Higher education institutions put different emphases on their knowledge exchange activities either focusing on research, education or combining both. Different knowledge exchange activities have different impacts, some more tangible than others. A higher education institution can monitor the number of patents and licenses, and their associated revenues as well as the numbers of spin-offs and start-ups. It is, however, more difficult to gather information about the involvement of external stakeholders in teaching and collaboration on internships and secondments, especially if these are organised and managed by faculties, departments and schools.
Areas which are easier to monitor are: the external stakeholders involved in the entrepreneurial agenda; the incentives which are offered to promote their involvement; and the impact in terms of additional financial resources, opportunities for mobility.
In case a higher education institution offers incentives and rewards for students and staff to engage in knowledge exchange activities, these should be closely monitored in terms of their impact, for example, on the number of new activities and the sharing of information across the organisation and with external partners. Another important area which requires regular monitoring and impact assessment is knowledge exchange through proximity and collaboration with incubators and science parks. Proximity per se does not generate knowledge exchange. Specific mechanisms are needed for higher education institutions to capitalise on the knowledge acquired through collaboration and exchange. Possible measurements concern:
- Levels of informal and formal networking;
- Levels of information flow between co-located higher education facilities and firms;
- Resource efficiency of financial or management involvement of higher education institutions in science parks and incubators;
- Degree of alignment of the tenant company activities with research and teaching strengths of the higher education institution;
- Levels of joint education activities;
- Intensity of R&D collaboration between the higher education institution and science park tenant firms; and
- Numbers of students and staff working in science park tenant firms.