Knowledge Transfer Partnerships help deliver beneficial environmental impacts
Posted on 30/04/2019
It is not just in the recent national news that sustainability and the environment are taking centre stage. The shortlist for this year’s KTP Best of the Best Awards includes two environmental projects – pioneering schemes looking to create real impact via their Knowledge Transfer Partnerships*: one providing information to planners and local authorities on Green Infrastructure; the other making innovative reuse of residue from car recycling.
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (GWT) and University of the West of England
The KTP between Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (GWT) and the University of the West of England was about developing a new commercial product, based on a whole-life integrated approach to green infrastructure planning and development.
Because of its benefits to health, climate resilience and nature conservation, green infrastructure (GI) has become a requirement in new developments. However GI guidance in one easily accessible format has never been available.
The KTP team identified the challenges and it soon became clear that demand for a solution was much greater than originally anticipated. GWT took the bold step of deciding to take the service to a different level, to establish a new Benchmark for GI, offering consistent technical information on key features, and a quality rating to incentivise and reward developers for high quality GI.
The KTP Associate, Dr Gemma Jerome, set about exhaustively collating evidence and expertise. The fruit of these endeavours was the development of the first-ever GI benchmark which GWT called “Building with Nature” (BwN). Recognised as an exemplar nationally, this market-disrupting achievement is now set to be the go-to framework for measuring the quality of natural environment planning in the UK. Such was the positive feedback it garnered, GWT also formed a subsidiary company, Building with Nature.
Thanks to the KTP, GWT has now significantly reoriented itself strategically, whereby green infrastructure has become a core part of its business and charitable objectives; and it has started to influence the wider network of Wildlife Trusts across the UK.
The partnership has also helped raise the profile of the academic team and the Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments too: Dr Sinnett was invited to the WHO Expert Panel on green space interventions and health, and contributed to the NHS Healthy New Towns programme, winning the Royal Town Planning Institute Research Excellence Award – Sir Peter Hall Award for Wider Engagement in 2018.
The KTP has propelled the Associate onto the centre stage in the environmental planning sector too – a testament to the opportunities that the Partnership has brought into scope: RTPI (Royal Town Planning Institute) Research Award; invitation to participate in International Women’s Day; to Chair the Panel for the British Standards Institute Net Gain Biodiversity Standards; to sit on the Advisory Group for the Natural England Green Infrastructure Standards Project, and to join prominent industry specialists at a Government Roundtable hosted by Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
This partnership is one of three Finalists in the Best Knowledge Transfer Partnership at the KTP Best of the Best Awards 2019.
Recycling Lives and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan)
A Knowledge Transfer Partnership between Preston-based recycling and waste management company, Recycling Lives, and experts at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has produced some exceptional outcomes too: described as a ‘game changer’ for car recycling, it has also enabled potential savings of £1.5 million a year, enable electricity generation electricity, been named Most Innovative Contribution to Business-University Collaboration at the prestigious Times Higher Education Awards; and is now also a Finalist in the Business Impact category of the KTP Best of the Best Awards.
A two-year study, led by Dr Ala Khodier and his team working with Recycling Lives and UCLan, set out to try to reuse the estimated 1.2 million tonnes of residue left over every year after the company shreds around 100,000 vehicles at the end of their lives, diverting it from landfill.
At the end of the study period, the team then created a process to transform the residue, made up of foams, rubber, fibres and textiles, into electrical energy. The team also managed to identify metals in the residue that could be extracted and returned to the market.
As a result, it’s estimated that Recycling Lives, which uses its recycling activity to support its own projects on prisoner rehabilitation and homelessness, can generate 1,200 megawatts of electricity and make savings of £1.5 million a year.
UCLan and Recycling Lives are now entering into a joint venture that will see their partnership building and owning a £540,000 research facility to commercialise the project.
Chemical engineer Dr Ala Khodier, KTP Associate, said: “I am incredibly honoured that our work has been recognised at such a high level. These findings are the result of a perfect partnership between Recycling Lives and UCLan, exploring how we can achieve best in class recycling processes.”
Dr. Andrew Kenney – the Knowledge Transfer Adviser at the Knowledge Transfer Network who put the partnership together – added “This has been an outstanding KTP with strong outcomes for all concerned. The continuing collaboration and investment is particularly pleasing. I am delighted to have been involved.”
About Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
*Right now 810 organisations are involved in KTP projects with over 100 Universities and 850 Associates. The programme has been helping businesses innovate for growth for over 40 years and – through the role of the Associate – is one of the UK’s biggest graduate recruitment programmes.
Organisations of any size and in any sector can apply to take part in a KTP and applications are open all year round. Find out more here.
KTP aims to help businesses improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills held within the UK knowledge base. The Knowledge Transfer Network delivers the KTP programme for Innovate UK, funded by UK Research and Innovation as part of the government’s Industrial Strategy.
Winners of the KTP Best of the Best Awards 2019 will be announced at a special ceremony on Thursday 2nd May 2019.