Our celebration ran over the week of the 7th December and each day offered a mixture of focused sessions, invited talks and panel discussions. All sessions throughout this week were recorded and delegates will have access to all content up to the 1st March so you can access anything you may have missed, or want to revisit.

If you missed this event altogether, you can still buy you delegate ticket and access ALL recorded session and special features!

Please note, recorded sessions will be available only to event delegates and will be accessible from January to March.

Day 1

Monday 7 December 2020

10:00 – 10:15


Sean Fielding, Chair of PraxisAuril Board and
Maxine Ficarra – CEO of PraxisAuril 

10:15 – 10:30

Sponsored by:

Welcome Keynote
Christian Evans, Customer Director-Public Sector and Industry Research at Jisc 

10:30 – 11:30

Building Back Better

Simonetta Manfredi - Oxford Brooks University

The pandemic has brought centre stage the importance of translating research into products and technologies that can benefit society. A number of university spinout companies have been in the papers recently as they are developing treatments against Covid 19 and faster testing methods. These companies will also play an important role in the economic recovery and contribute to local economies. However, there is a significant gender gap in spinout leadership, as only 13% of spinout companies are founded by female researchers. This suggests that universities are missing out on talent and by implications the economy is missing out on innovation. We will share some key findings from our research on women and spinouts (, funded by the EPSRC under its Inclusion Matters programme, and draw from the expertise and experience of the KE community to identify practical interventions to promote a more gender inclusive ecosystem.

12:00 – 13:30

Place and Rebalancing

Responding to the pandemic in the Liverpool City Region – What’s a University got to do with it?
Sonja Vujovic University of Liverpool 

As the pandemic continues we face resource and motivational challenges as well as uncertainty about the future. Can we use our standing as regional anchor institutions, trusted partners and advisors to provide resilience for our regions and what are the limitations of HEI’s reach?
The Liverpool City region has longstanding challenges including poor health outcomes, unemployment, low skills, poverty and high levels of inequality. Our University civic mission is to work with the city region to build strength and help address these challenges, many of which have been greatly exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic has brought the University closer with local health trusts, cultural organisations and government to address the immediate challenges of the pandemic but has also led to longer term planning with local authorities and business to try to catalyse a recovery through R&D investment, in the hope of building back a greener, more innovative and more inclusive economy.

University of Aberdeen and place-based KE support for the local economy
Zachary Hickman - University of Aberdeen

Traditionally, the Aberdeen economy has been heavily reliant upon the Oil & Gas/energy sector. The pandemic has had a significant negative impact upon that sector resulting in the loss of many jobs on top of significant job losses due to the earlier oil price crash. The University of Aberdeen has positioned itself as a supporter of the local economy, using its Knowledge Exchange strengths and academic expertise to help industry diversify, innovate and develop during this COVID-related downturn.

Enhancing impact on Place through Partnerships
Thandie Hara-Msulira - University of Oxford

Oxford as a case study to explore how we are using local partnerships to shape place-impact through innovation, growth, and influencing future planning.

14:00 – 15:00


Felicity Burch – CBI

Sean Fielding in conversation with Felicity Burch, Director of Innovation and Digital – CBI

Felicity leads the CBI’s policy work to create the conditions that enable businesses to come up with new ideas, invest in research and development (R&D) and adopt new technologies.

Prior to her current role, she spent two years as the Head of Innovation and Digital, where she led the CBI’s successful campaign for the government to commit to a target for R&D expenditure, as well as agenda-setting work on technology adoption. Felicity’s first role at the CBI was as the Principal Policy Adviser on labour markets, where she was responsible for the CBI’s agenda on pay and the future of work.

Felicity’s background is in Economic Policy, focused on business growth. Before the CBI, she was Senior Economist at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation. In this role she led the development of their innovation policy and industrial strategy work and delivered a breadth of economic and industrial trends research. She has also worked on Experian’s Economic Policy team, with a focus on regional growth.

15:00 – 16:00

What have we learned?

Katie Cooper & Phil Plumber - University of Bristol

The session is an open forum to share experiences of migrating workshops and networking events online over the past few months- the good, the bad and the ugly! We would like to run this event using two different online engagement styles- firstly an open whiteboard to collate people’s experiences (invoking Chatham House Rules and providing people with increased accessibility during the conference to engage at any point) and then a discussion session which draws on the hosts experiences of running different types of sessions online alongside those collated during the event. The output from this session would be a set of top tips/best practice/things to avoid document which would be shared with the community at large.

