It’s a year since I took the role of Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation).  My overriding impression of this last year has been the outstanding research we do right across the University; it is a shared passion that brings staff and students together.

The last year has seen us continue to deliver on our R&I strategic targets. We have seen R&I income increase by 18% (since 2017) and we now have close to a thousand PGR students studying with us. Our thematic areas are maturing led by outstanding professors. Our recent REF audit (in 2018), showed we will likely submit twice as many staff as in REF2014 with approximately the same GPA (grade point average) for outputs. We also had successes in obtaining significant funding for our new Centre in Enzyme Innovation and have signed a new strategic initiative with the Portsmouth Hospital Trust. Please keep up the good work!

The next year will be dominated by REF2021, the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) and our new university strategy and vision.

Research Excellence Framework 2021

IMG_6474The documentation for REF2021 will be submitted in a year.  I like to keep a copy of the 2014 submission on my desk to remind me what it looks like (see photo), and to remind everybody of the scale of the task in front of us (luckily it will be submitted electronically). We are presently involved in a mock REF exercise where we are testing all areas of our eventual submission, namely outputs, impact case studies and environment statements. I want to thank staff now for all their help and engagement in this mock; we should have results by February 2020 and for the first time, really see what our 2021 submission should look like. This will allow us to react to the issues, know where the gaps are, and understand our procedures for putting the final submission together. I am confident we will have a REF2021 submission we can all be proud of.

Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF)

At the same time, the government has signed their intention to launch their long-awaited KEF. This is a yearly, institutional benchmarking of our innovation and enterprise which will help inform us, and external partners, what sort of knowledge exchange university we are. KEF will be based on the Higher Education Business & Community Interaction (HE-BCI) Survey the University completes each year (December), and as such shouldn’t be as involved as the REF. KEF will measure us relative to similar universities in our “cluster” on seven key perspectives: Research partnerships; working with business; working with public and third sector; skills, enterprise and entrepreneurship; local growth and regeneration; IP and commercialisation; Public and community engagement. This is a great opportunity for us to measure ourselves against others in the sector, but it could be quite chastening. I think KEF will give us a common language around innovation, just as REF does for research, which will be beneficial for promoting innovation to ourselves, our colleagues and partners.

University Strategy

Next year we will launch our new vision 2030 and strategy 2025, and anyone who recently attended the Vice-Chancellors address will agree it is bold and ambitious. For R&I, we have re-committed ourselves to performing globally excellent research with societal impact. We are now working on a delivery plan for this strategy and vision, and will be working with senior R&I leadership across the University to translate this vision into tangible targets for faculties, departments and individual. We must also examine the support we provide staff and students to enable them to succeed at such targets otherwise we will not achieve our ambition of being the top modern university by 2030. I look forward to working with you on this journey.