Business success through Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
South West businesses have accessed around £2 million of investment for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) with the help of the University of Plymouth’s Enterprise Solutions team and KTP Office. KTP is a UK-wide program that has been running for more than 40 years, where a company looking to innovate and grow collaborates with a university academic and graduate.
Depending on the business needs, a KTP can last between 12 and 36 months and is available to UK businesses of any size. The aim is to encourage innovation by bringing universities and businesses together. These collaborations can be transformational because KTPs are about making a step change in a business, often bringing about positive market disruption in terms of new products or services.
Every KTP is different, but here are some of the most common benefits for business.
Access to the latest knowledge and kit to gain a competitive market advantage
One of the most attractive things about a KTP is the access it gives a business to a university’s knowledge and specialist equipment. Many of our academics are world-leading experts in their field and are familiar with the latest research that relates to the business project. A KTP enables access to facilities and equipment – such as electron microscopes and wave tanks – that can help turn business ideas into reality. The University’s expertise, facilities and equipment have helped many businesses develop innovative products and new ways of working.
Reducing costs and increasing profits
Costs can easily break a business and so it is important to know if a KTP is likely to give a return on investment. KTPs are partly funded by a government grant, with other opportunities for further funding throughout the program. Business grants depend on the size of the company, and funding could potentially cover two-thirds of the project costs. Based on data from 2011 to 2016, businesses will also, on average, find a £60,000 increase in pre-tax profit during the lifetime of the project. This package helps reduce the risk whilst maximising the rewards.
Turning ideas into reality and accelerating products to market
It can be incredibly difficult to turn an idea into a physical product or process, but that is what KTPs are all about. Collaborating with academics means experts in the relevant field can help identify key weaknesses and strengths in an idea. Identifying issues at an earlier stage can save valuable time and investment.
KTPs can make it more likely for an idea to take hold, as well as accelerating products to market. Working with creative minds can not only develop the initial idea, but possibly open new doors and stimulate more ideas for the future.
Delivering real commercial growth
KTPs can give business ideas a jumpstart into the market, paving the way for growth. KTPs aim to increase profitability for a business and can ultimately make a business or product more competitive.
A good example is Plymouth-based design and manufacturing business Oakmount Control Systems Ltd whose KTP with the University has focused on developing automation in the company’s processes, as well as working with customers to increase innovation. Working with a KTP Associate and academic team from the University, the project has provided access to expertise to help tackle the problems of how best to automate highly variable and complicated processes which are currently carried out by staff. The reason for automating is not to replace staff but to tackle the problem of unavailability of skilled workers. The project will also assist the current employees in their jobs and increase production capacity while lowering costs, ultimately making products more cost effective for customers. Anticipated outcome of the project is to use robots and software to automate the production of metal and plastic parts produced by the company. This technology will also be demonstrated to customers and competitors who will also need to automate to remain competitive.
Every KTP is unique and the reason why the programme has been so successful for the last 40 years is the range of benefits it can bring to a business. Being prepared to be challenged and remaining open to the opportunities the collaboration presents are the key to making the most of a KTP.