At The University of Manchester we contribute to knowledge exchange across the full range of our core objectives of excellence and impact in research, teaching and social responsibility. Innovation and Civic Engagement are key themes in our Strategic Plan. Our activities cover the full range of KE activity including: business engagement through strategic partnerships with key corporates and a wide range of activities to support SMEs; commercialisation of intellectual property; student entrepreneurship and career support; extensive engagement with policymaking locally, nationally and internationally; and through involving the public and our community in our work via our award-winning cultural institutions which a museum, an art gallery, a heritage library and the UNESCO World Heritage Site at the Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope.
Innovation and enterprise have been core activities for the University of Manchester since our foundation during the Industrial Revolution. Ensuring that the knowledge we create and the people that we educate benefit society is crucial, be it for the economy through new business, improved productivity and ‘levelling-up’ regional inequalities, to address the grand challenges that we face including health and the environment, to support the cultural and creative sectors and to engage the public with our work. In recent years we have built a strong platform to advance this area. We are consistently highly ranked for collaborative research (by value/volume), with the larger part coming through strategic partnerships with major innovative firms, have a leading position in England for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (one of our key instruments for working with SMEs) and produce significant numbers of spinouts and licensing opportunities through our technology transfer subsidiary the UoM Innovation Factory. We are active shareholders in Manchester Science Partnerships, the UK’s largest science park organisation and work with them to support hundreds of co-located firms. Surveys also place us as the top destination for graduate employers.
Our perspective on knowledge exchange is global, national and local. Close bonds with our city region lead to joined up action with local actors including local government, the NHS and the private sector and contribute heavily to our distinctiveness. We have learned from evaluations, such as the science and innovation audit, to shape our local growth strategy and drive partnerships to address needs aligned to our areas of expertise such as health innovation, advanced manufacturing and materials and the digital sector. We have active KE partnerships with other Greater Manchester universities. Links extend to the Northwest and to the wider North of England and are reflected in our regular collaborations in KE with other universities including via the N8 Research Partnership and the Northern Health Science Alliance. We are active in outward-facing national initiatives, including hosting the Royce Institute for Advanced Materials and through our graphene innovation ecosystem (the National Graphene Institute and the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre). These have also helped our global contribution attracting inward investment to the UK from several continents.
We contribute to the decisions that will affect us and our future direction by engaging regularly with key City, regional and national government stakeholders to influence policy and strategy that affects us and the communities around us. We’re also recognised for our inclusive approaches to working with diverse communities including citizen science, volunteering and policy engagement.
We want our 40,000 students to love their time with us and reach their full potential. We welcome the fact that increasing numbers stay living and working with us after they graduate to benefit the economy and make Manchester a better place. Our employer engagement activities help them achieve their ambitions after they leave us. For those who want to pursue entrepreneurial careers, our Masood Entrepreneurship Centre offers training and high profile, rewarding, venture competitions which launch their start-up companies, in commercial and social enterprise sectors.
For further information, please send queries to Shanta.Aphale-Coles@manchester.ac.uk
Local Growth and Regeneration
Summary of approach
We work with our partners in the Oxford Road, Greater Manchester and the North to support local growth and regeneration, focused on: linking our scientific strengths to local industrial opportunities; strengthening our local innovation ecosystem; and delivering agile knowledge exchange and commercialisation services. Over the past three years we have:
developed new facilities and programmes to enable local businesses to benefit from our nationally-leading capabilities in advanced materials, health innovation, and digital;
invested in our main campus and cultural assets to help transform the Oxford Road into a vibrant innovation district;
supported local residents to access employment opportunities through The Works, our dedicated recruitment and training initiative; and
re-positioned our core innovation services to meet the needs of local businesses.
