After three very busy, informative and pretty exhausting days I returned from this year’s PraxisAuril’s annual conference reinvigorated with some interesting ideas and challenges for my colleagues at Interface. As an organisation that forms connections for others, PraxisAuril gave me the opportunity to reconnect and form new connections with my peers across the UK, exchange ideas and indeed…..knowledge!
Knowledge Exchange (KE) sits at the very heart of Interface’s mission – to enable business-academic collaboration for environmental and societal benefit. And so I was delighted to both attend and participate in this year’s conference, the flagship event for UK Knowledge Exchange practitioners, which was held in Nottingham earlier this month.
The three-day conference featured speakers from across UK Higher Education Institutions focussing on many aspects of knowledge exchange and it was gratifying to see a broad range of topics covered and ones on which we focus within Interface – the roles universities and specifically Knowledge Exchange has to play in driving skills and innovation, its importance in civic and community engagement and its contribution to economic, environmental and societal prosperity.
Interface was invited to participate in a session of Mini Talks which spanned current and emerging topics, an opportunity to share new ideas and practice.
My talk focussed on the emergence of student Knowledge Exchange and its role as an essential engagement tool to initiate and foster collaborations. Student KE enables students to connect with businesses and communities to apply the skills being developed on their course, out in the real world. As well as benefiting students, it allows businesses to draw in new ideas, talent and resource and access to the latest theories, tools and techniques to help address their challenges whilst developing their networks and reputation. And it can inform university curriculums and teaching using material drawn from real life interactions, acting as a basis for building relationships with businesses that can translate into larger scale academic engagement. It’s a win-win-win however, it is underreported and under recognised because of student KE typically sitting outside the remit of research and commercialisation functions.
I posited the question, “How can we enable student knowledge exchange to be recognised more consistently as an integral and valuable part of institutions’ research and knowledge exchange agendas?”, which prompted a lively and engaged discussion. It was satisfying to see how the topic resonated with the audience.
Knowledge Exchange professionals benefit greatly from sharing their knowledge too, as well forming new connections and PraxisAuril’s annual conference is the perfect platform for this.
Photo: Fluid Productions / PraxisAuril.