If your research is to make an impact, you need to invest time, skills and effort in effective knowledge exchange. Delivering impacts from research is increasingly important in grant applications and in assessments of research excellence (eg the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in the UK and Germany’s Research Rating (Forschungsrating) system). Building capacity for impact has never been more important, and can pay dividends in both funding and reputation. We run the only course on research impact that is run by academics for academics, and based on the latest research evidence.

Our training courses are designed to inspire and equip researchers with the skills and confidence they need to deliver impact. The course is designed around five principles derived from primary research we conducted with researchers, users of research and knowledge exchange experts. 

At the core of what we do is providing people with practical tools they can use to identify and develop long-term, two-way, trusting relationships with people who can translate their research into real world impacts. To do this, we provide a safe space for participants to discuss and learn from each other’s experiences. Our training provides people with practical skills that they can immediately implement in their research. There are opportunities to try out many techniques during the course, and our 100 page training manual (available exclusively to participants) is a valuable source of additional ideas, guidance and examples of good practice.

Mark Reed is a Professor of Interdisciplinary Environmental Research at Birmingham City University and Research Manager for an international charity, and Dr Ana Attlee is a practising researcher, regularly publishing journal papers while running a third sector organisation and being CEO of a rapidly growing business. They are recognised international experts in knowledge exchange research with more than 100 publications.

Prof Reed led the REF submission for his school in 2014 and is leading the REF2020 submission while developing impact tracking methods for his University and performing impact evaluations for others (eg a recent evaluation commissioned by Scottish Government to assess the impact of research by their Main Research Providers).

Based on our research, we helped lead the development of Knowledge Exchange Guidelines for the Living with Environmental Change partnership (the UK’s largest funder of environmental research) and have helped develop a Stakeholder Engagement Toolkit for a major EU funding programme. We were invited to present our research to staff from across RCUK at a lunchtime seminar in 2013 and are regularly invited as plenary speakers at national and international conferences and workshops to talk about our research on knowledge exchange and impact. 

We are also regularly engaged with policy, business and third sector organisations across the UK and internationally, including UK Government and each of the devolved administrations and their agencies, and organisations within the United Nations. We are both are environmental social scientists who are used to collaborating with natural, physical and social scientists as well as arts and humanities scholars. So we are comfortable working with researchers from all backgrounds and regularly train people from disciplines as diverse as medicine, philosophy, engineering and languages.

Since launching in 2013, we have trained researchers and managers of research from:

  • University of Maastrict (the Netherlands)
  • ETH Zurich (Switzerland)
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Newcastle
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of Stirling
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Hull
  • University of Portsmouth
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Lancaster
  • University of Manchester
  • University of East Anglia
  • University of Reading
  • Kings College London
  • University of the Highlands and Islands
  • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
  • Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
  • Science & Technology Funding Council (STFC)
  • British Geological Survey
  • British Ecological Society
  • Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • UK Climate Impacts Programme
  • National Oceanography Centre
  • Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS)
  • Scottish Government
  • James Hutton Institute
  • Moredun Research Institute
  • Scotland’s Rural College
  • Natural England
  • Department for Environment & Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
  • Permaculture Association

Indicative Programme

We take time working with you in advance of an event to tailor our training to the specific needs of your researchers and institution. We can also run full-day courses on particular aspects eg social media for research impact and developing a knowledge exchange strategy. We are also happy to work with you to develop your own in-house training based on the principles we teach. This is an example of a typical programme:

1 Introduction: Five ways your research can make a bigger impact (based on the latest research) – presentation, video and discussion

2 Learning from each other: what works? Case study and small group discussion

3 Introduction to developing Pathways to Impact, a Knowledge Exchange Strategy and a REF impact case study: Training and two exercises to give you practical skills for identifying and working effectively with the likely users of your research, showing how you can turn your pre-award Pathways to Impact into a Knowledge Exchange Strategy for your PhD, research project or group, and how this might then translate into a powerful case study that can showcase your impact (eg for submission to research assessments)

4 In-depth sessions (participants choose from two out of four options):

  • Social media for research impact
  • Designing and facilitating events with the likely users of your research
  • Working with policy-makers

Get more information about in-depth sessions.

