Spotlight shines on 'Best-Kept Secret'

Posted on: 05/03/2019

From Best KTP to Best KB team – the KTP Awards celebrate outstanding impacts from the 40+ year Knowledge Transfer Partnership innovation scheme.

Since its launch over 40 years ago, the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) programme has quietly brought about innovation revolutions in companies big and small throughout the UK. Right now, over 800 companies across all sectors are involved in a KTP. But KTPs are sometimes described as being the “best kept secret in business”. The KTP Best of the Best Awards may change that.

KTPs can be the perfect fit in a situation where a company identifies an innovation opportunity but may not have the in-house expertise to deliver it.

Linking companies with the UK’s world-leading knowledge bases, KTPs create partnerships that go beyond achieving a specific innovation project. By employing a suitably qualified graduate (Associate) as a project manager and interface between the company and academic teams, a shift happens in the company, embedding knowledge and fostering a new culture of innovation.

Recent successes include a collaboration between specialist pump and motor manufacturer Rotary Power and Durham University to transform the manufacturing process. Neil Gray, Chief Operating Officer at Rotary Power summarized the KTP outcomes:

“The manufacturing process is now geared for continuous improvement. In the past we were doing checks, but not recording them. Now there is traceability on parts. This not only leads to improved product quality, it also helps with subsequent servicing. We are manufacturing to a higher tolerance and seeing less field issues.”

The KTP delivered so many benefits that the data acquisition and analysis system is being considered for use in other divisions of Rotary Power. “The KTP has considerably exceeded our expectations.”

In a different sector a partnership between Recycling Lives and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) is transforming recycling residue diverted from landfill to generate electricity, and make savings of £1.5 million a year.

The partners are now entering into a joint venture that will see their partnership building and owning a £540,000 research facility to commercialise the project.

Elsewhere, a new KTP between The Glasgow School of Art, together with John Gilbert Architects, Stewart & Shields and Design Engineering Workshop, will develop a specific Scottish approach to Passivhaus Рa range of social housing types that meet the international Passivhaus standards. The project will be “of critical importance to Scottish Government targets for new homes and climate change.”

“Collaborations such as this are a tangible demonstration of how the skills and expertise within Glasgow’s Art School can be applied to help improve the built environment with the many benefits that this can bring to both health and sustainable living”, commented Professor Tim Sharpe of The Mackintosh Environmental Architecture Research Unit (MEARU) at The Glasgow School of Art.

In healthcare/AI, Orbital Media, digital and social specialists, and the University of Essex have announced they are joining forces to use artificial intelligence to save the NHS millions of pounds per year by creating automated online GPs to revolutionise the way patients are treated.

And in financial services, Atom Bank in partnership with teams at both Newcastle University and Durham University have set aside three years for their KTP to conduct research on trust in financial services and how companies can design better digital banking services.


Across all sectors, KTPs are helping companies innovate for growth and creating positive outcomes for all three collaborative partners. The success of these unique three-way partnerships is being celebrated at the KTP Best of the Best Awards, nominations for which are open until midday on Friday 8th March. Winners will be announced at a special ceremony in May.


If you think a funded KTP could help your organisation, contact one of our specialist KTP Advisers. They are based throughout the UK and can assess your idea, help you apply for the KTP and will remain on hand with expert consultancy and support for the duration of the project.

KTP applications enjoy a high rate of success (around 90%), and competitions for funding run throughout the year. Find out more here.

There is further information on how a Knowledge Transfer Partnership could help your organisation, and how to apply for one here.

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