Priority one: Impact

We will continue to grow and strengthen our impact, knowledge exchange and innovation activity.

Mannequin wearing the heads up collar developed by Sheffield researchers to help Motor Neurone Disease patients.

How we define excellent impact

At Sheffield we define excellent impact as the lasting, significant and positive change we make in the world through our research, education and innovation:

  • Excellent impact occurs when collective knowledge contributes directly to positive changes made by external individuals, communities, policymakers or organisations. The changes may result in benefits to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life in any location, but must be demonstrated beyond academia.
  • Our impact is derived both from our curiosity and from responding to current and future societal challenges through the continuous delivery of excellent research, education and innovation.
  • We champion and value the diversity of impact that occurs between individuals and teams and across disciplines. We understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating impact, and that partners, activities, locations, timescales and outputs can vary.
  • We recognise that impact is rarely immediate. Sustained activity and support is required to evidence the value of our work to external stakeholders.

It is also important to distinguish between impact and other related activities, specifically knowledge exchange and dissemination:

  • Knowledge exchange is the process of building two-way relationships with non-academic partners from the public, private, and third sectors, and the community.
  • Knowledge exchange is a vehicle for impact. Impact through knowledge exchange only occurs when resulting changes or benefits are taken up and experienced by our non-academic collaborators.
  • Dissemination is an active and planned approach to sharing findings with target audiences via determined channels. For example, findings could be shared through peer-reviewed papers, meetings, the media (including news sites, TV and radio), social media, blogs, podcasts, monographs, websites, newsletters, groups and webinars.
  • Like knowledge exchange, dissemination is often an essential activity for maximising impact. However, demonstrable change must occur as a result of the dissemination activity for it to be defined as impact.

Thank you to all of our staff and students who contributed to developing this definition of excellent impact.

To achieve excellent impact we will:

  • Ensure that knowledge exchange and impact are embedded as a core mission of the University, alongside research and education.
  • Develop a portfolio of high-quality impact activity in every department that spans their disciplinary strengths and their academic staff groups. 
  • Maintain a sustainable pipeline of high-quality impact activities that prioritise our knowledge exchange activities and demonstrate the value of the University to society.
  • Establish and support a University-wide flexible knowledge exchange and impact support system, ensuring that we have clear access points, engagement mechanisms and policies developed to suit the needs of a wide range of internal and external stakeholders.
  • Develop and enhance our translational mechanisms to support potential start-ups and licensing opportunities, such as Northern Gritstone (in conjunction with the University of Leeds and the University of Manchester) and our Intellectual Property Development and Commercialisation Fund. We will be driven by an ethos that our intellectual property is used for the benefit of society.
  • Grow collaboration with partners from beyond the University, such as with industry and NGOs, to drive high-quality research, education, knowledge exchange and income generation.

Our vision

We are the University of Sheffield. And this is our vision.