Improving competitiveness and productivity – a magic formula for success, but it’s not always easy to access the right skills, knowledge and technology to step up a business gear.

If this sounds familiar to your organisation, it might be worth considering a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP).

What’s a KTP?

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) have been around for more than 40 years and have a well-established framework. A UK-wide programme, the scheme is run and managed by Innovate UK on behalf of the major Research Councils.

KTPs are a cost-effective way to undertake commercially orientated R&D by accessing research expertise your organisation may not have in-house. Innovate UK contribute up to 67% of the total project cost for SMEs and up to 50% for larger businesses.

Companies, charities and not-for profit organisations – including social enterprises – in any sector can be eligible to undertake a KTP.

Three’s company

In a nutshell, KTPs are a three-way collaboration between your organisation, a university and a graduate who – supported by an expert academic team – joins your organisation to drive a project forward.

Projects vary in length with some lasting up to three years. Their remit can be equally varied, spanning business processes, commercial development, efficiency savings, manufacturing, product design and development, technical innovation…

Despite this variety, all KTPs have a couple of things in common. Firstly, you and your organisation determine the direction of the project, and, secondly, you are involved recruiting the best graduate for the job.

Applying is easy as K-T-P

There are a couple of ways to apply.

If you haven’t already decided on a university to work with, you’ll need to contact your local KT Adviser. They’ll get you started and recommend a university partner for you.

If you have decided on a university partner, they will have dedicated staff to manage the application process and work with you throughout the partnership. At Loughborough, our Partnership Development Team has worked with companies to facilitate the KTP application process for many years. We help to plan the project, calculate costings, and pull together the business case for the venture, recruitment and programme management.

When it’s ready, the KTP proposal is submitted online. It usually takes about six weeks for Innovate UK to assess applications.

KTPs benefit everyone

Organisations participating in KTPs have reported significant positive impacts. As well as being able to address a critical challenge in a cost-effective manner, they have experienced:

  • An average increase in annual profits of more than £1 million
  • Job creation – 60% of graduates take permanent positions with their host company
  • Improved skills and knowledge within the company
  • Enhanced competitive and productive output

Graduates employed as KTP Associates have the opportunity to manage and deliver a challenging strategic project – gaining invaluable experience and skills. Many secure a permanent role with their host company – around 300 job opportunities are created each year.

The universities involved also benefit. The work can give rise to research papers and industry-relevant teaching materials as well as opportunities for students and researchers alike – including work placements and the accumulation of commercial experience.

KTPs are often just the start of longer-term R&D partnerships that can really make a difference, accelerating the development of technologies and services that have real impact.

KTP tackles wind turbine radar interference

A two-year KTP allowed experts from our Department of Materials to work with Trelleborg Applied Technologies to address the problem of wind turbine radar interference.

The partnership has accelerated the development of a technology that will allow wind farms to be built closer to airports, military bases and weather stations that rely on radar – supporting the progress of sustainable energy generation.

The accelerated development has providing Trelleborg with a strong opportunity to expand its capabilities and consolidate its place in the stealth technology market which has an estimated value of more than £500 million globally.

The KTP Associate has now joined Trelleborg as the Innovation Lead at the company’s new Innovation Centre in Retford, bringing a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the company.

Working with the company allowed our academic experts to further develop and apply their coatings and nanocomposites knowhow to a current industry challenge. In addition, the partnership contributed to the development of undergraduate teaching, providing case studies that explore the effects of material properties and processing for energy applications.

The project was closely linked to the University’s Energy and Defence research themes and, going forward, we are in discussion with Trelleborg to continue and expand our work in these areas.

Philip Brindle – Technical Manager at Trelleborg – says: “It’s been absolutely fabulous to work with Loughborough. The KTP allowed us to really focus and accelerate delivery of the new technology.”

To find out more about how we can work with you, please visit