Due to the interactive nature of this session, places will be limited and offered on a first come first served basis. This session will be recorded and made available to all KEMatters delegates following the event.

16:00 – 17:30

What have we learned?

From Start-up to Scale-up – new approaches to supporting SMEs
Jeremy Hague - Nottingham Trent University

NTU has a £20m enterprise, skills and innovation programme supporting SMEs and we work with businesses at each stage of their development. During the pandemic we have provided vital support to local SMEs. We have continued to help businesses access the expertise, resources and graduate talent of the university - but we have needed to adapt our approaches, and we are still learning! Alongside this work, our academics are also providing direct input into policy and economic recovery planning. Our presentation will share this work and we are keen to learn from the experience of the PraxisAuril Network.

If we can get COVID deals signed in a week why can’t we do this for everything?
Angela Kukula - Institute for Cancer Research

At the height of the first wave of the pandemic we saw numerous licensing deals (from ventilators to vaccines) executed in a matter of days whereas pre-Covid licensing deals would often take weeks (or even months) to complete. In this session I will look at the factors that enabled the Covid deals to be done so quickly and whether any of these factors could be harnessed to allow us to get future deals done more quickly.

MedTech SuperConnector
Hiten Thakrar - MedTech SuperConnector

A case study in collaboration, experimentation and transitioning to online learning amid a COVID Pandemic environment.


19:00 – 20:00

KE After Dark

A round up of today’s events and discussions and a chance to carry on the best debates of the day.
Due to the interactive nature of this session, places will be limited and offered on a first come first served basis. 

Day 2

Tuesday 8 December 2020

09:00 – 09:30

Good Morning KE!
Today’s agenda with Alasdair Cameron 

10:00 – 11:30

Place and Rebalancing

Thames Valley AI Hub- building a local externally facing network through the pandemic
Sarah Werts - University of Reading

We set up the Thames Valley AI Hub in December last year to bring together those working in and with AI in the Thames Valley to accelerate innovation. This talk will describe how we adapted our events programme and built our network against the backdrop of COVID (we now have 750 members in our LinkedIn network). It will also cover how we plan to work with and gain insight from regional partners (e.g. LEP, Chambers of Commerce) to help support local businesses and the upskilling needed to enable economic recovery.

How Lancaster University supported regional SMEs through the pandemic
Mark Rushforth - Lancaster University

This included working in partnership with Lancashire and Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnerships, helping to create a manufacturing cluster to respond to requests for critical equipment, moving swiftly to online provision for our innovation support programmes and using our peer networks to enable businesses to support each other and share experiences of how they have adapted and operated during COVID.

Working with Intermediaries to support regional communities
Helen Toft - University of Birmingham

During the pandemic the University of Birmingham has worked with organisations such as Chamber and CBI to support their regional community. This presentation will outline how this was made to work, the benefits, and what the learnings have been.

12:00 – 13:00

Keep Calm and KE On

Jo North - Big Bang Partnership & Port of Tyne Innovation Hub 2050

How to creatively engage online with external and internal partners, including a case study from Port of Tyne Innovation Hub 2050. Port of Tyne Innovation Hub 2050 is a great example of knowledge exchange and will be used as a showcase of how to put together a network and the progress that's been made using virtual facilitation events on tackling some significant regional and global challenges.


13:30 – 15:00

Keep Calm and KE On

Vacuum Cleaner Ventilators - Innovation and collaboration during lockdown
Jim Fraser - Durham University

One of our partners came to us with the designs for a 3D-printed ventilator. Not pretty, not perfect, but powered by a vacuum cleaner engine that one of the team had brought in from his home in early, pre-lockdown days. This simple, portable and cost-effective solution to the UK’s desperate shortage of ventilators faced enormous logistical problems. It needed official recognition as a viable unit by the Medical Device accreditation bodies. It needed to ‘breathe’ at the right rate (12 breaths per minute) and we needed a ‘real’ ventilator to match the specifications of our first few iterations against- spare real ventilators were in very short supply!  We set up suitably distanced conversations with anaesthetists in UK and Australia in order to establish a use-case and we collaborated like crazy. Not only with our own Durham University staff and other regional university departments, but also by calling in favours, pulling in personal contacts, expanding existing professional relationships, and developing new ones.

