Posted Thursday 7 April 2022
A knowledge exchange leader with a track record of developing long-standing, impactful collaborations between universities, businesses and external organisations has been appointed to a senior role at Kingston University.
Dr Martin Davies will join Kingston in May as Pro Vice-Chancellor for Knowledge Exchange and Innovation. He has spent the past five years as Director for Innovation Partnerships at UCL, leading on establishing relationships with the likes of the National Physical Laboratory and AstraZeneca, as well as developing the institution's Knowledge Transfer Partnership portfolio.
During the Covid pandemic, he spearheaded a project that secured £1.4m of Innovate UK funding to deliver a programme that supports small firms in London to survive and thrive. Most recently, his team supported UCL's new strategic partnership with the National Trust, bringing together staff from both organisations to address important heritage challenges as well as offering secondment opportunities. He is also a past chair of PraxisAuril, the UK's leading professional association for knowledge exchange practitioners.
In his new role, Dr Davies will lead on Kingston University's knowledge exchange activity, building on its strong relationships with partners across London, as well as those across the United Kingdom and around the world. He will also be responsible for the strategic development of the University's degree apprenticeship provision, expanding opportunities for employers to develop their workforce and ensuring a diverse range of recruitment to apprentice positions.
The position was a particularly attractive opportunity as it demonstrated the importance Kingston University was placing on knowledge exchange, innovation and sharing expertise between industry and the higher education sector, Dr Davies said. "This area of work is so important for the world we live in, for our current and future students and for academic staff to fulfil their professional aspirations.
"Knowledge exchange provides the framework for sharing our research, expertise and ideas with the outside world, while innovation, as well as being a mindset, is about spotting opportunities and using high-value knowledge to meet them."
Alongside growing Kingston's reputation as a sector leader on partnerships with business and driving local impact through public and community engagement, building on the University's entrepreneurial strengths would also be a key focus, the experienced innovation and enterprise leader said. "Students and graduates are the greatest source of knowledge exchange and become our ambassadors in the workplace," he added. "Kingston is already one of the leading institutions in England for graduate start-ups and the more we can tie the work of our academics with our students, the greater the impact we can have."
Kingston University's Future Skills campaign, and its consultation with industry to understand the skills employers need now and for the future, was an example of how the higher education sector can support the country's future economic success, Dr Davies said. "There are wider conversations to have with businesses about how we can work together. Degree apprenticeships provide another rich set of connections with employers. As we develop and expand our provision, we need to ensure it continues to meet the changing needs of industry and that we are making the most of our relationships with firms we work with."
Having begun his career as an academic at the University of Greenwich after completing an undergraduate degree and PhD at Imperial College London, Dr Davies spent a decade as a research fellow, then senior lecturer and researcher. His interest in developing industry partnerships saw him then take up business development and innovation posts at the University of Surrey and the London Development Agency. He was subsequently appointed Director of the Knowledge East Centre for Knowledge Exchange at the University of East London.
In 2008 he returned to the University of Greenwich to take up the position of Director of Research and Enterprise, developing strategic relationships with businesses, funders, local authorities and regional development bodies until a move to UCL in 2016.
"The common thread throughout my career has been working in and around London through knowledge exchange, bringing in organisations and companies to drive activity that helps support its economy, from small and medium sized enterprises to large corporations," he said.
"The pandemic has had a significant impact across society and universities will have a huge part to play in supporting recovery efforts. I'm looking forward to applying the knowledge and experience I've gained in my career to develop Kingston University's existing relationships and take this work forward in exciting new directions. "
Welcoming Dr Davies' appointment, University Provost Professor Helen Laville said he would play an integral role in developing a network of industry, civic and community partners, working alongside academic and professional services colleagues to create new collaborative opportunities in both research and education.
"Dr Davies brings a wealth of experience in knowledge exchange, enterprise and innovation to his new role," she explained. "This, together with his commitment to making sure the connections the University forges really benefit our staff and students, will enable him to make a significant contribution to our work in this area."