Aspect 1: Strategy
Our five-year strategic plan ‘Our Future’, (https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/vision/) was developed based on extensive consultation with staff and students and public and private stakeholders from our local area and demonstrates our strong commitment to local growth and regeneration. Our themes of Innovation and Civic Engagement underpin everything we do and inform how we approach our core goals of Research & Discovery, Teaching & Learning, and Social Responsibility. Taking this integrated approach allows us to maximise the impact of our activities on the local economy.
Fig 1. Goals and Themes of Our Future
We consider our local area to operate at three key levels:
Oxford Road Corridor (ORC)
Our main Campus is located in the ORC innovation district, south of Manchester city centre and home to 50% of the city’s key innovation assets, 80,000 jobs and 9,000 businesses. It neighbours some of the most deprived wards in the country. We are a founding partner of the ORC Partnership (https://oxfordroadcorridor.com/), which brings together stakeholders in higher education, business, health and the local authority who together have developed a shared ORC strategy (http://www.corridormanchester.com/uploads/6/6/4/9/66491001/final_version_40pp.pdf) focused on local growth and regeneration.
Greater Manchester (GM)
We are located in the city centre region that covers the 10 local authority districts of GM. We play a central role in local public-private governance arrangements, with our President and Vice-Chancellor sitting on the Board of the GM Local Enterprise Partnership (http://gmlep.com/) and our senior representatives on key advisory boards around inward investment, business support, innovation, and tourism. In 2016, we played a lead role in the GM and Cheshire East Science and Innovation Audit (http://documents.manchester.ac.uk/display.aspx?DocID=30337), which identified national and international opportunities to capitalise on our distinctive and multidisciplinary research strengths. Between 2016 and 2019 we jointly funded the GM Inclusive Growth Analysis Unit (https://www.mui.manchester.ac.uk/igau/), which developed evidence-based policies for economic growth and poverty reduction in the city region. Our researchers also contributed to the 2019 GM Independent Prosperity Review (https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/what-we-do/economy/greater-manchester-independent-prosperity-review/). This evidence base underpins the GM Local Industrial Strategy (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/greater-manchester-local-industrial-strategy/greater-manchester-local-industrial-strategy), co-led by our President and Vice Chancellor and agreed between GM and government in 2019, which sets out a plan to build on our strengths to improve productivity and prosperity across the city region and beyond.
The North of England
The importance of our assets in key northern industries was highlighted in the Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review (https://www.sqw.co.uk/insights-and-publications/northern-powerhouse-independent-economic-review/), which formed the basis for the UK government’s Northern Powerhouse Strategy (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/571562/NPH strategy_web.pdf). We are active members of several collaborative partnerships growing the economy and prosperity of the North, including the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (http://www.northernpowerhousepartnership.co.uk/) the North West Business Leadership Team (https://nwblt.com/), and the N8 Research Partnership (https://www.n8research.org.uk/).
We work closely with Northern Local Enterprise Partnership areas, including:
Cheshire & Warrington where we have strong scientific and industrial partnerships, including Jodrell Bank Observatory and Discovery Centre (https://www.jodrellbank.net/), Alderley Park (https://www.alderleypark.co.uk/science) and Sci-Tech Daresbury (https://stfc.ukri.org/about-us/where-we-work/daresbury-laboratory/) and
Cumbria where our Dalton Nuclear Institute (https://www.dalton.manchester.ac.uk/research/facilities/cumbria-facilities/) provides cutting-edge nuclear science capabilities.
Based on the opportunities and needs identified for our local areas, our priorities for local growth and regeneration are:
Linking our science base to local industrial opportunities. Over the past three years we have focused on developing facilities and programmes to link our internationally-recognised research strengths in advanced materials, health innovation and digital with local economic opportunities.
Strengthening the innovation ecosystem in the ORC. We work with our partners in the ORC, GM and North to drive R&D-led growth across the North and beyond and connect local residents to opportunities.
Agile knowledge exchange and commercialisation services. Our broad and deep research strengths create significant partnership opportunities and our core innovation services are positioned to meet the needs of our local areas.
