Knowledge Transfer Partnership transforms modest standpipe in to highly sophisticated, market leading device
Posted on 02/08/2019
A recently completed “outstanding” Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) – a programme linking UK businesses with the UK’s world-class academic and research expertise – has delivered unprecedented financial benefits and achieved positive business transformation for specialist engineering company, Aquacheck Engineering Ltd. The academic team at Manchester Met University (MMU), who were linked via the KTP, put together with the support of KT Adviser (KTA) Dr Trevor Gregory, has also benefited from their first experience of involvement in a commercially-focused project based on their expert knowledge.
The KTP project, managed by KTP Associate Dario Chiantello, was designed to develop an Advanced Metering Infrastructure – a smart mobile water metering device, with transient surge monitoring and reflective billing capability – to meet market demands. The project focus was the transformation of a reasonably low-tech piece of equipment (a water standpipe) into a smart device which will have substantial commercial and environmental impacts for the sector. The technology developed through the KTP is complex, and has the potential for further enhancements in the future. Aquacheck’s MD, Paul Carrington, acknowledges the tremendous value in now being regarded by the Water Utilities sector as the go-to company for product innovation.
He states that the impact on the company from the KTP is “quite incredible” and is “hoping to capture 80% of the UK Water Utility industry with the new product (from the KTP), which has also opened up export markets we were not aware of prior to KTP”.
Other impacts of the KTP include:
- Net profit growth from 26% to 32% and increasing year on year
- Turnover increased from £1.4m to £2.8m since the start of the KTP, and is predicted to be £3.4m at the end of this year (i.e. 4 years after the start of the KTP)
- Recent valuation of the company shows a 10-fold increase since the start of the KTP
- Staff increased from 19 to 24
- Won 10 year contract for product and services from a leading UK water supplier
- Won ‘Supplier of the Year’ with a FTSE100 company
- KTP Associate is now Head of R&D (completely new post)
Although not really ‘geared up’ to host the KTP project and operating within a tight budget, the company was able to extract significant value from the KTP experience and as a consequence, has been transformed. Fundamentally, the company has developed from being a basic engineering business in to a R&D focused business.
KTPs are very much about partnership and are designed to deliver benefits to all three partners involved, not just during the project lifecycle but also for the long-lasting impacts they can deliver. Here, the company-university relationship is very strong and growing stronger. Together, they have developed a technology roadmap to determine which new products and underpinning technologies will be needed for the water utility sector in the future. Other academics have been drawn into the relationship in completely different disciplines, and the company is hoping to manage its growth through the use of lean approaches, and that the university (and hopefully Innovate UK) will be heavily involved in that. The KTP Associate has also thrived as a result of the KTP, and is now leading R&D at the company with further opportunities ahead as the company looks to potentially expand in to Italy.
Carrington added that “the KTA, Trevor Gregory….was outstanding. His knowledge and guidance throughout this 3-year project has been very valuable. I feel without this guidance the outcome we achieved would have been impossible. We would like to express our gratitude to Dr Trevor Gregory for his excellent work commitment and dedication over the three years of this project”.
In summary, this is an outstanding example of the transformative impact of KTP collaborations.
KTPs are designed to help businesses innovate for growth and are a three-way partnership between a UK business or not for profit organisation, one of the UK’s world-class universities/research organisations and a suitably qualified graduate (KTP Associate). Every partnership enjoys the specialist input of a Knowledge Transfer Adviser, and each KTP should benefit all three partners.
KTPs have been helping UK businesses realise strategic innovation projects for over 40 years. KTPs are delivered by the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) and funded by UK Research and Innovation through Innovate UK as part of the government’s Industrial Strategy. Available to organisations in any sector, and of any size, KTPs can last anything from 12-36 months, and applications can be made at any time throughout the year. For more information visit.
How to apply for a KTP
In the first instance find and contact your nearest Knowledge Transfer Adviser here. They are based all over the country and will help you every step of the way.
Dates and deadlines
The KTP programme is run continuously throughout the year. Applications for 2019/20 are invited within the following dates:
Open date: 25 July 19 – Close date: 02 October 2019
Open date: 03 October – Close date: 11 December 2019
Open date: 12 December 2019 – Close date: 05 February 2020