University of Exeter joins group of leading research universities in assessment of business and community impact 

An aerial view of the Piazza on Streatham Campus

Exeter has retained its position as number one in the world for its pivotal research, actions and commitment towards clean water and better sanitation in the latest influential rankings.

The University of Exeter’s steadfast commitment to supporting and nurturing economic growth and businesses has been recognised in a comprehensive national assessment published today (September 27th 2023).  

New data from the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), produced by UKRI, has highlighted how the University’s knowledge creation impacts on society and industry, locally, nationally and worldwide.  

The KEF dashboard is organised by separating institutions into seven ‘clusters’ – which place them amongst organisations with similar capabilities and resources to support knowledge exchange activities. For this iteration of the KEF, Exeter is celebrating moving up to Cluster V – alongside the country’s highest ranked research universities. 

For the University of Exeter, KEF3 results demonstrate its achievements across the full range of knowledge exchange activities. The University particularly welcomes the recognition of its sector-leading performance on “supporting local growth and regeneration” category. 

The University is also placed in the top quintile for research collaboration with Small and Enterprises (SMEs), as well its collaborations with public and third sector companies. This has been exemplified by the launch earlier this year of Green Futures Solutions, supporting businesses of all sizes to adapt to the challenges of climate change. 

Last year, an independent economic impact study showed that the University of Exeter contributes almost £1.6 billion of output to the UK economy and supports 15,500 jobs through its economic activities and the impact of student and visitor spending. 

The study has revealed the institution generates £900m annually towards national gross domestic product (GDP) and has engaged in hundreds of millions of pounds worth of research and development over the past five years. 

It also has a profound impact upon the South West, including the generation of Gross Value Added (GVA) equivalent to 9% of Exeter’s GDP, supporting around 3% of Devon’s workforce as the third largest employer in the county, and the creation of more than £125 million in output for Cornwall’s economy. 

President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Exeter, Professor Lisa Roberts, said: “The results of KEF3 demonstrates strong growth in our knowledge exchange activity, placing us with the world leading cluster of comparator universities, reflecting that we are well on our way to meeting the ambitious new commitments set out in the University’s 2030 Business Engagement and Innovation Strategy. 

“We look forward to expanding our work with business and partners to generate transformational change for their organisations, the economy, environment and society.  I would like to thank everyone involved and all our partners in delivering these results.”

Chris Evans, Director of Exeter Innovation, the University’s knowledge exchange service, said: “The results of KEF3 demonstrate an ongoing commitment at the University of Exeter to deliver excellent support for business and our partners across the region and across the world.”   

The Knowledge Exchange Framework aims to measure how effectively higher education providers are working with businesses, serving the economy, supporting their communities, and benefitting the wider public.   

It sits alongside the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and the Research Excellence Framework (REF) to help provide a complete assessment of the work conducted by universities.