Aspect 2: Activity
Linking our science base to local industrial opportunities
Graphene and advanced materials
Following the opening of the National Graphene Institute (https://www.graphene.manchester.ac.uk/about/ngi/), in 2015, we have created:
The Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC; https://www.graphene.manchester.ac.uk/about/geic/). Opened in 2018, GEIC is an industry-led centre to accelerate the development and scale-up of graphene and other 2D materials. The £60m centre is 50% funded by industry sponsorship we secured. The GEIC has run an ERDF-funded ‘Bridging the Gap’ (https://www.graphene.manchester.ac.uk/business/sme/) programme to encourage GM SMEs to adopt advanced materials.
The Henry Royce Institute (HRI; https://www.royce.ac.uk/). Opened in 2019, HRI is the national centre for advanced materials and accelerates the invention and take up by industry of new materials. In 2020, the HRI was awarded £10m ERDF funding to support GM SMEs to develop and adopt new sustainable plastics via the Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub (https://www.royce.ac.uk/smi-hub/)
We have focused on accelerating the health and economic benefits of our research through our relationship with the devolved health and social care services in GM. Significant activities include:
Formed in 2017, Health Innovation Manchester (HinM; https://healthinnovationmanchester.com/about-us/) convenes our research strengths into a single innovation ecosystem to deliver innovation into frontline care at pace and scale. HinM now has a pipeline of more than 80 innovation projects that are addressing local health priorities and creating new jobs and growth.
In 2020, we were awarded £4.5m ERDF funding to support GM SMEs to accelerate the commercial exploitation of HinM health innovation proof of concept projects
The £25m Christabel Pankhurst Institute for Health Technology, (https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/multimillion-pound-research-institute-for-health-to-open-in-manchester/), which is opening in 2021, will capitalise on our strengths in digital health and advanced materials to develop innovative products and services for the health care sector.
To accelerate commercial partnerships in digital, Digital Futures (http://www.digitalfutures.manchester.ac.uk/) provides a single front door to over 1,000 of our researchers in 30 multidisciplinary research centres. We have partnered in smart cities demonstrators in the ORC including City Verve (https://cityverve.org.uk/) and Triangulum (https://www.mui.manchester.ac.uk/research/projects/triangulum/). We are part of two ERDF-funded projects in collaboration with Lancaster, Salford and Manchester Metropolitan universities providing support to GM SMEs on digital security via the GM Cyber Foundry (https://gmcyberfoundry.ac.uk/) and AI for innovation and growth via the GM AI Foundry (https://www.mmu.ac.uk/business-school/business/sme-support/aifoundry/).
Strengthening the innovation ecosystem in the ORC
Since 2017, we have undertaken significant investment and activities to develop the innovation ecosystem of the ORC, including:
Campus Masterplan and ID Manchester
In 2021-22, we will complete our 10-year Campus Masterplan (https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/governance/corporate-documents/campus-masterplan/), a £1bn capital investment, and a key element of the ORC vision to become a world-leading innovation district. The new Manchester Engineering Campus Development (https://www.mecd.manchester.ac.uk/), will significantly enhance our ability to collaborate with local manufacturing and engineering firms. The completion of the Masterplan includes the development of the North Campus into ID Manchester (https://www.id-manchester.com/) a new 18-acre innovation district with the potential to create more than 10,000 jobs over the next 15 years and accelerate the translation of our R&D base.
Creative and Cultural Investment
We have invested substantially in developing our cultural venues which last year attracted more than 1.3m visitors and create vibrancy and jobs. The Whitworth Art Gallery (https://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/) and Manchester Museum (https://www.museum.manchester.ac.uk/) attract significant numbers of local visitors to the ORC and we have continued to develop the John Rylands Library (https://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/rylands/) in the city centre and the award-winning Bluedot (https://www.discoverthebluedot.com/home/) festival in Cheshire.
