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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Durham - CMI Knowledge Exchange Laboratory, The

A research project of the Department of Geography.


The project, funded by Cambridge-MIT Institute and ONE NorthEast (£186,000 over two years from 2004), focuses on knowledge transfer between the regional Universities, 'Centres of excellence' funded by ONE and industry in the region, especially in terms of the translation of the results of research into commercial products. As well as benefiting the regional economy, the project is expected to make important contributions to current scholarly debates on knowledge creation, learning organizations, learning regions, and communities of practice.


The project seeks to:

  • understand the existing models of knowledge exchange in the North East, selected primarily from the Centres of Excellence programme associated with the North East Region Strategy for Success
  • identify and clarify the variables which affect success including: technological / industrial / institutional culture, external constraints and drivers including the state of the economy & policy, availability of development funding, communications

It accomplishes this by using a multi-method approach, including network mapping, and online surveys to measure the level and type of interaction between members of the North East academic and business communities.


The survey gauges the level of interaction between individuals in two Centres of Excellence and various ‘mechanisms’ or institutions of knowledge exchange in the North East.

Currently, there are seven mechanisms or institutions represented through individuals’ participation in the survey:

  • CENAMPS - Centre of Excellence for Nanotechnology, Micro and Photonic Systems
  • CPI - Centre of Excellence for Process Innovation
  • NSTAR - an independent, early stage venture capital funder for technology businesses
  • ONE - Regional Development Agency for the North East
  • NETPARK - Business Incubator & High Tech Research Park in County Durham
  • DURHAM UNIVERSITY - strong in Physics, Astronomy, Engineering, Bio-medical sciences and Chemistry
  • NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY - strong in Bio-medical sciences, Chemical Engineering and Computing

New participants and new mechanisms are added by those already completing the survey on a bi-annual basis are asked: 'To whom have you spoken with regards to your project in the last 6 months? Please add their name and email'. These newly added participants are themselves invited via email to complete the on-line survey and add new names and so on.


Interim results have raised questions about the optimal institutional arrangement to facilitate knowledge exchange and the role of public policy. They also show how this might relate to the recent ONE re-organisation of the Centres of Excellence structure:

Will the revised paradigm be the new successful model for knowledge exchange, innovation and economic growth for the North East and other regions in the UK?

Current Outputs

Tully, J M , Hudson R, Tanner, B K (2005) BUILDING A KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY AND KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER PATHWAYS IN THE NORTH EAST. REGIONS: Newsletter of the Regional Studies Association (260): pp25-28.


From the Department of Geography

From other departments