The Hidden Story: Mapping knowledge exchange partnerships for the Creative Economy

Lead Research Organisation: Kingston University
Department Name: Sch of Design


The purpose of this research is to develop a new methodology for understanding the extent, nature and impact of universities' knowledge exchange partnerships within England and Wales' Creative Economy. This will build on the work of earlier University Alliance research, such as Creating Innovative Regions (2016), identifying the crucial leadership and connecting roles universities play via: longstanding graduate networks; close relations with local businesses and public sector bodies; their alignment to regional strengths; the extent to which they act as hubs for KE activity; and their contribution to the Creative Economy ecosystem. It will also build on the analysis of the AHRC's Knowledge Exchange hubs and Brighton Fuse.

The pilot takes Alliance universities as a test case for developing the new methodology to tell the 'hidden story' of partnership activities, with broadened access allowing us to combine robust data mapping techniques with qualitative analyses to reveal underlying factors and insights.

The study takes place within an institutional context, and therefore needs to take into account existing frameworks, priorities, investment strategies, governance, organisational structures, external engagement, labour divisions, reward systems, resources, expertise, and cultural doctrines. Situating KE operations within the wider ecosystem - in a similar manner to the innovation studies around regional economic development attempted by many geographers - will also allow us to address not just outcomes, but include the power relations and decision-making processes missed by other studies.
In doing this, the project will undertake a gap analysis identifying the limits of existing data sets, and will seek to make recommendations for institutions and policy makers accordingly that will address existing systems and practices.

Although the focus will be local, exploring the role of universities as 'anchors' in their regions, the mapping exercise will also examine existing Alliance KE partnership activities with international development potential.

Planned Impact

This research will also be of particular relevance to key beneficiary groups beyond the academy - including:

- i) individuals & professional/practitioner groups; & ii) private & third sector organisations/institutions, including museums and galleries, in the creative and cultural sector seeking to gain from new knowledge, practices & ideas. The project will increase impact through the optimisation of existing, & creation of new, modes/models of KE engagement

- the Arts Council, Creative Industries Federation, Creative and Cultural Skills, Creative Skillset & other public-sector agencies in regard to policy. The project will produce a breakdown of the policy implications for beneficiaries and stakeholders in a digestible format for wide dissemination, enabling the development of appropriate KE strategies & mechanisms at regional, national & potentially international levels, &

- beyond these, indirectly to local communities & the wider public in general through greater access to improved cultural & creative offerings.


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Description The Hidden Story research assessed the modes and impacts of university knowledge exchange with the creative industries, the existing funding structures and gaps in visibility using existing data.

The findings recognise that creative industries are distinct from many other sectors, requiring specialised approaches in funding and policy interventions:
- The creative industries produce cultural and social value as well as economic value. They help make meaning as well as money.
- The creative industries play a key role in the growth of city regions producing higher quality of life.
- The creative industries are characterised by a high proportion of dynamic micro-businesses and SMEs with a reliance on freelance labour forces.
- Collaborative, rather than competitive, activity generates growth in the creative industries, which thrive through the sharing of ideas, excitement and expertise that produce clusters with long-term economic and social impact.

UK universities are being drawn into closer and more intimate relationships with the Creative Industries and cultural sectors. As well as forming the most important talent pipeline for this sector, universities contribute to creative industry innovation through convening and leading networks and research and knowledge exchange. In return, universities gain benefits for their students, new research investments, impact and engagement opportunities. This research proposes a standardised taxonomy for these activities, to provide the Creative Industries, policy makers, regional authorities and university leaders with a common language for possible interventions.

Furthermore, the ways in which universities create value for the sector require different models of collaboration support than conventional tech transfer innovation processes:
- Collaboration, exchange and shared investigation with creative and cultural partners are central processes for university knowledge exchange
- Funders as well as universities play different roles in the creative industry ecosystem, which requires a joined-up approach to ensure the full ladder of innovation is supported
- The majority of university-creative industry collaborative activity is currently 'invisible' through national funding data analyses. Of the fifteen Alliance universities scrutinized, the public data represented only 28% of the number and 62% of the value of the awards recorded by the institutions themselves.