Connecting local residents with employment opportunities. Skills and employment levels in some of our local communities are some of the lowest in the UK. We are helping to address this through our leadership of The Works (https://www.manchester.ac.uk/connect/jobs/equality-diversity-inclusion/the-works/) – an innovative employment and training initiative in Moss Side and Ardwick.
Agile knowledge exchange and commercialisation services
Over the last three years, we have developed our Business Engagement and Knowledge Exchange (https://www.manchester.ac.uk/collaborate/business-engagement/) services to provide a comprehensive range of support services based on business need:
We hold strategic research and innovation partnerships with local SMEs, large companies and public service institutions (including Ritherdon, Unilever, Rolls Royce, AstraZeneca, and the GM Combined Authority).
We have developed Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP; https://www.manchester.ac.uk/collaborate/business-engagement/knowledge-exchange/transfer-partnerships/) to support growth and innovation with North West-based companies of all sizes.
We are partnering with GM Business Growth Hub Innovation Service (https://www.businessgrowthhub.com/innovation/services/collaboration) to help companies access our research expertise to support their development.
In 2019 we relaunched and expanded, based on a major personal donation, the Masood Enterprise Centre (https://www.alliancembs.manchester.ac.uk/study/masood-entrepreneurship-centre/) which supports staff and students entrepreneurship including high profile, sponsored venture competitions, such as Venture Further (https://www.alliancembs.manchester.ac.uk/study/masood-entrepreneurship-centre/venture-further/) and the Eli and Britt Harari Enterprise Award (https://www.alliancembs.manchester.ac.uk/study/masood-entrepreneurship-centre/eli-and-britt-harari/). In 2020, we also relaunched our dedicated intellectual property company as the UoM Innovation Factory (https://uominnovationfactory.com/).
Our ‘innovation clubs’ are a route for local SMEs to collaborate with us, including:
the Scale-Up Forum (https://www.alliancembs.manchester.ac.uk/events/scale-up-forum-launch-event/) - convening the fastest growing businesses to share experiences around growth challenges
the Manchester Law and Technology Initiative (https://www.socialsciences.manchester.ac.uk/law/research/themes/law-money-technology/law-technology-initiative-2/) - bringing together local law firms to address how technology advancement will impact on legal services
In 2020, the University was announced as the headquarters for the new £32m ESRC national Productivity Institute (https://www.alliancembs.manchester.ac.uk/research/productivity/), which will significantly enhance our research and business engagement activity around local and national productivity challenges.
Aspect 3: Results
We rank 8th in Europe in the Reuters’ 2019 Most Innovative Universities rankings. In the QS World University Rankings, we rose two places from 29th to 27th and continued to perform strongest in employer reputation.
Linking our science base to local industrial needs
We now work with over 220 industry partners on advanced materials projects that are supporting local growth, including new R&D capabilities in advanced materials for GM-based SMEs (https://democracy.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/documents/s8501/Item%2007%20Presentation%20-Bridging%20the%20Gap%20ERDFProgressReview2020pw.pdf) and positive impacts of early engagements with local industry (https://www.royce.ac.uk/impact/) via the HRI.
HinM’s Annual Report (https://healthinnovationmanchester.com/about-us/annual-reports/) showcases how our health innovation activity is meeting health and social needs in the region and beyond.
Digital Futures has delivered successful projects (http://www.digitalfutures.manchester.ac.uk/case-studies/) in support of GM’s ambitions to be a leading digital city and the Cyber Foundry case studies (https://gmcyberfoundry.ac.uk/case-studies/) illustrate how the programme is meeting digital trust and security needs for GM SMEs.