Advantages of virtual KE - a personal perspective
Joanna Jordan - Freelance Mathematics Knowledge Exchange

Introducing the Virtual Forum for Knowledge Exchange in the Mathematical Sciences (, which was set up earlier this year to enable Maths KE during Covid. I will describe some of the online activities V-KEMS has organised (including industry-facing workshops), and, from a personal perspective talk about how this new way of working has been compatible with my young family.

Creating an IP licensing platform to fight COVID-19
Marina Santilli - UCL

UCLB’s Business Manager, Marina Santilli, has developed an IP licensing platform,, and this year it took off as UCL and UCLB quickly disseminated free of charge licence to the design and manufacturing files of a breathing aid developed by UCL, UCLH and Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (Mercedes-AMG HPP) to support healthcare systems preparing for the COVID-19 pandemic. Marina can shed light on how UCL were able to quickly pivot and use the platform to share key design files so academics around the world could download and manufacturer the breathing aids.  More info on the platform can be found here:


15:30 – 16:30

IP Access During a Crisis
With Iain Thomas – Cambridge Enterprise, Adam Stoten – Oxford University Innovation and Anne Lane – UCL Business Ltd

19:00 – 20:00

KE After Dark

A round up of today’s events and discussions and a chance to carry on the best debates of the day.
Due to the interactive nature of this session, places will be limited and offered on a first come first served basis. 

Day 3

Wednesday 9 December 2020

09:00 – 09:30

Good Morning KE!
Today’s agenda with Alasdair Cameron 

10:00 – 11:30

Building Back Better

What are we good for (not only what are we good at)?
Kate Miller - University of Bristol

This presentation explores how the pandemic has shifted research and KE priorities towards how we can help aid the resilience and recovery of our localities and citizens, and how KE professionals are supporting this.  At a time when REF, KEF and other agendas might be pushing us towards large global economic impacts, it’s been encouraging to see universities support local, positive social changes.  But how long might this last?

Adapting BCU’s business support offer – a needs based approach
Ben White Birmingham City University

This presentation will explore the different approaches and impact on our KE/KT offers during the pandemic and the potential for lasting change. We were in the process of re-launching our business support platform ( when the pandemic started. We used this to create a new microsite in response to SME needs, providing webinars that addressed the urgent need for knowledge about social media, online customer engagement and also the skills to deal with change, anxiety and productivity in lock-down world.  Our business development teams listened to business clients to provide sensitive outreach. The overall support offer changed to an online or blended delivery model. This included running group innovation challenges as series of online meetings instead of a two-day workshop. Close collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce and GBSLEP Growth Hub ensured good reach.

Working Across UK Government to Rapidly Commission COVID-19 Research
Mike Rogers - NIHR Central

Since the emergence of COVID-19, NIHR has been working closely with other funders and government agencies and departments to rapidly commission and deliver a wide range of research to tackle a range of aspects of the pandemic.  This talk will describe how we operated rapid funding processes and provide some more detail on the exciting research funded through these mechanisms.

11:30 – 13:00

Keep Calm and KE On

Managing the transition of a small highly loaded KT team during the COVID pandemic
Paul Dillon - University of Limerick

On the 12th March the TTO was given 6 hours’ notice to transition to remote working for an initial period of three weeks. The team has worked remotely since and will remain doing so for the foreseeable future.  In the seven months of lockdown, the TTO team concluded over 300 legal agreements, many related to research collaborations with companies, handled the trade sale of two spinout companies, concluded a number of licence agreements, including a complex framework licence agreement with a  US company valued at over €1m, facilitated the safe return to work for 21 start-up companies and delivered a Covid test research facility within at our bio incubation labs. The TTO team also completed new Policies for conflict of interest and IP management implemented a number of IT workflow solutions to streamline KT operations.

Say YES to developing entrepreneurial skills from far, far away…
Simon Cutler - University of Reading

The University of Reading’s Knowledge Transfer Centre (KTC) has for many years nurtured in our Early Career Researchers (ECRs) business awareness and entrepreneurship skills through the Young Entrepreneurs Scheme ( YES celebrates its 25th Anniversary in December 2020 and teams from our University have been competing since the very start, picking up many trophies in the national finals along the way. The programme has a positive impact on our commercialisation culture by enhancing skills and embedding knowledge in individuals and departments.
This year at Reading - despite lockdown - we have attracted a record-breaking 24 individuals across 5 teams, so there is a pleasing appetite on campus for this type of experiential training. Due to this pesky pandemic, in order to best prepare participants as they embark on their first commercial adventures, the KTC has worked with friends at Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship and the Henley Business Angel Network to develop and deliver wrap-around support akin to pre-accelerator support programme. We describe how we have had to adapt to a changing virtual world, extending training from a 3-month to 9-month gestation. Say YES to new adventures…

Following the science - successful commercialisation during a pandemic
Anne Muir - University of Dundee

During the pandemic we’ve spun out companies, won new significant commercial R&D programmes and expanded one of our strategic partnerships. Our spin outs have also won awards and raised significant investment. Investment and commercial interest continues to follow excellent science and we’ve managed to adapt and continue to capitalise on this.

