KTP Best of the Best Awards: a review

Posted on: 14/05/2019

Call to ‘Champion the benefits of working in partnership’ echoes KTP core mission. We review KTP’s 44 year history & make plans for continued success.


The recent KTP Best of the Best Awards ceremony was not just a time of celebration for the exceptional achievements of the Winners and Finalists. It also presented an opportunity to reflect on the continuing value of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships – an Innovate UK programme which, for over 40 years, has been helping forward thinking organisations innovate for growth by collaborating with the UK’s world class knowledge base.

In that time, Innovate UK has funded almost 12,000 projects, linking thousands of businesses with academics from universities and research organisations across the UK.

Right now, 810 UK organisations are part of KTPs connecting with 851 Associates – talented graduates or post-graduates who work as project managers for the KTP. Delivering more than £8 for every £1 invested, KTP continues to provide outstanding value and benefit to all three parties in these unique collaborative partnerships.

Collaboration is at the heart of innovation and is core to the effectiveness of KTPs. Dr Ian Campbell, Interim Executive Chair at Innovate UK, talked about the importance of collaboration throughout his keynote speech, reminding us that,

“effective collaboration does not always require complete harmony. In fact, collaborative arrangements often lead to innovation precisely because of the constructive friction that emerges when different sectors work together. Different ideas and perspectives collide and provide the catalyst for ground-breaking technologies and innovations”.

Bringing together those different sectors and partners is the role of the specialist Knowledge Transfer Advisers (KTAs) at the Knowledge Transfer Network (Innovate UK’s delivery partner for KTP). Based throughout the UK and with cross-sector expertise, the KTAs match commercial innovation projects with academic experts to create KTPs for development and growth. As Dr Ian Campbell stressed “Radical innovation happens when you connect previously unconnected organisations and people. Continuing to collaborate with the same people, from the same context, in the same way is not going to cut it anymore”.

The fruits of these collaborations were celebrated at the KTP Best of the Best Awards, with outstanding achievement rewarded in five categories. Richard Lamb, KTP Manager at Innovate UK, commented on how “the awards showcased the breadth of projects within KTP and the transformational impact they have on the academic, associate and business involved. The quality of all the projects nominated caused the judges many hours of debate, and all the finalists were exceptional projects”.

One of those judges, who also gave a keynote address at the Awards ceremony, was design advocate, Clive Grinyer, who echoed the vital roles of collaboration and design in facilitating innovation. In considering the award for the Best KTP, it was not just the extent to which the project helped deliver innovation impact, but the degree to which all three partners benefited from the partnership.


Overall winner of Best KTP was the partnership between Geckotech Solutions, Glasgow Caledonian University and Associate, Dr Mark Jenkins – now Research and Development Manager at Geckotech Solutions. Here’s how he summarised the value of the award and the partnership:

“This KTP…..was my first step out of academia and into the world of industry. The project proved significantly more fruitful than we imagined and it created a partnership that has now spanned almost five years and has supported numerous other projects….it was an honour to receive this award”.


Queen’s University Belfast brought another perspective on the unique role of KTP. Commenting on their win for best Knowledge Base KTP team, Lorraine Marks – whose KTP team now has 52 active KTP projects – said “I am delighted that the KTP team in Queen’s has won this award.  All KTP activity is highly regarded in the University and the programme has been a foundation for many research and teaching success stories. To have our activities recognised by Innovate UK and the wider KTP community is hugely gratifying and we will continue to work with our colleagues, customers and friends to build on this achievement”.


Reflecting on being one of five winners of the prize for outstanding contribution of an Associate (the Future Innovators award), Simon Kingston of EventMAP said “The KTP programme provided the support network of academic expertise alongside commercial insight to achieve real innovation. This award shines a spotlight on the contribution of the partnership in cementing the company’s place in the challenging market of television advertising spot scheduling”.


Dr Steve Welch, Director of Innovation at the KTN, added “The standard of projects qualifying for KTP is always extremely high and these awards help bring focus to the exceptional quality, breadth and depth of innovation expertise and drive that exists in the UK.  Facilitating this and letting it flourish through partnership is what KTP is all about”.


That commitment to partnership and collaboration underpins wider thinking about UK growth through innovation. Back to Ian Campbell: “The UK Government’s modern Industrial Strategy is also taking a collaborative approach by encouraging us to work across government, industry, academia and local communities, because we know that R&D alone doesn’t grow an economy and we need to see greater commercialisation of innovation”.


Enabling often disparate teams of experts – those from the commercial sector and those from academia – to work together to deliver strategic innovation projects is what KTP is uniquely well placed to do. Ian Campbell closed the evening by asking us all to champion the value of working in partnership for a highly worthwhile aim: “Through these partnerships the UK can continue to take advantage of major global changes and improve people’s lives”.


If you think a KTP could be the right mechanism to help your organisation innovate for growth, you will find more information here.




There were five winners in this category celebrating the vital contribution of Associates in a KTP:

  • Simon Kingston (Associate), Company: EventMAP; KB: University of Nottingham
  • Sean Howson (Associate), Company:  Mainstream Measurements, KB: University of Huddersfield
  • Ryan Jessop (Associate), Company: Clicksco UK; KB: Durham University
  • Radovan Gallo (Associate), Company: Sarissa Biomedical, KB: Aston University
  • Xiaojing Zhu (Associate), Company: RGH Rubber & Plastics, KB: University of Hertfordshire




Company: BemroseBooth Paragon, KB: University of Hull, Associate: Mr Haydn J. Ward


Company: Recycling Lives, KB – University of Central Lancashire, Associate – Dr Ala Khodier

Company: Principle Healthcare, KB: University of Bradford, Associate: Dr Suyog Aher



Sponsored by Ashorne Hill


Queen’s University Belfast


University of Essex

University of Nottingham




Company: LMK Thermosafe;, KB: Queen Mary, University of London; Associate: Harshit Porwal


Company: Spirent Communications; KB: University of Bath; Associate: Dr Talini Pinto Jayawardena

Company: Geckotech Solutions; KB: Glasgow Caledonian University; Associate: Dr Mark Jenkins




Company: Geckotech Solutions; KB: Glasgow Caledonian University; Associate: Dr Mark Jenkins


Company: Toffeln; KB: University of Salford; Associate: Jenny Anderson

Company: Gloucester Wildlife Trust; KB:  University of West of England; Associate: Dr Gemma Jerome


KTP aims to help businesses improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK knowledge base.  They are funded by UK Research and Innovation through Innovate UK as part of the government’s Industrial Strategy. The Knowledge Transfer Network delivers KTP for Innovate UK.

Organisations of all sizes and in all sectors are eligible to apply to participate in a KTP and applications are invited throughout the year. More information here.


More information about the finalists and winners is here.


Download the special commemorative brochure here


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