Strengthening the innovation ecosystem in the ORC
We have supported the economic impact of the ORC with an 11% increase in employment since 2015 and 61% increase in businesses since 2012 (https://oxfordroadcorridor.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Fact-Sheet-V3.0.pdf). We positively inspire local communities (https://www.manchester.ac.uk/collaborate/communities/) - our award-winning The Works (http://www.socialresponsibility.manchester.ac.uk/signature-programmes/the-works/) programme has supported over 4,000 people back into work, generating c. £60.6m of value. Our role in the ongoing creative and cultural development of the ORC is captured via Creative Manchester (https://www.creative.manchester.ac.uk/about/news/).
Knowledge exchange and commercialisation services meeting business needs
Since 2017 we have ranked second in the UK for our number of KTPs (Innovate UK ranking 2020). Our award winning (https://ktn-uk.org/news/innovations-in-manufacturing-and-materials-shortlisted-in-ktp-best-of-the-best-awards-2020/) projects are helping companies develop new funding streams, such as Kennedy's Law, (https://kennedyslaw.com/news/kennedys-takes-fraud-prevention-to-new-level-as-knowledge-transfer-partnership-reaches-end/) and our SMEs partners have also told us how our Innovation Labs (https://www.manchester.ac.uk/collaborate/business-engagement/knowledge-exchange/case-studies/manchester-innovation-labs/) and Law and Technology Initiative (https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice/firms-join-universitys-legal-tech-initiative/5067716.article) are meeting their development needs through accessing our multidisciplinary research.
In the four years to 31 July 2019, £282 million economic impact has been generated through IP Licensing and spin out activities. This will increase in coming years as the Manchester Innovation Factory doubles the number of our spin-outs annually, as achieved in 2020.
HEIF-funded activities are impacting local growth. Last year our Careers service delivered a HEIF-funding programme to source STEM skills for 549 local SMEs with the programme to be repeated, based on feedback, in 2020-21. This activity and other programmes such as Manchester Graduate Talent (https://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/findjobs/graduatejobs/mgt/) are increasing graduate retention in the city. According to research from the Centre for Cities (https://www.centreforcities.org/press/manchester-is-the-second-most-popular-city-for-new-graduates/), 40% of our students remain in Manchester after graduation, contributing to our being the top institution targeted by the largest number of top employers (https://www.highfliers.co.uk/download/2020/graduate_market/GM20Report.pdf). Our graduates tell us why they choose to stay in Manchester in our Careers Blog (https://manunicareersblog.com/).
We communicate the progress of our local growth and regeneration KPIs in research, teaching and social responsibility, via our annual Stocktake report (http://documents.manchester.ac.uk/display.aspx?DocID=48898), which also includes measures on reputation so we know what our externals stakeholders think of our performance.
Through our Policy@Manchester (https://www.policy.manchester.ac.uk/) platform we engage with a wide group of policymakers in our local areas across the full breadth of our research and local growth agenda. We also maintain the University Ardwick Partnership, (https://universityardwickpartnership.com/ which brings us together with local residents to talk about the ways we can continue to benefit our neighbouring communities.
We are working with local residents and businesses to play a lead role in responding to the pandemic and carrying out more than 100 Covid-19 related research projects (https://www.manchester.ac.uk/coronavirus-response/), which will benefit our city, region and nation.
For further information, please send queries to John.firstname.lastname@example.org
Public & Community Engagement
Summary of approach
The University of Manchester
Public engagement is how we share ideas and research; inspire discussion, debate and creativity; and involve the public in our work. It is supported by our unique institutional strategic goal of social responsibility and is embedded in our research and teaching.
We’re recognised locally, nationally and internationally for our collaborative, inclusive and reflective engagement practice and our purposeful approaches to address societal challenges - listening to and working in partnership with diverse communities.
Our activities within communities encompass patient involvement in research, volunteering, mutual partnerships, citizen science, festivals, widening participation and policy engagement. Each year 1.3m people visit our renowned cultural venues to engage with key social and environmental issues.