13:30 – 14:30

Keep Calm and KE On

Jennie Shorley  - Manchester Metropolitan University &

Mark Rushforth - Lancaster University

The Knowledge Exchange Concordat is ushering in a new focus on Knowledge Exchange as a key university activity. Professional Development for those working in KE is a central pillar to this Vice-Chancellor level commitment signalled by the signing of Concordats in 2020, which draws attention to the vast range of roles and functions that KE professionals undertake.

Our workshop will examine a professional development framework of key skills, knowledge and behaviours in knowledge exchange – how it has been used and how it can be used to support those who work in knowledge exchange to develop their own careers.

15:00 – 16:00

Sean Fielding in conversation with Iain Thomas, Head of Life Sciences – Cambridge Enterprise

19:00 – 20:00

KE After Dark

A round up of today’s events and discussions and a chance to carry on the best debates of the day.
Due to the interactive nature of this session, places will be limited and offered on a first come first served basis. 

Day 4

Thursday 10 December 2020

09:00 – 09:30

Good Morning KE!
Today’s agenda with Alasdair Cameron 

10:00 – 11:30

Work Life Balance

Maintaining team cohesion when you can’t physically be together
Angela Kukula - Institute for Cancer Research

Since the start of the pandemic, most knowledge exchange teams have had to work remotely. This raises challenges for how to maintain team cohesion and morale. As we face an extended period of having to work from home, I will share a few ideas from the ICR and elsewhere for maintaining team spirit.

The importance of nurturing your informal and formal networks
Heike Schuster-James - Birmingham City University

Working from home has become the ‘new normal’ for many of us. If you’re used to being part of a team, with constant interaction in the office, working from home five days a week can feel a little (choose your favourite…) … daunting, lonesome, pressurised, unmotivated?
I’m fortunate to work as part of a great team, with established offline relationships and a well-functioning organisational IT provision. I’ve had practice working from home for one or two days a week for many years. Still, working from home since March for all of the week has had its highs and lows. In this presentation, I’d be sharing ideas on how can we amplify the good stuff and mitigate the less good.

My remote introduction to KTP
Joanna Davies - University of Reading

I joined the Knowledge Transfer Centre at the University of Reading in May 2020 as their Knowledge Transfer Partnerships Co-ordinator after 10 years in the Admissions department. I had never worked in a KE role before so had to adapt not only to a new role but also to a completely new area within HE. I have gone through a full induction and now two KTP submission deadlines, which has presented a huge challenge. I have learned a lot about KTP but there is still much more to get to grips with. I have had great support from my team but have not yet met most of them in person and have never sat at my office desk. With home working looking likely to continue into 2021, I will need to continue to adapt to co-ordinating KTP activities remotely.

11:30 – 12:30

Tim Boyle, Director of Innovation & Commercialisation at ANSTO (Australia's Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation)
Alison Campbell OBE,  Director at KTI (Knowledge Transfer Ireland)
James Zanewicz, Chief Business Officer at Tulane University and
Maxine Ficarra, CEO of PraxisAuril

In this session we will hear from our KE colleagues in Australia, Ireland and the US about their own experiences of how KE practitioners mobilise and innovate during a crisis. Tim, Alison and James will describe the challenges they have faced in their own organisations and political contexts and some of the solutions that they and their teams have conceived during the pandemic, from maintaining the spirit and cohesion of those remote teams, to use of technology and design thinking, to academic engagement and harnessing business and stakeholder attention. What have we learned in 2020? How can we apply our new thinking to our future ways of working, so that they are relevant in a local and an international context? Come and join in with our discussion, ask questions directly of our panel during the session and connect directly with your KE peers from around the globe.

James Zanewicz

Tim Boyle

Alison Campbell OBE

Maxine Ficarra

12:30 – 13:00

Cloud Computing

Sponsored by: 

Colm Blake, Cloud Solutions Consultant with Jisc

Are you confident your research data is secure?  


