Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) - Red Paddle Co

Keeping ahead of the competition with a Knowledge Transfer Partnership - How an engineering graduate propelled a Devon business forward

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership is a partnership between a business seeking expertise, an academic institution with the required knowledge, and a recently qualified graduate or postgraduate known as a KTP Associate. The Associate is supervised to work on a specific project that facilitates innovation, wealth creation and helps to embed a new capability within that business.

Disruptive innovation from day one

As innovators in the field of stand-up paddleboards (SUP), Red Paddle Co. were one of the first companies to challenge the accepted practice of rigid paddleboards, designing and introducing an inflatable alternative in 2008 that maintains many characteristics of a rigid board in a more portable option. Red Paddle Co. operates at the premium end of the inflatable market and, inevitably, now face increased competition.

Red Paddle Co. initiated a KTP with the University of Plymouth to employ KTP Associate, Rudi Geraghty, for assistance in identifying areas of disruptive innovation that would lead to advanced, next-generation inflatable SUP products. This innovation would differentiate their products and create a compelling customer proposition by using enhanced materials, manufacture and design techniques.

Key results

  • A next-generation pump has been developed, optimised using advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics modelling techniques, rapid prototyping, and laboratory testing.
  • New design process and design tools embedded that built on current practices to enhance the methodologies and introduce advanced analytical techniques.
  • Enhanced paddle and fin box design that applied the new design process to accelerate the product development, and also employed Finite Element Analysis techniques.
  • Mutually beneficial professional relationships established between Red Paddle Co and the University, which also provided KTP Associate Rudi with significant commercial experience.

How Red Paddle Co. benefited from the KTP

Having an enthusiastic graduate on-board meant that Red Paddle Co.’s key components could be analysed, re-designed and optimised from the ground-up. Rudi developed a new, structured design process and toolbox that has been shared across the design team and given the company an enhanced, more efficient design capability. This capability has already led to a number of new and optimised components that Red Paddle Co are currently taking to market.

The partnership was strengthened by the knowledge and expertise from the team of academics and access to the advanced facilities and equipment, which included SUP stability testing in the University’s COAST Laboratory wave tanks, paddle blade design analysis, and rapid prototyping.

“We have enjoyed being part of the KTP. Not only was it a chance to help a new graduate get vital industry and real-world experience, it also gave us access to a much wider set of resources and knowledge than we would have otherwise been exposed to.” - John Hibbard, Co-Founder and CEO Red Paddle Co.

How our academics benefited from the KTP

Professor Roberto Fraquelli and Dr Rich Pemberton applied their wealth of knowledge and expertise to solve current, real-world problems that could also be used as valuable learning material to inform undergraduate and postgraduate teaching.

As an award-winning innovative designer with many years of industrial design experience to contribute to the KTP, Professor Fraquelli challenged the business’s current design process and decisions, enabling both of these to evolve and become more innovative, efficient and sustainable.

Dr Pemberton, as an experienced racing yacht designer, brought expertise in computational fluid dynamics, material optimisation, marine engineering and naval architecture. He supported KTP Associate Rudi to review and solve many design problems, through a combination of laboratory testing and advanced analytical techniques.

The KTP with Red Paddle Co has been highly beneficial for me personally as an academic and for my students. My industrial experience has previously been in the world of high value, one-off builds. Being able to bring some of that experience to, and learning about, the world of mass production has been very rewarding. It has provided me with a more diverse, current knowledge base for my lecturing, providing students with “real world” industrial problems to solve for their final year dissertations.” - Dr Rich Pemberton, Knowledge Base Supervisor.

How our graduate benefited from the KTP

During his time as KTP Associate with Red Paddle Co., Rudi Geraghty applied the skills and knowledge acquired during his engineering studies effectively. He delivered on time-sensitive commercial products while introducing a new design approach and advanced analytical techniques to the company’s existing design team, greatly expanding his knowledge and reinforcing skills with courses and training activities, in areas such as Open Foam computational fluid dynamics, data analysis and design principles.

Rudi’s experience has strengthened his leadership, communication and team working, enhanced his time and project management skills, and equipped him with a greater understanding of the commercial factors that affect new product development. The accumulation of this experience will no doubt benefit Rudi as he embarks on a design-based MPhil qualification.

“The ability to focus on my personal growth has been amazing, both through undertaking training and working closely with the academics. Coming from an engineering education into a product design environment has really shifted my perspective of what good design is, highlighting the importance of considering the customer interaction at all stages of design.” - Rudi Geraghty KTP Associate.

The University of Plymouth can support your marine business

The University’s mission is to develop long-term, strategic partnerships with marine businesses to help with product and performance testing, workforce development, and ongoing research and development support – using public funds where possible, and student projects and PhDs to assist with the development of new products and services.

Whether initiating a KTP, partnering for research, offering bespoke training or consulting on your specific needs, it is possible to engage with the University in a number of ways to access specialist expertise and world-class facilities.

For more information on how the University of Plymouth could help you, contact the Enterprise Solutions Team on 0800 052 5600 or email enterprisesolutions@plymouth.ac.uk.