Aspect 1: Strategy
Our commitment to public and community engagement has been reflected in our overarching institutional strategies since 2015 and features prominently in our current strategic plan Our Future (2020-2025) (https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/vision/). Engagement is supported by our unique strategic goal of Social Responsibility (http://www.socialresponsibility.manchester.ac.uk/) which is included in every aspect of our teaching, research and wider contribution to society.
Our strategies are aligned with local civic agendas including Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Health Innovation Manchester and internationally with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Following the pandemic, we are revising our strategic approach to civic engagement to support Greater Manchester to build back better.
Our Public Engagement Strategy 2017‐2020 and Inspiring Communities Social Engagement Plan 2016-2019 (http://www.engagement.manchester.ac.uk/about/index.html) set out our vision, principles, priorities and actions for sharing, listening to and learning from the communities with which we engage. Our strategic plans were developed in consultation with staff, students and local community members and align with community needs. We worked with residents to conduct a community survey (http://documents.manchester.ac.uk/DocuInfo.aspx?DocID=46744) to listen to and understand the needs and priorities of local people. Following on from Our Future, we are developing a revised engagement strategy and civic agreement in 2021.
In 2018 we were awarded a Gold Watermark from the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) which recognises “exceptional strategic leadership of public engagement; high standards of professional support; and excellence in partnership working”. We are implementing the accompanying 3-year action plan.
Engagement is championed at the highest level from our President and Vice Chancellor and the Vice-President for Social Responsibility who has overall responsibility for engagement. The Public and Community Engagement Leadership Group, is chaired by the Academic Lead for Public Engagement, who is supported by the Public Engagement Manager, responsible for developing, coordinating and implementing strategy. They report to the Social Responsibility Governance Group which provides senior strategic leadership. Each faculty has a Vice-Dean for Social Responsibility who is responsible for engagement and are supported by dedicated social responsibility managers. This leadership approach is replicated across our schools and institutes.
Our established strategic planning process ensures engagement is cascaded through local faculty strategies, operational priorities and annual performance review processes e.g. the Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) Forum (https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/connect/social-responsibility/public-patients/) provides strategic direction and monitoring of the PPIE Action Plan.
Our annual strategic investment of ~£8m for engagement is devolved to faculties and contributes to widening participation, volunteering and teaching. It also funds strategic engagement work in our public cultural venues, which receive more than 1.3m visitors annually.
Through our strategy we have developed free public access to our facilities and services and have dedicated portals for public enquiries e.g.
community access to student volunteers
professional training for third sector leaders
legal advice via the Justice Hub.
Aspect 2: Support
Our staff, students and public partners are provided with specialised support mechanisms to undertake high-quality engagement activities, e.g.
Professional development (http://www.engagement.manchester.ac.uk/resources/links/training.html) opportunities and resources including an engagement champions scheme
Networks (http://www.engagement.manchester.ac.uk/resources/links/networks.html) bringing colleagues and external partners together to foster good practice and engagement practitioners who support colleagues at local levels
dedicated funding for key public engagement operational activities.
Our web and social media channels provide specific support for different public groups to engage with us, e.g.
public contributors can take part in a range of initiatives including research user groups (https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/connect/social-responsibility/public-patients/#public)
pupils, teachers and parents can access learning resources e.g. Science and Engineering Education Research and Innovation Hub (https://www.seerih.manchester.ac.uk/) and Children’s University (https://www.childrensuniversity.manchester.ac.uk/)
We formally involve the public in core governance roles, including our:
University Ardwick Partnership community interest company (https://universityardwickpartnership.com/) co-directed with community members
Whitworth Young Contemporaries (https://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/learn/studentsandyoungpeople/youngpeople/) programme for young people, aged 11-24
Public and Patient Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) Forum co-chaired with public contributors
Board of Governors, General Assembly, Public and Community Engagement Leadership Group, and numerous other advisory forums and ethics panels.
Engagement and social responsibility are recognised in work allocations and rewarded in our promotions and exceptional performance criteria. Student work is recognised through the Stellify (https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/experience/stellify/) award.