This is your opportunity in an open floor session to explore your requirements for a collaborative research space in the cloud.  We are aiming to build a place where academic, funder and industry partners can work together, secure in the knowledge that the data is safe and meets industry standard complacence.  We are seeking your input as we develop a product that will work for you and the wider research sector. 

13:30 – 14:30

Business Development at a Distance

Martin Davies, Director for Innovation Partnerships & Michael Reynier, Principal Partnerships Manager -
UCL Innovation & Enterprise

‘What are the challenges to your business caused by Covid-19, and how do you think you need to adapt in the next 6 months?’ Through these two simple questions, and a series of rapid format online meetings with partners across commercial, public and charitable sectors, we have opened up new areas of research and knowledge exchange, and enhanced ways for UCL to support the economy and society. In this presentation we will describe how our ‘COIN’ meetings operate and share ideas on how to get the best out of meetings ‘at a distance’.

15:00 – 16:30

Business Development at a Distance

Keepy-Uppy: Collaborative Football Research in Lockdown
Simon Cutler - University of Reading

The University of Reading’s Knowledge Transfer Centre has helped assemble an impressive football research team over the past year, much of it during lockdown at a distance. The “home” team” constitutes academic experts in economics & finance, mental health, gender, and community. Hear how our hard work and creative relationship management has brought together an impressive number of signings to form a full “away” team (11 plus subs) consisting of local, national and international footballing organisations, from top-end Championship football clubs to football associations to mental health / community charities and beyond. They think it’s all over, it’s only just begun…

Change at the speed of digital: The impact on business development and relationships
Joanna Birch - Birmingham City University

A presentation with reflections on: the opportunity to accelerate organisational change, learning new skills and behaviours to reach out, communicate and network online (external and internal); impact on communication lines, digital skills and soft skills; digital infrastructure; challenges of working with public and private sector. From the perspective of BCU’s partnership team, whose remit is to broker relationships between industry and faculty and create income and growth opportunities for the university.

Role of University Business Support during Covid
John Stenhouse - University of Essex

Working with local & national business support agencies to provide a one stop shop for advice and innovative support through University Enterprise Zones. Empowering business owners to face new challenges and overcome adversity to create sustainable businesses, that provide the right employment opportunities.

19:00 – 20:00

KE Quiz!

Join Tamsin & Alasdair for a festive test of your KE knowledge
Due to the interactive nature of this session, places will be limited and offered on a first come first served basis. 

Day 5

Friday 11 December 2020

09:00 – 09:30

Good Morning KE!
Today’s agenda with Alasdair Cameron 

10:00 – 11:00

Keep Calm and KE On

Chris Fellingham  - ASPECT

This talk will give an overview of the ASPECT Research Commercialisation (ARC) Accelerator, focusing on the learning both at a programmatic level and more broadly for social science commercialisation before looking ahead to areas of growth for social science commercialisation. We will also share how we have adapted the programme to move online in response to Covid-19, and what it means to be doing market validation remotely. The ARC Accelerator (formerly the SUCCESS Accelerator) is a 6-9 month accelerator providing entrepreneurial skill training, market validation and prize funding for social science researchers to develop ventures.

12:00 – 13:00

Future Planning

Partnerships, Purpose and a Pandemic 
Michelle Spillar - University of Exeter 

2020 has been a year of unpreceded uncertainty for the University Sector, with a shifting political landscape and major disruption caused by coronavirus.  In a time of change and disruption, a focus on creating a sense of certainty can enable progress and growth.  As KE professionals, the relationships we hold and our understanding of the broader business environment is one of our great strengths.  This presentation will look at the changing role of strategic relationships in a KE portfolio, examine the political drivers towards enhanced partnership and explore the practical ways in which strategic relationship management can innovate and adapt to respond new working practices and business ideals.

A KE system in recovery
Karim Mahmoud - Inspire Alliance

The coronavirus pandemic is having an enormous impact with its effects being felt in every area of our lives, and it has deeply impacted the KE landscape and profession. This pandemic has underscored the necessity for coordination across sectors and with knowledge communities. The next normal will require a range of organisations and other actors to adapt fast to the new circumstances to be successful. In this presentation, we will discuss some of the main challenges facing the KE system and we will ask questions about the future – how we should rewire ways of working, reimagine organisational structures, and readapt talent? As our response to the crisis evolves, so must the entire KE sector through new ways of working.


14:00 – 14:30

Event Close
With Sean Fielding, Maxine Ficarra and Alasdair Cameron