Specialist footwear company WearerTech is leading in world-class footwear for demanding environments, thanks to a successful Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of Salford, which aimed to embed an “applied research function” into product development.

WearerTech’s strategic aim was to be the primary footwear brand (of choice) in specific demanding environments which involve significant amounts of standing e.g. operating theatres, healthcare and catering. To do this the company needed to build improved understanding in the demands on footwear in these individual markets which could then be developed into product features that clearly differentiate WearerTech footwear.

WearerTech has an established position in the UK surgical and catering and hospitality markets. In order to maintain this position, increase sales, remain competitive against lower cost alternatives and grow through export markets, WearerTech needed to increase the technical differentiation between their product and competitors. Producing footwear with features having demonstrable benefits, backed up by trials evidence will provide customers with the reason to purchase a premium product e.g. improved efficiency, reduced sickness rates.

Working together with both Professor Chris Nester and Dr Anita Williams from the University of Salford’s School of Health Sciences, WearerTech recognised the need for a KTP to make this happen.

This partnership gave the opportunity for KTP Associate Jenny Anderson to attend courses more related to the business side, which would not been possible without undertaking the project including presenting her work at the Footwear Biomechanics Symposium in Brisbane, Australia. Furthermore, the opportunity to publish her research is an extremely important factor which has now meant that Jenny can undertake her PhD through published works.

From this KTP Jenny was offered continued employment within WearerTech post completion working within a Research & Development role to enable the continuation of her research, which is what she is most interested in, where she is now the Company Supervisor of a second KTP working alongside Salford University’s Academic supervisory team, Professor Chris Nester and Dr Carina Price to create a mass customisation strategy for workplace footwear and a tool to aid selection of appropriate footwear via an online platform.

Following a five-year gap, the Knowledge Transfer Network brought back the Best of the Best Awards, shining a spotlight on the KTP projects that have delivered above and beyond expectation. Only those partnerships that achieved an official grading of A or B within the specified timeframe were eligible to enter, so the quality of entries was extremely high. The KTP with Weartech was shortlisted as one of three finalists for Best Knowledge Transfer Partnership Award Category.

“I would recommend a KTP as it provides a new challenge on top of the academic research and helps to develop a different set of skills, as well as building on existing ones. It gives you the chance to apply your research in a real-world application, which is very rewarding”. Jenny Anderson, KTP Associate

“Our partnership with the University of Salford and the applied research we carried out together has enabled WearerTech to develop new shoes, based on evidence-based research. These new shoes provide greater comfort, protection and personalisation to help people standing on their feet for long periods of time at work. This is a breakthrough achievement enabled by this KTP”. Will Ghali, CEO WearerTech.