Few research management systems are currently geared to the cultural and creative sectors. The Data Toolkit developed within the project has improved the quality of the data re knowledge exchange with the Creative Industries. Used in partnership with regional leaders, this may lead to better understanding and planning in developing the local cultural & creative economy.

Finally, mechanisms for understanding the return on public investment are poor. Arts & Humanities research overlaps with the Creative Economy but is not limited to this, generating far broader societal and wellbeing benefits. Research in other disciplines can also have creative economy implications. The research proposes the development of an Impact Compass to be used by university and regional leaders to gain a 360° perspective on the impact and performance of a project or a portfolio of projects, to help shape future investment decisions.
Exploitation Route The research proposes the development of an evaluative toolset - the Impact Compass - to be used by university and regional leaders. This will provide a 360° perspective on the impact and performance of a project or a portfolio of projects, to inform and shape the impacts of KE relationships and their contributions to the specific contexts of local Creative Industries.

The aim is to benefit communities of academics, practitioners, research managers and local stakeholders by harnessing knowledge exchange, and using this to inform the allocation of cultural resources to achieve social and economic benefits. This is manifest in metrics such as innovation and job creation, and makes regions more liveable and attractive places to residents, businesses and inward investment, impacting on:
- social and cultural cohesion,
- learning infrastructures,
- the fostering of innovation;
- wealth creation; and
- the creation of quality places.

The approach promotes an improved understanding of regional civic/community engagement and contributions of knowledge exchange to allow evaluation and planning of interventions & cultural strategies.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Environment,Healthcare,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description The project team have engaged with regional borough councils & third sector organisations in the mapping of current cultural activities re development of more inclusive & integrated cultural strategies.These insights have been disseminated via a series of regional workshops. The approach & toolsets have also contributed to strategic planning in a number of public-private CI initiatives. A number of funding applications have been made to pilot a regional observatory.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services

Title Cultural Impact Compass 
Description The Cultural Impact Compass, developed within the project, provides a visualisation & analytical tool for research managers, university leaders & regional authorities to gain a 360° perspective on the impact & performance of projects on a wide cross-section of stakeholders, communities & indices; the latter include quality of life, uptake, attainment, opportunity cost & economic activity metrics. The Compass promotes an improved understanding of regional civic/community engagement, & the contributions & contradictions of knowledge exchange to enable more insightful evaluation & the improved planning of interventions. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Since completion of the project, the Compass tool has been trialled with a number of local & regional authorities to plan intervention initiatives within their creative industries sectors, & to refine the robustness & practicality of the evaluative metrics. Cases include Croydon Council's Creative Enterprise Zone intervention. 
Description ARMA Annual Conference 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 40 research managers across the spectrum of UK HEIs attended a Hidden Story workshop session at the 2017 ARMA Annual Conference held in Liverpool.
This sought to disseminate key findings relating to the design & coordination of CRIS's (current research information management systems), how such systems may be improved, & a demonstration of how the visualisation tools developed within the Hidden Story support HE involvement in regional cultural & economic strategies.
This led to discussion of approaches to impact monitoring, & the offer of additional case materials.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description Presentation to the Creative Industries Federation, Higher & Further Education Working Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 75 creative practitioners, business owners & academics attended the Creative e Industries Federation Working Group to explore knowledge exchange models & activity exemplars. This stimulated discussion in the areas of spill over & indirect impact, resulting in requests for further involvement.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description The Evaluation & Measurement of Cultural Impact, Panel Session, The Creativity/Knowledge/Cities Conference, DCRC/UWE, Bristol, July 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This panel session, delivered as part of a national Creative Economies conference, provided an opportunity to disseminate & discuss approaches to the evaluation & measurement of cultural impact to an audience of over 120 people comprising policy makers, practitioners, creative communities, third sector organisations & academics.
This generated significant interest in further trials & pilot studies, & discussion of a possible National Cultural Impact Observatory.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018