Impact of Higher Education Institutions on Regional Economies: A Joint Research Initiative



University-Industry Knowledge Exchange: Demand Pull, Supply Push and the Public Space role of Higher Education Institutions in the UK Regions

Summer 2007 - Summer 2009

Link to this project's ESRC Award Page

Project Team


  • Dr Maria Abreu
  • Dr Vadim Grinevich

The research is being undertaken at Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge


The central objective of this research is to identify the factors that affect the incidence, form, effectiveness and regional impact of knowledge exchange activities between Higher Education and private, public and third sectors in the UK. It will identify the way these interactions vary across UK regions and within those regions.

Knowledge exchange is defined so as to cover the full range of ways in which the higher education sector interacts with external organisations and which may affect regional economic development.  These interactions include educational and training activities, research publications and patenting, conferences, contracting and consulting activity, internships, joint research and development and licensing and new business formation.

The research will consider the objectives for taking part in these interactions and the evaluation of their success from both the business (or 'demand' side) perspective and from the academic (or 'supply' side) perspective. The research will be used to draw implications for public policy in the area of knowledge exchange.

In meeting its central objective the proposed research will address the following questions.

  • What are the processes by which opportunities for knowledge exchange are recognised by businesses and academics?
  • What are the key motivations and objectives of the parties to the knowledge exchange and their implications for the incidence and effectiveness of the exchange process?
  • What factors affect the choice of modes of knowledge exchange?
  • How do the parties to knowledge exchange measure success?
  • How do businesses assess the impact of knowledge exchange upon their innovative activity and value added?
  • What factors affect the geographical location of partners to knowledge exchange and the consequent potential impact upon the regional and sub-regional economy of the exchange process?
  • What factors affect differences across regions and sub-regions in the incidence, form, perceived success and impact of exchange interactions?

As part of the project we are currently conducting two large-scale UK-wide surveys, one of businesses and one of UK-based academics. Preliminary findings from the two surveys are expected in May 2009.

If you are taking part in our survey of academics, please follow for a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).


Selected Project Outputs

Please see the project's ESRC page for the most up to date information and outputs