Future-proof academic knowledge exchange - what does that look like?

We need engaged science organisations to tackle societal challenges - from climate change to digitalisation. What does this mean for the future strategy of research organisations? Our Research-to-Action Compass demonstrates how research organisations can expand their support for knowledge exchange and impact more diverse science advice in three increasingly prominent fields: diverse science advice for policy, effective science communication, and sustainable entrepreneurship.

Learn more about three emerging priorities in academic knowledge exchange:

69% of German MPs believe research will play an even greater role in their political work in the future (Ruhrmann, 2022b).
77% of German university leaders want to become more involved in science advice for policy in the future - but only 57.6% actively support their researchers (Higher Education Barometer 2021). Still, only 18% of over 1,000 researchers surveyed in Germany feel they have support available (Ruhrmann, 2022a).
Institutional support from research organisations is one of the Top 3 drivers shown to significantly strengthen engagement between researchers and policymakers (Ruhrmann, 2022a).

The Research-to-Action Compass provides strategic guidance to translate their vision for knowledge exchange and impact into practice - based on three years of research.

  • The Compass tool guides self-reflection on goals and resources,
  • presents the scope of tested support mechanisms for more knowledge exchange and impact,
  • helps design modular strategies and compare them based on relevant criteria,
  • based on three years of qualitative and quantitative research.
Learn more about other areas

Resources

Timeframe

Reach

Novelty

Scope

What are your goals and constraints?

Resources

To what extent can you invest resources in supporting knowledge exchange?

low

medium

high

Timeframe

What is your timeframe for implementing support measures?

Days

Weeks

Months

Reach

How many researchers do you want to target with your support services?

Individuals

Groups

Everyone

Novelty

Are you more interested in innovative or established and proven support services?

Innovative

Tested

Established

Scope

Do you want to provide quick or in-depth support to your scientists?

Quick

Balanced

In-depth

We have curated these support services for you:

Resources

low

medium

high

Timeframe

Days

Weeks

Months

Reach

Individuals

Groups

Everyone

Novelty

Innovative

Tested

Established

Scope

Quick

Balanced

In-depth

  • Engage impact investors

    Engage impact investors

    Impact-oriented investors seek out alternative financing approaches and emphasize the importance of social impact in the company's orientation. Throug...

  • Host @Policy social media channels

    Host @Policy social media channels

    Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, podcasts: through institutional media channels aimed specifically at policymakers, research organisations can provide a plat...

  • Moderate team conflicts

    Moderate team conflicts

    In the event of conflicts within the founding team, incubators support constructive solution-finding by acting as a neutral authority themselves or by...

  • Present awards and prizes

    Present awards and prizes

    Research organisations can recognise outstanding achievements and exemplary commitment to public engagement through prizes and awards. Competitions an...

Method

The Research-to-Action Compass tool was developed as part of the research project "Transferwissenschaft", a collaboration between the Fraunhofer IAO Center for Responsible Research and Innovation and the Technische Universit├Ąt Berlin, funded by the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) for a period of three years (2019-22).

The research team conducted survey, interview, and mapping studies to analyse the current landscape of support for knowledge exchange and impact at German research organisations. In the above catalogue, the team compiled archetypal support measures for diverse science advice for policy, effective science communication, and sustainable entrepreneurship at prominent organisations in Germany and the UK, a knowledge and impact pioneer. The best practice cases highlight particularly successful implementations of support for knowledge exchange and impact from the sample of organisations. Moreover, the research team rated each support measure based on a set of five criteria relevant to their practical implementation.

The method and sample are described in detail below.

Sample

Diverse policy and effective public engagement

  • 41 prominent research organisations in Germany (non-university research organisations, "universities of excellence", TU9, Berlin University Alliance and other universities with over 25,000 students) with a total of 89 support measures for transfer for policy engagement and 129 support measures for public engagement.
  • 50 prominent research organisations in the UK (Russell Group universities and universities highlighted by the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST)) with a total of 218 support measures for policy engagement and 61 support measures for public engagement.

Sustainable entrepreneurship

  • A total of 53 interviews were conducted with employees from 8 incubators with specific tracks or focus on sustainable entrepreneurship and 26 founders of start-ups with "environmental or social impact".

Criteria

Resources

The evaluation is based on the following criteria:

  • Support is provided on an ongoing basis (instead of on a one-off basis).
  • Support is provided regularly (instead of sporadically).
  • Support service requires internal or external expertise for implementation.

"low" = up to one of the relevant criteria fulfilled.
"medium" = two criteria are fulfilled
"high" = all three criteria are fulfilled

Timeframe

The evaluation is based on an expert assessment of the research team on the basis of information available in writing or collected in interviews (seven interviews with policy engagement professionals, five interviews with public engagement practitioners, and 53 interviews with innovation managers in incubators).

Innovativeness

The evaluation is based on the occurrence of support measures of this kind in the sample. (Due to the design of the study and the sample selection, the ratings for sustainable entrepreneurship were only estimated by the research team on the basis of the available qualitative data.)

"established" = found in more than 25% of the institutions in the sample.
"tested" = found in 10-25% of the institutions in the sample
"innovative" = found in less than 10% of the institutions in the sample

Scope

The evaluation is based on the following criteria:

  • Several hours of exposure to knowledge exchange and impact activities
  • Regular exposure to knowledge exchange and impact activities
  • Direct support (one-on-one)

"quick" = up to one of the relevant criteria fulfilled
"balanced" = two criteria are fulfilled
"in-depth" = all three criteria are met

Reach

The evaluation is based on an expert assessment of the research team on the basis of information available in writing or collected in interviews (seven interviews with policy engagement professionals, five interviews with public engagement practitioners, and 53 interviews with innovation managers in incubators).

Underlying research

Diverse science advice for policy

Responsible researcher: Henriette Ruhrmann

Effective public engagement

Responsible researchers: Lale Altinalana-Widenka und Dr Konstantin Kiprijanov

All research projects related to cards focused on "public engagement" can be found here.

Sustainable entrepreneurship

Responsible researcher: Marc Karahan

All research projects related to cards focused on "public engagement" can be found here.