Positive transformation celebrated in collaborations between academia and business via the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships programme
Posted on 02/05/2019
Although the programme has been running for over 40 years, and over 800 UK companies are currently actively involved in the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) programme, there are still many UK businesses unaware of how transformational it can be.
Not so the finalists in this year’s KTP Best of the Best Awards, which celebrate some of the most exceptional business outcomes of KTPs.
BemroseBooth Paragon (BBP) is one of the finalists in the Business Impact category. The company, which produces tickets, wanted to develop new technologies to allow improved processes together with novel security features; and also to internalize out-sourced manufacturing. Knowledge Transfer Adviser (KTA), Dr Trevor Gregory, set up their KTP with specialists at the University of Hull, and recruited Associate Haydn Ward. Via the KTP, the company received the knowledge to develop magnetic ink formulations suitable for ticketing purposes, and developed the manufacturing plant and protocols for volume magnetic ink production.
Through this work, BBP developed the confidence to sell the ink and printed goods. Now products manufactured through this partnership are now available in four continents (Europe, Africa and North and South America). Paragon Group has become the largest producer of magnetic tickets for mass transit, car parks, toll and financial institutions; and BBP has transitioned from being a traditional printing company to a chemical company, and now a technology company, leading in the use of contactless ticketing.
In the field of nutritional supplements, KTP has also played a transformative role. KTA John Clayton worked on a collaboration between Principle Healthcare (PH) and the University of Bradford (UoB) where Associate Dr Suyog Aherto developed in-house granulation technology to replace imported pre-granulated materials. Research into materials, regulations and processes was carried out, and the changes, risks and costs related to granulation were also investigated. PH then invested in a High Shear Granulation (HSG) facility as a direct consequence of the KTP project.
Buying powder raw materials to convert into granulated products, rather than purchasing pre-granulated product, provided PH access to a wider range of UK suppliers. The manufacturing facility has brought the capacity to compete in new product categories and new markets, has led to cost-saving import-substitution, improved manufacturing process, improved capacity and an increase in international export – so significant commercial gains have been achieved. In addition, PH in association with UofH has developed new patented technology and the KTP has also inspired a new culture of open innovation, idea generation, and cross-disciplinary working.
That multi impact outcome is something that all KTPs are designed to deliver, bringing positive benefit to each of the three partners in the collaboration: the company, the Knowledge Base and the Associate.
This is certainly evidenced by the KTP undertaken by specialist footwear manufacturer, Toffeln, who saw a KTP as the right mechanism to help them develop an applied research function for creating world-class footwear for demanding environments.
Working with the team at University of Salford and KT Adviser Andy Treen, this partnership transformed the role of research and development in a small but highly aspirational UK footwear company, resulting in a new footwear brand and company (WearerTech). The partnership also attracted external investment and new senior management and an applied research function was created to push product design into innovative areas. As a result the brand has become a beacon of science in specialist footwear for demanding work environments sector.
A new product concept was developed and has now been launched, six academic papers have been produced, the Associate now leads research at WearerTech, and a second KTP between the company and University has already started.
For Toffeln (WearerTech) the KTP has been transformational for the business at strategic, research and product levels, permeating all aspects of the business.
About Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) are three way partnerships between a UK organization of any size, in any sector; an expert academic team; and a suitably qualified graduate. They are designed to deliver a specific, strategic innovation project, and should benefit all three parties.
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.
Further information about KTPs is here and applications for funding are open all year round.