Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation: The Challenges and Opportunities


Published 28th June 23

By Peter Wilkins, Innovation Scout at Ploughshare

PraxisAuril is the UK’s national professional association for Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation practitioners. Earlier this month, over 400 delegates met for the 2023 PraxisAuril Conference. Over 130 organisations were represented, including over 80 universities.

I attended last year’s conference when I was working for the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), to raise awareness of DASA’s funding opportunities. This time, I was on a mission to steal ideas. My theory was that the challenges faced by Ploughshare (MOD’s technology transfer and commercialisation company) might be the same as those faced by many universities as they commercialise the IP generated across their large (and sometimes fragmented?) organisations.

Many of the delegates spoke about the challenges of raising awareness of the commercialisation opportunities with colleagues, the difficulties of sharing ideas across departments and between organisations to create value, and the work required to create the strong and trusted relationships needed. These are all relevant to Ploughshare too. Even within Dstl, the source of most of the ideas that we get involved with, there are 5000+ staff across multiple departments and teams.

But if the challenges are similar, so are the opportunities. Creating partnerships with external organisations and sharing intellectual property can create new pathways to turn those ideas into real-world impact and create economic growth – there were many examples of this during the conference. We also discussed how to build capacity for effective knowledge exchange and how to create and enhance knowledge exchange skills.

So yes – the challenges are similar. I think there is a lot that we in Ploughshare might learn from the academic sector.

It was also great to catch up with colleagues I’d worked with in my DASA days, and to meet loads of people who had worked with some of my Ploughshare colleagues in the past – it seems that Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation is a small (but very friendly) world! Thanks to the PraxisAuril team and all the speakers for a thought-provoking and encouraging event.