How our innovation and research is managed

At Derby, excellent innovation and research is at the heart of what we do. It informs our learning and teaching, helps to improve the lives of those within our communities, and positively impacts the wider society both nationally and internationally.

But how is innovation and research led and managed within our University?

At Derby, we have strong leadership for innovation and research and clear strategic priorities, which focus on creating impact. Our University Innovation and Research Committee and University Professorial Council help set the strategy and ensure researchers have a voice within the University's highest decision-making structures. Delivering on that strategy and ensuring there is a supportive research environment is the job of the University Research and Knowledge Exchange Office, which acts as the main point of contact for both staff and student researchers. 

Professor Warren Manning, Provost Innovation and Research, shares the importance of research and explains what URKEO do.

View Research at the University of Derby video transcript

Leading research at Derby

Through Professor Warren Manning, Provost Innovation and Research, innovation and research has a voice at the highest level of decision-making within the University: the Executive Board. Warren also chairs the University Innovation and Research Committee (UIRC).

Alongside Warren, Dr Amanda Baxendale, our Head of Research and Innovation Services, works with companies to help them develop collaborative relationships with the University.

Our strategic priorities 2020-2026

Our innovation and research strategic priorities set our future direction of travel and are underpinned by our values as an applied university. Our six current priorities are as follows:

Expanding our capability and capacity to create knowledge and deliver innovation.

We invest in talent because we are future-focused and a University of both today and tomorrow. We know that by investing in talent, our students and staff are able to better support the needs of our stakeholders.

One way we have done this is by securing Sustaining University Research Expertise (SURE) funding, which we have used to create 12 doctoral studentships, recruit over 20 Early Career Academics (ECAs), and set up a competitive impact accelerator fund.

Advancing our knowledge, through our public, private and third sector partners, to enable innovation and create impact.

We've co-invested our own resources to deliver an ambitious programme of business support. Our funded local growth programmes have enabled us to introduce SMEs to collaborative research and innovation, enabling them to build their capacity in support of the Government's plan for growth to increase business research and development spending.  

We work actively with regional partners, such as D2N2, the Midlands Engine partnership, the Midlands Enterprise Universities group, and Derbyshire Economic Partnership.

Working with local partners and stakeholders to tackle cultural, social, environmental and economic challenges.

The heart of our strategy is to positively impact local communities and people within our region and beyond. We want to tackle cultural, social, environmental and economic challenges through public and community-engaged research, innovation and knowledge exchange. An example of this is our partnership with Derbyshire County Council, to deliver a £2 million grant fund known as the Green Entrepreneurs Programme.

Enabling our students to engage in impact-driven research and knowledge exchange.

We are passionate about ensuring that our innovation and research activities reach into the curriculum and open doors and spark enthusiasm. For example, our Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme gives all second-year students the chance to take part in a funded and supported research project. To date over 300 students have benefited from the scheme, producing over 200 projects.

Creating an ecosystem for the University and its partners to commercialise ideas.

We work closely with key partners and stakeholders — including the City Council and D2N2 — to establish a culture of entrepreneurship which includes support that nurtures new business ideas, whilst delivering solutions that encourage growth and productivity. We also recognise the positive and lasting contribution we can make to the city and have ambitious plans to deliver a new Business School, as well as to invest further in the Enterprise Centre to support the development of new and early-stage businesses.

Improve performance, efficiency and effectiveness of processes and management of risk.

Our University Research and Knowledge Exchange Office (URKEO) embeds a vibrant and dynamic research and knowledge exchange culture through its lead on governance, researcher development, impact, supporting successful research finding and knowledge exchange, commercialisation opportunities and more.

For more information about our Innovation and Research Strategic Priorities, please email

Making research happen

The University Research and Knowledge Exchange Office (URKEO) is responsible for the day-to-day business of innovation, research and knowledge exchange at the University of Derby. They support our staff and student researchers in a variety of ways, from developing and submitting research proposals and funding applications, to managing the Researcher Development Programme.

Knowledge exchange goes hand-in-hand with research as it is the translation of our research into sectors, industries and the wider society and means we have a real-world impact. We apply our research knowledge to support the sectors that drive national economic growth and support effective policy-making and governance, whether it’s through funded support, research commissions or specialist equipment and expertise.

Our Knowledge Transfer Partnerships offer businesses the opportunity to tap into our research to develop and explore innovative solutions to increase their competitive advantage. We also offer funding and support programmes in relation to knowledge exchange in order to allow businesses to benefit the most from our research.

