Research, innovation and impact and the GuildHE Annual Conference 2014

This year’s GuildHE Annual Conference, which took place at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama on the 11th and 12th of November, Vice-Chancellors and Principals considered the interlinking themes of research, innovation and impact.

The panel was chaired by Professor Chris Gaskell, Principal of the Royal Agricultural University and Chair of CREST, and included presentations from Professor Cara Aitchison, Vice-Chancellor, University of St Mark and St John (and a Member of the REF2014 Panel responsible for assessing research in Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism); Dr Andy Dixon, Director of Research at the University of Chichester and Director of CREST; Paul Manners, Director of the NCCPE; and Dani Salvadori, Director of Innovation, Business and External Relations at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, who also contributed a case study to the GuildHE / CREST report on Innovation systems and the role of small and specialist Higher Education Institutions, which had been formally launched the previous evening and informed discussions on the day.

(c) Sophie Mutevelian 2014

Research, Innovation and Impact Panel, GuildHE Annual Conference 2014. Photograph by Sophie Mutevelian 2014

Dr Dixon summed up the major points covered by the panel:

Speaking at the annual GuildHE Conference on the ‘Research, Innovation, and Impact Panel’ was an excellent opportunity to showcase CREST and to share views with other colleagues on research impact.  It transpired that each of us on the panel added something different to the debate, yet there was sufficient commonality to be reassuring that ‘we are on the right tracks’ and that smaller and specialist institutions are significant players in this field.  I was keen to voice the view shared by many of my CREST colleagues that whilst the REF research impact agenda had been a ‘shot in the arm’ for the sector and a platform for useful debate and development about impact and its place in research, it was now time to deepen and broaden our understanding. In particular we should celebrate and develop the transformative power of research and its impact for our students, our staff, our local and regional communities in addition to those wider economic, social and cultural impacts described in detail in REF impact case studies.  I eagerly await the results of the REF [in December 2014] and the outcome of the HEFCE work around research impact; my instincts are that CREST institutions will do well in the impact section.  More than that I think that CREST has a role to play in developing the impact debate and I look forward to working with my CREST colleagues in this endeavour.