Ref and Tef are set to be joined by Kef – the Knowledge Exchange Framework – in a new ranking to assess commercialisation of research

The UK’s universities and science minister Jo Johnson has announced plans to develop a new assessment exercise – the Knowledge Exchange Framework (Kef) – that will measure how effective universities are at engaging and collaborating with business. It joins the Research Excellence Framework or Ref and the Teaching Excellence Framework or Tef, which both attempt to capture how well universities are performing in their core roles. 

‘Given the record levels of public investment in R&D, it is essential that universities engage with businesses and communities to make the most of their knowledge and research,’ Johnson told delegates at the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s (Hefce) annual conference. The Kef will be managed by Research England, the new body taking over Hefce’s research functions. It builds on the work of the knowledge exchange steering group that was established in 2014 to increase the effectiveness of university–business engagement.

The government department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said the Kef will ‘act as a benchmark for universities to ensure they are making the most of the opportunities available and help ensure that the UK benefits from the research, skills and knowledge in the higher education sector’. Research England has been asked to consult with the sector to develop the framework.