Leading the way in knowledge exchange


The University of Leeds remains a leading higher education institution for knowledge exchange, according to Research England.

Major strengths include working with business to boost the economy, forging a wide variety of partnerships and supporting graduate start-up businesses. 

The findings are part of the third Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF3) published today by Research England, which is part of UK Research and Innovation – the country’s largest public research funder. 

The analysis demonstrates that the University continues to be in the highest possible band for “intellectual property and commercialisation” and “working with the public and 3rd sector”. 

The University also scores highly for “research partnerships” and “working with business”, reflecting its commitment to working with external companies, creating successful spinout companies, and forging hugely productive partnerships with organisations such as Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority. 

The University also pursues its support of spinout companies through Northern Gritstone – an independent investment company founded by the universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield.

Professor Nick Plant, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation at Leeds said: “The University of Leeds plays a vital role in driving prosperity and economic growth in the city and region through our research and collaboration activities. 

“The Framework which measures these activities aligns with many of our key goals, including making a positive difference in the world by sharing knowledge with business, industry, community groups and the public sector. 

“This collaborative spirit is at the heart of our work, and also informs our international partnerships as we help tackle the planet’s most pressing challenges through ground-breaking initiatives such as the Knowledge Equity Network, which aims to share research and teaching on a global scale.”

Among the many successful University spin-out companies are: 

Mimetrik: a digital dentistry products company that uses machine learning to generate fully digitised images of a patient’s dentition and facial structure, which recently received £2m in funding from Northern Gritstone.

4-XTRA Technologies: a software company offering scalable machine learning engine, dynamically estimating and forecasting extreme values for the financial services industry. 

Tracsis: a transport software and consultancy company which aims to increase efficiency and reduce costs in the transportation sector. Its services include rolling stock and crew planning and optimisation tools, performance reporting and traffic and data services. 

C-Capture: a leading designer of chemical processes for carbon dioxide removal, which this month benefited from Northern Gritstone investment to support the company’s technology commercialisation strategy.

Avacta: a biotechnology and engineering company shaping the future of medicine by developing safe and effective drugs for a wide range of life sciences applications (research and diagnostics). The company specialises in the production of affimers as an alternative to synthetic antibodies. 

The Knowledge Exchange Framework measures knowledge-exchange activities in seven areas, comparing clusters of universities based on size and research activity. Leeds’ group includes 16 other UK universities including Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, UCL, Newcastle and Manchester. 

The Framework aims to increase efficiency and effectiveness in the use of public funding for knowledge exchange and to further a culture of continuous improvement in universities’ economic and collaborative impact. 

Research England uses the data collected for the Framework to inform allocation of the £260m Higher Education Innovation Funding programme.

Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Executive Chair of Research England, said: “Across the breadth of higher education, institutions make rich and diverse contributions to the economy and society through their knowledge exchange activities.

“The Knowledge Exchange Framework continues to be a powerful tool to describe the breadth of scope of knowledge exchange. It also provides important evidence of different university strengths through peer group comparisons.”

Further information

Further details about KEF are available on the Research England website.

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