As the UK’s innovation agency, our role is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. In all we do, we ask ourselves one question: will it help UK business bring new products and services rapidly to market?
“Sometimes businesses, particularly SMEs, simply don’t have the internal capability to deliver a new product, process or service”
Knowledge transfer is seen as key to unlocking growth – and the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) have a key role to play in our work to achieve this. From this perspective, over the years the KTPs have brought immense value to both the UK’s business and knowledge communities alike.
So what do KTPs involve – and what do they deliver?
Briefly, the partnerships aim to help improve the competitiveness of a business by drawing on expertise in UK universities, colleges and other knowledge providers. Knowledge is transferred through placement of a recently qualified individual to work on a challenging innovation project of strategic importance to a business, closely supported by both an academic and business supervisor.
“The partnerships aim to help improve the competitiveness of a business by drawing on expertise in UK universities, colleges and other knowledge providers.”
From a commercial point of view, KTPs represent the ‘gold standard’ in terms of accessing university expertise to grow business and increase profits, providing a framework which brings together a remarkable range of organisations, people and projects.
Sometimes businesses, particularly SMEs, simply don’t have the internal capability to deliver a new product, process or service – increasingly the case as products and services become ever more complex, requiring a much more multidisciplinary approach. A single company can often find it difficult to maintain the skills, knowledge and equipment necessary to support the introduction of a new product or service.
Which is where a KTP can help by providing them with access to knowledge, skills, equipment and partners – to resources and capabilities that on their own they simply wouldn’t be able to put together. Not just for the duration of the KTP project, but embedding an ongoing new strategic capability within the business, and developing a collaborative working relationship with academic teams at the forefront of their discipline offering further innovative possibilities.
The KTPs are squarely aimed at improving the competitiveness, productivity and performance of UK businesses, increasing the commercial relevance of UK academic research and teaching, and enhancing the personal skills and commercial awareness of recently qualified people entering the workplace.
“There are positive outcomes for all concerned and ultimately UK plc – and not surprisingly, there is now growing demand from business to scale up the volume of KTP activity.”
From the TSB’s perspective, via the systematic flow of knowledge between the knowledge base and business KTPs deliver on a variety of levels, providing British firms with new opportunities to break into new technologies, new markets, new processes and production methodologies.
Benefits a Business Partner can typically expect to see include increases in turnover, profit, exports, R&D investment, investment in plant & machinery and new jobs created. Academic Partner benefits include developing new, strategic business relationships, new, commercially-relevant research themes and projects and the opportunity for publication of papers and journals, as well as new business relevant teaching content to attract new students . For Associates, in addition to the opportunity to work on demanding, real-life business challenges, over half are subsequently offered and accept employment by the host company on project completion.
There are positive outcomes for all concerned and ultimately UK plc – and not surprisingly, there is now growing demand from business to scale up the volume of KTP activity.
Dr Clive Hayter, Head of Smart, KTP & Vouchers joined the Technology Strategy Board in March 2014 as Head of Smart, KTP and Innovation Vouchers and has overall responsibility for these responsive programmes. For more info on Dr Clive Hayter click here.