We recognise and celebrate the impact our staff, students, alumni and community partners are having on society through our annual Making a Difference Awards (http://www.socialresponsibility.manchester.ac.uk/get-involved/awards/) and Volunteer of the Year Awards. This is replicated across our faculties.
Aspect 3: Activity
Our ambition is to carry out meaningful engagement, working with diverse audiences to share ideas and research and inspire informed discussion, debate and creativity. We involve and work together with our community partners to meet identified needs and for mutual benefit locally, nationally and internationally. Our engagement activities are underpinned by key principles of partnership, collaboration, inclusion and reflection.
Through our strategy we have targeted investment in activities linked to our research, teaching and social responsibility goals, as highlighted in Our Engagement Stories (https://bit.ly/2Fdwzt8), e.g.
co-produced cultural spaces and events e.g. developing the North’s first South Asia Gallery (https://www.museum.manchester.ac.uk/about/thechatshow/)
Examples illustrating our practice:
The Great Science Share for Schools (https://www.greatscienceshare.org/), works alongside partners, like Siemens and Manchester City Council, to promote child-centred learning in STEM among under-represented groups. It gives pupils, teachers and parents the opportunity to ask their scientific questions to new audiences. The campaign exemplifies our commitment to increasing science capital. Our evaluation has demonstrated the difference the campaign has on children’s learning in science and pupil outcomes.
Our Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing (MICRA) was nationally recognised for its approach for involving older people as co-investigators. The work led to improving the quality of life for people as they grow older in low-income communities. Using this participatory model MICRA worked with residents from a range of diverse backgrounds in our priority neighbourhoods to develop interventions on health-related issues, promote new skills amongst older people and strengthen community social networks. The learning (http://documents.manchester.ac.uk/display.aspx?DocID=48721) supports the Greater Manchester Age-Friendly Strategy and has led to a partnership with Manchester Museum to create a new sector support agency for age and culture.
Our Global Development Institute partnered with international communities to raise awareness of the everyday impact of climate change on the lives of low-income people in Bangladesh. Together they engaged over 240,000 people with co-produced performances, films and educational programmes, e.g. The Lived Experience of Climate Change: A Story of One Piece of Land in Dhaka (https://www.gdi.manchester.ac.uk/research/impact/the-lived-experience-of-climate-change/).
From March 2020, our engagement activities pivoted to address the coronavirus pandemic, e.g. the NHS Voices of Covid-19 oral history project (https://www.nhs70.org.uk/) and the BAME COVID stories project (https://www.racearchive.org.uk/covid-19/). We have been mobilising our academic expertise to collaborate with charities, local government and local people to help inform and coordinate their work, as well as amplify the voices of our minority communities. See our Coronavirus response website (https://www.manchester.ac.uk/coronavirus-response) and lessons for recovery (https://www.policy.manchester.ac.uk/publications/lessons-from-lockdown/).
Aspect 4: Results and learning
Frameworks are used to focus evaluation activities, develop an understanding of their effectiveness and enhance our practice at all levels across the University. Our engagement is guided by actions and measures of success outlined in our institutional indicators and the action implementation plans of our engagement strategies (http://www.engagement.manchester.ac.uk/about/index.html). We also evaluate our engagement success against external frameworks such as the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings which measure the quality and scale of our impact towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (http://www.socialresponsibility.manchester.ac.uk/about/impact/sdgs/). In 2020, we were again ranked as the top higher education institution in the country for social and environmental impact.
Our evaluation programmes directly inform our strategic plans for engagement and our wider support, e.g. learning from our co-produced community survey has led to a number of cross-disciplinary initiatives to foster better links and opportunities with our key neighbours. This includes investment in an academic community liaison post, community driven clean air research projects - LOOPER (https://www.mui.manchester.ac.uk/research/projects/looper/), Brunswick Community Researchers (https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/university-joins-national-scheme-to-engage-citizens-in-science/) and the creation of the University Ardwick Partnership (https://universityardwickpartnership.com/).
