University among England’s top institutions in new KEF rankings

The results of the first Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) have been announced, with the University of Liverpool attaining top 20% positioning for Working with Business, Research Partnerships and Public and Community Engagement.

The KEF, led by Research England, provides information about the achievements of English Universities in serving the economy and society for the benefit of the public, business and communities. The aim of the KEF is to increase efficiency and effectiveness in the use of public funding for knowledge exchange, as well as providing businesses and other users with the information to help them access the world-class knowledge and expertise in English Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

English HEIs were ranked across a broad range of KE metrics for the period 2016/17 – 2018/19. These metric rankings were collated to provide decile scores across seven perspectives to highlight areas of strength. HEIs were then grouped into clusters to enable a fair comparison across a diverse sector. The University was placed in Cluster V with other very large and very high research intensive and broad discipline HEIs undertaking significant amounts of excellent research, including most of the English Russell Group Universities along with London Business School.

In the remaining perspectives, the University was rated in the top 30% for working with the Public and Third Sector, top 40% for Local Growth and Regeneration, and top 50% for IP and Commercialisation. Our performance in Skills, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship was in line with the cluster average, and we are making further investments in Graduate Enterprise to enable all our students to contribute to the creation, survival or growth of a business.

A set of interactive dashboards have been released by Research England providing further details about the results of the first KEF. This includes statements provided by HEIs on Institutional KE Context, Local Growth and Regeneration, and Public and Community Engagement.

Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Impact, Professor Anthony Hollander, said: “I am delighted to see the University’s strong performance in the Knowledge Exchange Framework, showing the high value of our research to a range of local and global private and public sector partners. I am especially pleased to see the recognition of our Public and Community Engagement activity, as the communication of science and research has become so important to us all in the last 12 months.”

Sarah Jackson, Director of Research, Partnerships and Innovation, said: “These positive results reflect all the expertise, hard work and skill of our academic and professional services colleagues working together with our partners to change the world. The KEF will help us focus on our strengths where we can build clusters of talent and resources to make significant contributions to global challenges.”

Jon Hague, Vice President of Science and Technology, Unilever Homecare, said: “Unilever has had a relationship with the University of Liverpool for more than 100 years. To compete successfully, collaboration is key and the University is one of the world’s leading academic institutions for materials science. Increasingly, innovation comes from strong partnerships which allow the sharing of expertise and it is good to see these dimensions recognised in the Knowledge Exchange Framework.”

Laura Pye, Director of National Museums Liverpool (NML), said: “NML and the University of Liverpool have partnered on a wide variety of Public and Community Engagement initiatives for many years, including, joint research, student placements and projects, access to our diverse collections and public events. We are thrilled to see the positive KEF results that highlight the high value the University brings to our sector, advancing knowledge, broadening participation, increasing impact among diverse audiences and contributing to the cultural life of our city.”

Learn more at Making an Impact event

Join us during ‘Making an Impact 2021’ where Dr Hamish McAlpine, Head of KE data and evidence at Research England, and Sarah Jackson, Director of Research, Partnerships and Innovation, will reflect on the broader review and discuss the University’s KE strategy, register here.

This is followed by an interactive session with Julia Keyton, Head of Research and Impact Strategy, and Bob Cooney, Research and Impact Strategy Manager, where you will be given the opportunity to contribute to our understanding of KE priorities for the future, register here.

Work with us

If you require further information around KEF, please visit our webpages here or contact us at

The Research, Partnerships and Innovation Directorate (RPI) provides support at every stage of the research, impact and knowledge exchange process, and acts as a signpost to further information.

Working flexibly and in close partnership with faculties and other professional services, we help academics to apply their expertise to the external environment through effective engagement with collaborators, partners and funders.