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University of Exeter celebrates impactful partnerships at the Knowledge Exchange Awards 2022

21 October 2022

3 minutes to read

University of Exeter celebrates impactful partnerships at the Knowledge Exchange Awards 2022

‘Life-changing’ research collaborations including the first official project to reintroduce beavers into England and a report that informed the UK’s response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict were celebrated on Thursday 20 October at the University of Exeter’s inaugural Knowledge Exchange Awards.

The Knowledge Exchange Awards recognise collaborations between researchers and organisations that have made an outstanding impact on society, health and the environment.

The Awards were presented to winners in seven categories, selected from over 150 entries by a panel of industry experts that included senior staff from GlaxoSmithKline, IBM, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM), PraxisAuril and the University of Exeter.

Professor Lisa Roberts, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Exeter, said: “I am extremely proud of the meaningful, life-changing impact of our University’s research. At the University of Exeter, we understand the importance of partnership in overcoming key societal challenges and creating lasting solutions. Working with our partners and supporting businesses to drive innovation and co-create research solutions not only makes a lasting impact on the world, but helps support economic growth in the region.

“Each year, the University works with partners on more than 2,000 projects across many sectors. The Knowledge Exchange Awards demonstrate the quality and diversity of these collaborations, which are taking research into the wider world and making a positive impact for communities around the globe.”

The Awards highlighted the University’s growing reputation for world-leading research impact – which has risen by 72% since 2014 (REF2021) – with several winners showcasing the University’s impact on environmental issues. The Return of the Beaver project took home the ‘Sustainable Futures Award’ for influencing national policy on beaver reintroduction and facilitating the first officially reintroduced, free-living beaver populations in England.

The South West Partnership for Environmental and Economic Prosperity (SWEEP) received ‘Knowledge Exchange Team of the Year’ for transforming environment-led decision making with regional businesses and policymakers, with each pound invested in the project creating 20 times as much in value.

Two Awards went to projects that have made strides in creating a fairer society for all. Professor John Heathershaw was presented with the ‘Fair, Just and Inclusive Society Award’ for publishing a major report on illicit finance from the former Soviet Union and advising on the UK government’s Economic Crime Act in April 2022.

Dr Chico Camargo was awarded the ‘Early Career Research Impact Award’ for his outstanding ‘YouTube Regrets‘ collaboration with the Mozilla Foundation, which investigated the harmful and misinformative nature of YouTube recommendations.

Awards also went to collaborations with outstanding health impacts, such as Dr Leigh Jackson’s work with Covid-19 Genomics to support the UK government’s pandemic response.

Professor Chris Thornton’s spin-out company ISCA Diagnostics won the ‘Commercialisation Project of the Year’ for developing an innovative diagnostics for the life-threatening illness Invasive Pulmonary Aspergillosis (IPA).

The Awards also recognised some exceptional contributions from students, with Sarah Fairbairn and Dr Roger Auster both receiving the Bright Futures Award for Student Innovation.

Again, these projects tackled key healthcare and environmental challenges. Sarah’s Masters project used machine learning to improve the reliability of diagnostic test strips over time. Dr Roger Auster used research from his PhD to look at the human implications of reintroducing beaver populations to the UK.

The Knowledge Exchange Awards 2022 were hosted by the University’s Innovation, Impact and Business division, which works to build links between researchers and external partners – locally, nationally and globally – so that research can make a difference to the ways problems are addressed around the world.

Chris Evans, Interim Director of Innovation, Impact and Business, said: “I am delighted to see so many impressive collaborations recognised at the Knowledge Exchange Awards this year. These highlight the strength of our relationships with partners – locally, nationally and globally – which are critical in taking research into communities and making a positive impact.”

In a special final award, Sean Fielding RTTP was presented with the Knowledge Exchange Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contribution to the University’s knowledge exchange community over the past 28 years.

More information

Find all the information on nominated projects, judges and sponsors at the Knowledge Exchange Awards here.

To find out how your organisation could work with the University of Exeter, visit

Thank you to all our event sponsors, who helped make the Knowledge Exchange Awards possible.

Special thanks to Morgan Sindall Construction, the lead sponsor for the Awards. Thank you to Cornish Lithium, Frazer-Nash Consultancy, Greaves Brewster, Translational Funding, South West Water and Warwick Event Services, who sponsored individual awards.



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