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Research Office

The Durham Partnership

A new model for knowledge exchange

What does classical Knowledge Exchange involve?

Most models of knowledge exchange are somewhat linear in nature. Thus academics produce research outputs, which can be tangible (such as publications and materials) or more abstract (e.g. skills or know-how). These outputs are then further developed through knowledge exchange channels such as consultancy, further research or company creation. This in turn leads to impacts ranging from policy changes to health and cultural impacts, to jobs created and profit made.

This straightforward view certainly describes many of the current knowledge exchange activities that occur at Durham University, but - bearing in mind the tension that exists between pure and applied research  - we are trying to increasingly focus our efforts towards the promotion of User-inspired basic research, i.e. curiosity-driven research carried out in collaboration with, and funded by external end-user organisations. This has led to the development of the Durham Partnership model.

The Durham Partnership

This involves the development of research projects involving a three-way relationship between the external public/private sector organisation and the University academic team working in partnership with their associated spin out company (or companies).

The benefit here is that the partners are able to operate on different timescales, with the spin out offering the external users a range of consultancy-type services which helps to leverage both data and funding for the University researchers who will be able to provide new knowledge over a longer and less business-critical timescale. The spin out benefits by earning income, ultimately enhancing it's ability to employ more staff and the University benefits through gaining access to datasets that would othwise not be accessible (or would be very expensive to obtain) and through the generation of research outputs and impact for REF. In essence, everybody wins.