Kingston University’s new Pro Vice-Chancellor to lead knowledge exchange and innovation

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 University College London (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-19 pandemic, he spearheaded a project that secured £1.4million 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 UK 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. He added: “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.

University Provost Professor Helen Laville said: “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.”