4. Knowledge Exchange
Knowledge exchange (KE) is the principal activity through which outputs from research are shaped, shared and communicated with target audiences. A focus on an outward facing programme of KE is therefore of critical importance in reaping the benefits of SG's research investment and achieving improved outcomes for Scotland's environment, economy and her people. KE is essential for:
- Engaging with users: strengthening networks and increasing the penetration and impact of the science and research institutions we support;
- Communicating achievements to target audiences and raising the profile of SG's investment in science and recognition, across a broad range of audiences, of the value and relevance of science to their everyday lives;
- Promoting openness and access to the research and science we fund.
The 2011-2016 Research Programme heralds a number of changes from the previous programme in relation to knowledge exchange including:
- Greater engagement with policy to meet short, medium and longer-term policy needs;
- An increased focus on activities that help to stimulate all aspects of innovation (including improved business practices and the exploitation of new commercial opportunities);
- Active engagement with Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and the farming community where appropriate.
The key customers for SG's research investment in the rural affairs and environment portfolio are Ministers and policy divisions within the Scottish Government. Key users and audiences alongside SG include CAMERAS partners, sector-based stakeholders, commercial businesses, the general public and the scientific community.
RESAS's experience is that within programmes of commissioned research then KE activities directed towards scientific audiences flow naturally and resources to support this are thus embedded in the costs of the research. It cannot, however, be assumed that KE activities directed to other audiences will happen without some additional encouragement and support. Specific resources to be directed towards non-scientific audiences have therefore been identified within individual research Themes representing a minimum of 5% of the total value of each theme.
A collaborative KE Strategy involving all partners is essential for the effective co-ordination of activities across the portfolio and target audiences and end users. To that end, a Knowledge Transfer and Exchange (KTE) strategy has been prepared by the MRPs and agreed by RESAS. This KTE Strategy identifies a number of objectives including:
- To implement KTE strategies that represent the principal activity through which outputs from the research programme and funding for underpinning capacity are shaped, shared and communicated with key target audiences;
- To deliver valid KTE approaches that stimulate and deepen engagement with the key target audiences;
- To describe methods by which the impact of KTE outcomes can be assessed and measured;
- To devise outcome-based criteria against which success for each audience can be measured.
Its five target audiences are:
- Scottish Government including those involved in the design and delivery of policy;
- Stakeholders including farmers, land based industries and healthcare professionals;
- Commercial businesses including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs);
- The scientific community within and outwith Scotland;
- The general public including schools and other sectors across communities.
RESAS takes the broadest possible view of KE and proactively uses its position to capitalise on opportunities to enhance networking and communication. Examples include the provision of funding for the John Hope Gateway building at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh as a centre for public engagement with science and support for the 'knowledgescotland' project that included the establishment of a website to support collaboration and communication across the MRPs and to begin to build links between the research and policy communities. RESAS has also used its Contract Research Fund to support projects that increase the utility of, and access to, key datasets, most recently the 'Scottish Soils Database and Website' project.
RESAS occupies a unique location between the scientific community supported through its research portfolio and the policy divisions of the Scottish Government which that portfolio supports. It has used this position to support closer working between the two communities for example through work-shadowing schemes; road shows; a 'policy partners' scheme; developing a CAMERAS rural affairs and environment evidence needs strategy; increasing the profile of commissioned work by prioritising KE work around 'umbrella topics' and the introduction of new initiatives such as Centres of Expertise.
These activities and those outlined above are collectively contributing to strengthening existing links and putting knowledge exchange at the heart of the strategic research portfolio.
Email: Scott Boyd
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