy commission.

This report supports the recently published document  Funding Technical Staff in Research  to provide clarification around the variety of funding routes and mechanisms within the research and innovation sector.