Published on 27/09/2022
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Aston University, Birmingham
  • Knowledge Exchange Framework designed to assess and benchmark the profile of universities’ knowledge exchange activities
  • The real-world impact of Aston University’s work places it at the forefront of the sector
  • Performance driven by strengths in collaborative research with industry, regional SME support, IP commercialisation and student entrepreneurship.

Aston University has again been recognised as a top university for working with business by the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF).

Conducted by Research England, the KEF is designed to inform and assess knowledge exchange activities of UK higher education institutions and how they benefit society and the economy.

Aston University has been awarded the top rating for ‘working with business’ based on its research and development, consultancy and other innovation activities with industry and for its contribution to ‘local growth and regeneration’, drawing on its award-winning portfolio of support programmes for West Midlands small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

The results build on the University’s longstanding track record of developing high quality industrial research partnerships and its leading position in delivering flagship Government programmes such as Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.

It also reflects the scale and impact of its local business support and innovation programmes which are firmly embedded in the regional business support ecosystem focusing on areas such as leadership development, photonics, low carbon and artificial intelligence (AI).  

The KEF exercise also recognised Aston University’s work in commercialising academic research and commitment to nurturing student entrepreneurship, placing it in the top 40% across the sector.

Professor Aleks Subic, Vice-Chancellor of Aston University, said:

“Aston University has a longstanding track record of responding to the needs of our partners regionally, nationally and internationally.

“We are delighted that our contribution has been formally recognised by Research England through the KEF and look forward to building on these results as a platform for future growth.

“I want to thank and congratulate all our colleagues across the University who have contributed to this achievement and to thank our external stakeholders who support and engage with our knowledge exchange activities.”

Mark Smith, executive director of business engagement at Aston University, said:

“Knowledge exchange is integral to our mission, and we fully recognise our role in supporting industry, commerce and the public sector to increase both regional and national economic growth and job creation.

“The University also believes that KE is fundamental to delivering a world-class student experience and we have a pioneering reputation for graduate employability and student entrepreneurship.

“It is the combination of these factors and our commitment to social mobility, which makes Aston University unique in UK higher education.”

You can find out more about the results here.

Notes to Editors

About Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF)

KEF’s three key purposes are to enhance the profile of KE and increase accountability given increased funding, to provide UK higher education institutes (HEIs) with a useful source of information and data on their KE activities, for the purposes of understanding, benchmarking and improving their own performance and provide the public, businesses and other users (and potential users) of HEI knowledge with another source of information, which may increase visibility of potential university partners and their strengths.

The results are organised using seven perspectives and a broader series of underpinning metrics which explore how universities contribute to Working with Business, Local Growth and Regeneration, Intellectual Property and Commercialisation, Research Partnerships, CPD and Graduate Start-ups, Working with the Public and Third Sector and Public and Community Engagement.

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a university since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiary groups – students, business and the professions, and the West Midlands region and wider society. Located in Birmingham at the heart of a vibrant city, the campus houses all the University’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Aleks Subic is the Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.

In 2022 Aston University was ranked in the top 25 of the Guardian University Guide, based on measures including entry standards, student satisfaction, research quality and graduate prospects. The Aston Business School MBA programme was ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Sam Cook, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44)7446 910063 or email:

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