Costs and booking

All our training is done on a not-for-profit basis through social enterprise Project Maya. All fees and any profits are used to buy nature reserves via Project Maya or to fund research expenses for PhD students investigating knowledge exchange in our research group at Birmingham City University. Prices vary with group size. Please contact us to discuss your needs.

Lead trainers

Prof Mark Reed is an interdisciplinary researcher specialising in knowledge exchange, stakeholder participation and the value of nature. He obtained his PhD from the University of Leeds, where he was a Senior Lecturer before becoming Director of the Aberdeen Centre for Environmental Sustainability at the University of Aberdeen. He is now a professor at Birmingham City University, where he led the REF submission for his School. He has over 100 publications (more than 60 in peer-reviewed international journals). His work has been covered by the Guardian, Radio 4, Radio Scotland and international media, and he has led research projects worth over £10m. He has designed and led  more than 50 workshops with end users of research in the UK and internationally, and has developed training in knowledge exchange and participatory methods for the UN Environment Programme, DEFRA, Scottish Government, the British Ecological Society and a range of UK Universities. Find out more about Mark Reed's work or follow him on Twitter @lecmsr

Dr Ana Attlee is co-founder and director of international eco enterprise Project Maya. Ana’s background is in sustainability and conservation she is passionate about social media and permaculture. Ana is an interdisciplinary researcher/campaigner/entrepreneur. Academically she continues to work with the Sustainable Learning project on Knowledge Exchange publishes research on environmental sustainability and behaviour change. She recently launched ‘Seedball’ as an innovative way to raise funds for Maya’s innovative nature reserve network, she has been involved in using social media for crowd funding projects (raising funds for meadows outside tube stations in London) and campaigning (for road verges to become wild flower reserves), her most recent campaign (the Peat Free Pledge) has been supported by significant organisations (eg Friends of the Earth) and individuals (eg Vivienne Westwood). Before founding Project Maya, Ana worked as a lecturer, post-doctoral researcher and conference organiser and has acted as an advisor on social media strategy to a number of academic institutions and charities. Find out more about Ana Attlee's work or follow her on Twitter @AnaAtlee.

Additional trainers

Rosmarie Katrin Neumann has more then 10 years of interdisciplinary expertise, split between research and practice. She trained as a Landscape Ecologist and studied in Germany, Iceland and New Zealand. During this time, she worked with New Zealand NGOs, landowners, policy makers, law enforcement agents, national media and researchers to initiate the first Jewelled Gecko Recovery Programme. In 2011 she became a knowledge broker at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig, Germany. There, she worked for the German Science-Policy Interface that connects biodiversity researchers with national, European and international policies and policy makers, and collaborated with a range of other international science-policy interfaces within the EU and internationally. She has recently co-authored a Science paper about the failures of science-policy dialogue in relation to EU agricultural policy. Rosi is currently enrolled as PhD student at Birmingham City University, researching how scientific knowledge influences policy decision-making. Find out more about Rosmarie Katrin Neumann's work.

Saskia Walcott is a communications consultant, writer and trainer who specialises in working with researchers and institutions in the higher education sector. Saskia was head of communications and public engagement at the Economic and Social Research Council from 2003 to 2010, and set up Walcott Communications in November 2010. Walcott Communications offers a variety of individually tailored services that include reviewing and developing integrated impact strategies, impact and communication training workshops, advising on REF impact case studies, and producing plain English research summaries and policy documents. Walcott Communications works directly with universities in England, Scotland and Wales and with the Research Councils and membership organisations such as ARMA. Find out more about Saskia Walcott's work or follow her on Twitter @saskiawalcott73