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ICR among country’s top universities in first Knowledge Exchange Framework

Dr Grace Mak- Senior Scientific Officer - with Maddie

The Institute of Cancer Research, London, has ranked highly in the UK’s first Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), a new Government assessment of universities’ partnerships and their influence on wider society.

We were in the top 10 per cent of all higher education institutions in England – the top score available – in four of the seven categories assessed: ‘Working with business’, ‘IP and commercialisation’, ‘Research partnerships’ and ‘Public and community engagement’.

We were one of only four higher education institutions, alongside Imperial College London and the Universities of Oxford and Sheffield, to place in the top 10 per cent in four of the categories, with none scoring top in five or more.


The Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) is a new measurement, overseen by Research England, of the wide range of activities that higher education institutions in England undertake for the benefit of the economy and society, both locally and nationally.

These include partnerships with businesses, running public events and commercialising research discoveries.

Our scores in the 'Working with business',' IP and commercialisation', and 'Research partnerships' categories reflect our excellence in translating our research discoveries into benefits for cancer patients, while our top score in the ‘Public and community engagement’ category reflects our commitment to sharing our research with the public.

Collaboration highlights

Highlights of our commercialisation and partnership work include the discovery and development of prostate cancer drug abiraterone, the development of PARP inhibitor drugs including olaparib, and the development of real-time guided radiotherapy treatment with the MR-Linac.

Our ongoing collaborations include a strategic alliance with AstraZeneca – under which several projects are running including some of our joint Medical Research Council iCase studentships – and with Merck KGaA, which is looking at three separate promising targets for new possible cancer drugs.

Specific highlights of the past year include new agreements with pharmaceutical company Roche to explore mechanisms of resistance to its therapeutic antibody cibisatamab, and a clinical trial of a promising new drug targeting the effects of the KRAS gene, which has been notoriously difficult to target.

Company Monte Rosa Therapeutics – originally a spin-out from research at the ICR – also launched publicly last year, following a collaboration with researchers here which developed a new library of potential anti-cancer compounds.

Read our blog on the big issues around research translation and commercialisation, from our sector-leading technology transfer office.

Read the blog

Public engagement

The ICR is also committed to engaging with members of the public, especially in our local communities in Sutton and Chelsea, and to engaging with schools to encourage future diversity in science.

In the three years up to 2020-21, we took part in more than 260 public events, reaching more than 26,000 members of the public, and our staff and students contributed some 2,000 hours of their time to public engagement activities.

We have also developed in-house public engagement training for all staff and students and continued to work with local partners to facilitate meaningful engagement with our local community.

Our new three-year public engagement strategy places a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusivity and was developed in conjunction with the ICR’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff forum.

Knowledge exchange

Dr Angela Kukula, our Director of Business and Innovation said:

“We are delighted to have scored so highly in the first Knowledge Exchange Framework, which enables higher education institutions across England to share, compare and celebrate our rich, diverse and varied contributions to society.

“The fact we gained the top mark in four out of the seven categories, and particularly in measures of business engagement and partnership, is a reflection of our excellence in the translation of our research into patient benefit – which is our ultimate aim. It’s also pleasing to see recognition of our expanding public and community engagement work.”

Find out more

The KEF’s interactive dashboards show the results for each institution taking part and explanations behind the metrics used to assess performance for each category. It is also possible to compare institutions.


Angela Kukula public engagement intellectual property commercialisation kef knowledge exchange framework
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