Two recent KTPs led by researchers in the NTU School of Science & Technology have been awarded the highest levels attainable by Innovate UK.
Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) connect research expertise in universities with innovative business ideas. Established in 1975, they are a world-leading mechanism that enable businesses, graduates and academics to make a positive impact, to apply research to real world business challenges, and to lead change through innovation.
At NTU they have a long history of delivering highly successful KTP projects to businesses, helping them to innovate and grow. KTPs represent excellent research opportunities for researchers across the full breadth of our research landscape, providing the valuable experience of working in live environments, while concurrently feeding back into teaching.
When the business partners at NTU have a core strategic need or an innovative idea, but are lacking in expertise and technology, a KTP is an excellent vehicle for making it happen, providing a valuable framework to ensure that the new knowledge gained from the project is subsequently embedded into the organisation.
Exemplifying NTU’s strength in this area, two recent KTPs led by researchers in the School of Science & Technology have been awarded ‘Outstanding’ and ‘Very Good’ – the highest levels attainable by Innovate UK’s Grading Panel when assessing how far each project met the KTP objectives.
Dr Dave Fairhurst led a KTP with Cole-Parmer Limited, a global manufacturer of products for handling and measuring fluids. The project aimed to develop a unique laboratory instrument capable of heating, stirring and measuring viscosity at a fraction of the cost of traditional products. The positive experience and outcome of working with NTU on this KTP was summarised by Cole-Parmer Limited contact Neil Pomeroy: “My expectations were that we would have a productive new engineer with strong theoretical knowledge, coupled with good interpersonal skills. We got that with bells on. The relationships developed with the academic team, whose knowledge and enthusiasm shone, will no doubt continue to bear fruit for both parties. We are already well into planning more KTP activity.”
Dave reflected just as positively on the KTP: “This project has really helped me to appreciate the commercial impact of my research, enabling me to switch between academic and industrial perspectives. I was pleased to discover that Cole-Parmer were interested in fundamental understanding of scientific problems.”
Dr Gareth Cave led a different KTP with Agrimin Limited, a company specialising in nutrition products for cattle and sheep. The project aimed to develop a commercial production process for the fabrication of nanoparticles for use in animal feed, to correct mineral deficiencies and metabolic disorders. Rebecca Redfern of Agrimin Limited commented on how successful the KTP had been, explaining: “It has brought a whole new range of skills into the company which have been important in progressing the technological ‘know how’ of the company. Access to both the knowledge base supervisor and facilities has been invaluable, as this kind of access is typically both quite difficult and costly for a small business. The project has allowed the company to construct a pilot scale reactor system which would have not been possible without the support of a KTP project.”
Gareth told us: “Not only was it a great experience for the associate, it was also a real eye opener to me as an academic, and immensely rewarding to see our lab-based concept right through to a finished product.”
In a further demonstration of the success of these recent KTPs, the research associates working with both Dave and Gareth – Jonathan Eastoe and Dr Joseph Thompson – were both offered continuing employment following the completion of the respective KTPs.
These partnerships received financial support from the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) programme . KTP aims to help businesses improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of the knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK knowledge base. Knowledge Transfer Partnerships are funded by UK Research and Innovation through Innovate UK, and are part of the government’s Industrial Strategy.