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Knowledge Transfer Partnerships Propel Innovation and Growth

Mon, 20 July, 2020


Now more than ever, with the changing political and economic landscape, UK-based businesses need to drive competitive advantage by being innovate in bringing new products, systems and services to market, and creating their own Intellectual Property (IP).

One of the ways in which small to medium sizes companies (SMEs) can achieve this is by entering into an Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP).  These are backed by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, which drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base.

What makes KTPs so successful is that, since their inception, they have demonstrated their ability to consistently provide commercial and operational benefits to all parties involved, and they are supported by a funding contribution from Innovate UK which helps to amplify the potential for SMEs to participate.

TWI Innovation Network – the open innovation hub of international research and technology organisation (RTO) TWI – is a highly experienced facilitator of KTPs with a solid track record in bringing together the optimum combination of complementary partners required to form a KTP that delivers.

KTPs are designed to power innovation by providing a model through which to access expertise, share knowledge bases and develop cutting-edge technology in a collaborative working environment. They typically last for a duration of 1-3 years and consist of three elements: a UK-based business, an academic/research organisation and a best-in-class graduate.

SMEs embarking on a KTP can expect to expand their capabilities, accelerate their rate of innovation to improve their market positioning, increase the possibility of creating IP and more, all of which can result in increased productivity, better processes, and an uplift in revenue and profits.

TWI Innovation Network’s Innovation Centres are ideally placed to be the academic/research organisation in a KTP due to their technical expertise derived from a unique combination of academic and industry-based research and development (R&D).  Operating as strategic partnerships between TWI and leading UK universities, Innovation Centres are focused on collaborate R&D in a dedicated topic area.  Currently, TWI’s Innovation Centres encompass materials, additive manufacturing, renewable energy, healthcare, joining 4.0 technologies, robotics and autonomous systems, Net Zero, recycling and hydrocarbon, and fatigue and structural integrity.  As well as taking on real-life technology challenges, Innovation Centres are helping to guide the next generation of engineers and scientists to become future leaders of industry, and disseminating shared state-of-the-art projects through journal and conference papers.

Best-in-class graduates in a KTP have the opportunity to work alongside leading scientific and technical experts on a range of disciplines, earn a professional qualification alongside a ‘real job’ and build their knowledge and skills to enhance their employability.

The cost of a 12-36 month KTP is shared by the UK-based business and Innovate UK.  SMEs can obtain a grant of 2/3 of the cost via the academic/research partner (TWI Innovation Centre) so are only required to contribute 33% in cash.  This is comparable to employing a well-qualified graduate but also includes the invaluable additional support and knowledge from the KTP partners.

“Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) help businesses to innovate and grow by bringing in new skills and the latest academic thinking to deliver a specific, strategic innovation project through a knowledge-based partnership.” "In addition, they enable privileged and cost effective access to the UK’s world-class research base and resources which are invaluable in creating novel products and opening up new markets” said Tat-Hean Gan, TWI’s Director of Innovation and Skills who heads up the TWI Innovation Network.

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