Our internal evaluation approach in evidencing outcomes and impact reflect methodologies that are specific to the purpose of the engagement activity. Examples illustrating our practice:
Our annual Community Festival (http://www.socialresponsibility.manchester.ac.uk/strategic-priorities/engaging-our-communities/public-events/community-festival/) was developed in response to our community survey and our Inspiring Communities action plan. It fosters links with local neighbours to engage and share in our research, culture and facilities. Our evaluation methodology ensures that the programme of activity is shaped to meet the interests of our visitors and achieve our strategic objectives of supporting a culture of meaningful relationships with our local neighbours. To date 8,000 people have attended the Festivals, with an average of 40% coming from local targeted areas. Visitors described their experience as fun, educational and inspiring and staff and students reported they felt more connected to our communities and social responsibility principles.
As part of our widening participation strategy, our School Governors Initiative (http://www.socialresponsibility.manchester.ac.uk/signature-programmes/school-governors/) addresses the need of schools in recruiting appropriate members of the public to their governing boards. By partnering with a national charity we have placed our staff and alumni as governors in schools focussed on disadvantaged areas. This programme has been recognised nationally and internationally and is featured as a good practice example by the Russell Group (https://russellgroup.ac.uk/policy/publications/pathways-for-potential-how-universities-regulators-and-government-can-tackle-educational-inequality/ and Times Higher Education. As part of our evaluation methodology a biennial skills and experience survey explores the programme’s impact (https://youtu.be/EA8SIgoxJOg) and feeds learning into our governor network and their professional development. We now have more new governors in state schools than any other UK employer giving 12,000 days of support annually impacting on approximately 450,000 learners nationally.
Aspect 5: Acting on results
The outcomes of our engagement activities inform the continuous improvement and future development of our strategic approach and support for meaningful high-quality engagement. We do this at multiple levels across the institution to improve the impact of our engagement work. These values are reflected in our institutional strategic plan Our Future (2020-2025) (https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/vision) which demonstrates our ongoing commitment to social responsibility, civic and public engagement.
Internally we have used the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) Edge Tool to reflect on, assess and benchmark our strategic and operational support for engagement. The review informed the development of the engagement strategy and reinforced our commitment to high-quality engagement. Our NCCPE Gold Watermark award reinforces our ambition to continuously improve outcomes and impacts for our internal and external communities.
Externally we have involved and consulted with the public through our biennial institutional key stakeholder survey, local community focus groups, and a co-produced community survey to understand their needs and priorities. This approach will again inform the process for developing our new engagement strategy and civic agreement in 2021.
Our engagement work results are shared with different audiences by specific groups and networks across the University using appropriate mechanisms, e.g.
at an institutional level we publish an annual stocktake report (http://documents.manchester.ac.uk/display.aspx?DocID=48898) for key partners and our Board of Governors
at faculty level the Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) Forum monitor and reports on the PPIE Action Plan and shares progress with communities of interest (https://blogs.manchester.ac.uk/bmh-ppie/)
special interest groups such as policymakers are engaged through policy@manchester briefings, publications and impact reports https://policyatmanchester.shorthandstories.com/2019report/index.html).
We share stories on how we are making a difference with local and international audiences by working with our alumni, and utilising the key University communication and social media channels e.g. University of Manchester Magazine (https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/magazine/) and our social responsibility newsletter (http://www.socialresponsibility.manchester.ac.uk/about/social-responsibility-across-the-university/).
We also share our learning with the wider engagement community nationally and internationally through recognised organisations such as the NCCPE and American Society for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Internally we share our results with staff and students via our faculty and student communication channels and networks of practice e.g. engagement@manchester (http://www.engagement.manchester.ac.uk/)
Key events such as our Making a Difference celebrations help us to both share and reflect on our practice with our local communities and wider society.
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