Growing numbers of South West businesses are discovering the benefits of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP)

Date: 
20 Feb 2018
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Over the last five years, the University of Plymouth has helped South West businesses access approximately £2million of investment for Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). This UK-wide programme has been helping businesses tap into the wealth of knowledge, skills and technology in universities for the last 40 years. 

Dave Marshall, Specialist KTP Advisor for the University of Plymouth explains: “When a business contacts us about a KTP, it’s generally because they’ve got a problem they can’t solve on their own. The aim of KTPs is to bring universities and local businesses together to deliver a strategically important project, resulting in an innovative new product or process, giving the company a significant return on their investment.”

The average KTP costs £75,000 per year, with SMEs generally contributing approximately £25,000. This includes paying a KTP Associate, a graduate who works in the business for a set period of time and is jointly recruited and managed by the business and the university. According to Innovate UK, every pound invested in KTP typically yields a six to seven-fold return on investment. 

Langage Farm is just one business to have benefited from its special relationship with the University of Plymouth.  Based on the outskirts of Plymouth, Langage Farm embarked on its second KTP with the University involving experts in food quality, to gain a greater understanding of production variations needed for enhanced quality, waste reduction and new product development across its range of more than 100 different ice creams, creams, cheeses and yoghurts. 

Managing Director of Langage Farm Paul Winterton says; “Without collaborating with the University of Plymouth it simply wouldn’t have been possible for us to secure a £4.2 million contract to supply yoghurts to one of the UK’s largest supermarkets.  We often joke that KTP Associate Anna Tatkiewicz has become a world expert in yoghurt, but it is true. Her in-depth knowledge of the science behind the products gave the supermarket confidence that we would deliver. We now see the University of Plymouth as an extension of our team. It’s brilliant to have them on the doorstep.”

Internationally-renowned creator of medical rehabilitation and sports performance products DM Orthotics has recently completed its fourth KTP with the University of Plymouth. This is helping the Redruth-based company develop a number of products to support people with a range of medical conditions, including a sports sock for runners and gymnasts who have plantar fasciitis.

DM Orthotics Managing Director Martin Matthews says: “Everything we market is evidence based but as an SME we simply can’t afford to do full blown research. Without a KTP, it would take us another ten years to get the evidence we need. KTPs have been instrumental in us having that evidence base and have enabled DM Orthotics to punch above its weight.” 

Tips for running a successful KTP

  1. 1.     Know what you want to achieve

“Having a clear idea of the end game is essential. You need to start the process with a key question you want answered. It also needs to be a question that hasn’t been covered before,” advises Martin Matthews. 

  1. 2.     Invest time in your KTP Associate

“You’ll only get good results if you actively manage your KTP Associate,” says Nick Tripp. “Be prepared to give time to that person and have an open door so they can talk to you,” adds Martin Matthews.

  1. Look out for new opportunities

“Be clear on what you want to achieve, but don’t be afraid to explore other opportunities as they arise to maximise benefits and deliver beyond the scope of the initial project,” advises Dave Marshall.

  1. 4.     Play the long game

“There are some quick benefits to doing a KTP, such as discovering what else is on the market, but research findings can take time to deliver commercial results,” says Martin Matthews. 

  1. 5.     Make the most of your relationship with your University

“As the KTP progresses, you can identify other areas of collaboration that will both complement your KTP, and support you over the longer term. The University supports businesses in all sorts of other ways and we are interested in forging ongoing relationships,” says Dave Marshall.

To find out more about how KTP can inspire innovation in your business, contact the Enterprise Solutions Team on 0800 052 5600 or email: enterprisesolutions@plymouth.ac.uk 

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