We are also one of nine universities that are included in the East Midlands Doctoral Network (EMDoc). EMDoc facilitates information sharing, promotes good practice and encourages engagement in projects that support the development of researchers from Postgraduate (PGR) to Professorial level. We benefit as it provides insights into and benchmarking across the sector. Furthermore, it enables collaborations allowing our research to expand and progress.

The link between EMDoc and the University helps to:

Technician working on equipment

Academic themes

To develop the most innovative solutions to real-world problems, we collaborate across six academic themes. Aligned to some of the local and global challenges we face, our interdisciplinary approach brings our experts together to deliver the greatest impact.

Explore our six academic themesExplore our six academic themes

University Professorial Council

We have a University Professorial Council, which provides strategic support to the University Innovation Research Committee. The Council helps to develop and implement policy and practice that aims to enhance research and innovation quality, intensity, and the environment. The Professorial Council played a key role in developing the Innovation and Research Strategy 2020 - 2026. 

The Council is made up of professors, associate professors and early-career researchers from across the University and is led by Professor Paul Lynch, Chair of the University Professorial Council and Head of Governance.

Creating impact

We have an Impact Officer Team, led by Dr Larissa Allwork, Associate Professor in History and Impact, which is based in URKEO. Each Impact Officer supports a college and aims to get the most impact out of their research. They help drive research and impact forwards following our submission to the Research Excellence Framework in 2021, as well as providing training and resources to support the understanding of impact.

The team also helps academics to plan their impact, develop and deliver engagement projects and work with partners, capture robust evidence, track progress on impact, evaluate outcomes and benefits, and ensure research impact is shared.

In recognition of our excellence in supporting impact through research-informed public engagement, the University of Derby was awarded a Bronze National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) Watermark Award in 2022. 

Our impact officers are:

Dr Larissa Allwork is Associate Professor in History and Impact. She leads the Derby Impact, Collaboration and Engagement Network (DICE). She has worked extensively on the Higher Education impact and public engagement agendas. At Derby, she co-ordinated the impact submission for the Research Excellence Framework 2021 (REF 2021); wrote the public and community engagement statement for the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) and is co-leading the University’s NCCPE Watermark submission.

She also engages with the public as a twentieth-century historian of war, conflict and genocide. She is a member of the Derby Holocaust Memorial Day Working Group; an Honorary Associate Fellow of the University of Leicester’s Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and a member of the Steering and Skills Group of the Imperial War Museum's Second World War and Holocaust Partnership Programme.

You can contact her by email at

Dr Claire Sedgwick is an Impact Officer for the College of Health, Psychology and Social Care. She provides support for researchers across the College, enabling them to engage with external audiences through public engagement, engagement with policymakers and engagement with industry.

In 2020, her first monograph was published — Feminist Media: From the Second Wave to the Digital Age. Her current research focuses on the creative industries and she is completing a project on the Cultural Economy of Comedy in the East Midlands. The project is funded by a BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grant. She has shared her work at public engagement events at Leicester Comedy Festival and the Levy Fringe.

You can contact her by email at

Dr Lenore Thompson is an Impact Officer for the College of Arts, Humanities and Education, supporting researchers and communities with resources and training on impact. As a professional archaeologist and community heritage consultant, Lenore has a broad range of experience co-creating and conducting projects designed to connect people with their shared past and promote social cohesion.

Her research interests relate to culture contact, colonialism, and the societal impacts and ramifications of these experiences. She also studies the physical properties of human material culture, investigating how people make things and how things make people. Lenore is a member of the Register of Professional Archaeologists and the Society of Post-Medieval Archaeology (SPMA).

You can contact her by email at

Funding your research project

Understanding and navigating research funding can be overwhelming, particularly when there are a range of funders, funding types and opportunities available. Within the University Research and Knowledge Exchange Office, we have a dedicated team who can support you in finding research funding. They will guide you through the types of funders including Government funding, UK-based charities, trusts and foundations, and international funders, as well as exploring the funding that is available through networking grants, project grants, research fellowships and Knowledge Transfer Partnership tender and evaluation.

Throughout the process of applying for external funding, researchers and professional services teams are supported by our digital system; Haplo Research Manager. Streamlining and digitising the process, the Research Manager will support with: 

For guidance on how to use Research Manager, visit our information pages (login required)

For guidance or information on funding, contact our support team at