HE-BCI evidence gathering survey

Closed 29 Jan 2024

Opened 29 Nov 2023


This survey is a part of HESA’s review of the Higher Education – Business and Community Interactions (HE-BCI) survey. Its purpose is to gather information about current practices for the recording and use of data about knowledge exchange (KE) and related activities. This builds on a wide range of previous work available on the website, and fits into the plans we have communicated in our September blog

The survey is organised into 5 large sections corresponding with the priority areas we have established for the HE-BCI review (plus an initial background section):

  • Commercialisation 
  • Geographic granularity
  • Social and cultural interactions
  • Equality, diversity & inclusion (EDI)
  • Staff and students as agents of knowledge exchange (KE).

The commercialisation section is further subdivided into subsections on spin-offs, start-ups, licensing and IP, disclosure and patent protection, and international comparisons. We provide background material in each section.

The information you provide will help us in both the short and longer-terms. In the short-term your answers help us understand how closely our in-development proposals for changes will fit with existing data practices. They will help us modify our design options before we consult with you, and will also help us to improve the guidance and definitions in the survey. Your insights will help us determine the options for designing HE-BCI to meet emerging policy needs in ways that better fit the operating environment. We will consult on these options in spring 2024 (planned for between February and April), once we have digested your responses. Changes and implementation timescales will be published in late spring 2024.

In the longer term your answers will provide evidence that can help all our stakeholders and ourselves to give further consideration to the information landscape across each of our priority areas. We therefore plan a summary of findings from this survey separate to the forthcoming consultation.

We have organised questions in each section into one of three possible categories:

  • Questions that will help improve definitions and data quality. These will be in the following sections: Background on HE-BCI and Knowledge Exchange (Q5), Commercialisation (Q6-15, 39-41, 60, 75-83), Geographic Granularity (Q94), Social and cultural interactions (Q106-109).
  • Questions that will help design of new data collection. These will be in the Commercialisation section (Q16-27, 42, 61, 84).
  • Questions that support wider work and potential future development of metrics in KE. These will be in the following sections: Commercialisation (Q28-37, 43-58, 62-73, 85-87, 89-92), Geographic Granularity (Q95-104), Social and cultural interactions (Q110-114), Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, and Staff and students as agents of Knowledge Exchange.

These are not hard distinctions, as some questions may help in more than one way, but we hope this helps signal the main intent in each section.

What is the timetable for this survey?

This survey opens on 29 November 2023 and closes on 29 January 2024. It will focus on gathering evidence from the sector about availability and use of data about KE. The responses will then be looked at, in conjunction with other information gathered in previous work on the review, and informed by the priorities and needs of our statutory customers, to produce detailed data specification proposals where appropriate for consideration in a forthcoming consultation in early 2024. 

Responses from the planned consultation will be considered by the review project board (comprised of our statutory customers) and Jisc to form recommendations for changes to the metrics captured by the record, along with an implementation timetable. This information will be released as soon after the planned consultation closes as possible, currently planned for late spring 2024, prior to the planned closure of the HE-BCI review.

Responses will also be useful in the longer term for wider work where short-term changes to HE-BCI would not be appropriate at present.

Who should respond to this review?

All stakeholders are welcome to respond to this survey. Since the questions are about current data collection and recording practices, we are particularly interested in receiving responses from KE and data professionals who are currently responsible for returning HE-BCI data, and/or contributing to Higher Education provider (HE provider) data on KE. We also welcome consolidated responses that take an official whole-organisation view on these issues.

The evidence you provide in response to this survey will help us develop proposals for changes to the HE-BCI survey. It will also support future consideration of data and metrics in priority areas where changes to HE-BCI are not yet appropriate. Our goal is to improve the data to support policy analysis and development, and to support our statutory customers with data that meets their policy and funding needs. We are also aware of keen interest from researchers and practitioners for better data and evidence in KE to improve understanding of the health of innovation systems.

Data processing notice

Responses to this survey will be used to support the review of the HE-BCI survey, and will be used in analysis, documentation, and communications in connection with that activity.

We may share your survey responses with statutory customers, sector bodies, or other organisations involved in this activity, which in this case also includes staff in the University Commercialisation and Innovation (UCI) policy evidence unit at the University of Cambridge. In such cases we will share your response together with the name of your organisation, however we will not disclose your name or email address to organisations we share responses with.

Please see our privacy notice for consultations (which applies to this evidence-gathering survey).


We gratefully acknowledge the support of many people who made this evidence gathering survey possible – to all our reviewers, internal and external experts, you have our thanks for your wise guidance, inspired questions, and patience. We would also like to acknowledge the contributions of our former colleague Hannah Browne, in particular. Hannah undertook much of the development work, resource discovery and relationship-building that supports this work.