For Staff

Research and innovation sector hubs: a quick guide

The 'hub' approach

The hub model was chosen because it will enable a more focused and strategic approach to the way we work with industry and other external partners. The aim of the hubs will be to develop meaningful partnerships with industry, attract further investment, maximise the impact of our research and foster research excellence. This approach:

  • marries external market demand with some of our recognised research and innovation strengths
  • is challenge driven, applying research excellence to issues of national and international importance
  • makes our research relevant to industry and external partners - because they are based on sectors rather than university faculties, schools or specialisms. This is more meaningful to our partners.

Hub activity will account for approximately 55% of our HEIF expenditure. The remaining funds are being used to support academics in developing partnerships and responding to new opportunities as they arise.

How were the hubs identified?

A detailed mapping exercise took place in 2010-11 and 14 sectors were identified. The selection criteria used included:

  • identified challenges of national and international importance (e.g. food security)
  • demonstrable market pull
  • externally recognised research strength
  • clear impact and innovation pathways built on existing and developing track record.

What are the 14 hubs?

The sector hubs to emerge from this selection process are:

  • Discrete sectors:
    • digital technologies
    • high value chemical manufacture
    • cultural & creative industries
    • professional services
    • transport systems
  • Energy and resources cluster:
    • energy
    • water
    • climate and geohazard services
  • Healthcare cluster:

It is recognised that overlaps exist between the emergent hubs. The governance and management of the hubs are working to ensure that these overlaps are recognised so that user organisations are approached in a coordinated manner. Intelligence and best practice will also be shared between hubs when appropriate.

How do the hubs work?

The hubs are at differing stages of development, ranging from established programmes that will be recognised through the sector model through to emerging areas that require additional market scoping and the creation of management and support infrastructure. A common operating model has been adopted by each hub, which broadly includes the following roles and groups:

- Hub Director
- Hub Innovation Manager
- Core academic delivery team
- Business Development Managers
- Advisory board of external stakeholders (some hubs have this type of board, but others are using different mechanisms to involve partners).

Leading academics have been appointed as Hub Directors and they are being supported by Hub Innovation Managers. The core academic delivery teams were drawn from across the Faculties. The Management Board is responsible for determining strategy and use of resources. External stakeholder representatives will assist in advising the Boards.

An innovation support infrastructure will be developed to match each sector specific requirements. This will include Business Development Managers with key account responsibilities, connecting with end-users to build productive relationships and provide feedback to shape operational activity.

Hub activity is being managed against delivery plans that draw investment funding from a range of sources. The HEIF investment allocated to the hubs is allocated to defined periods and reviewed annually.

For further information please contact:

Owen Adams, Impact and Innovation Manager
Research and Innovation Service
Room 2.24, Charles Thackrah Building

T: +44 (0)113 34 30912