The University of Plymouth’s Enterprise Solutions team and KTP Office has successfully helped South West businesses access approximately £2 million of investment for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs). This UK-wide programme has been running for over 40 years and involves a company looking to innovate and grow collaborating 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 create innovative products or processes by bringing universities and businesses together. These collaborations can be transformational and that is because KTPs are about making a step change in a business. A KTP can bring about market disruption in terms of new products or services.
Of course, 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. You will be partnered with academics who may be world-leading experts in their field. They will be familiar with the latest research that relates to your business project as well as being able to direct you to facilities and equipment that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to access. This can then help you turn your ideas into reality so you gain a competitive market advantage.
Over the last 40 years, the University’s expertise, facilities and equipment have helped a number of businesses develop an innovative product or a new way of working. Through its KTP, construction giant Wates Group tapped into the University of Plymouth’s expertise in sustainable technologies to help them develop low carbon buildings across the UK.
Reducing costs and increasing profits
We all know that costs can break a business and so it is important to know if a KTP would give you a return on your investment. KTPs are partly funded by a government grant, with other opportunities for further funding throughout the programme. The grant you receive depends on the size of your company, but funding could potentially cover two-thirds of the project costs.
Based on the latest 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 while maximising the rewards.
Turning ideas into reality and accelerating your product 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 identify key weaknesses and strengths to your idea, which you might not have realised until it was too late. Yes, this can be tricky but identifying issues at an earlier stage will save valuable time and money.
KTPs can make it more likely for the idea to take hold, as well as accelerating your product 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.
Through its KTP, Made for Life Organics is developing new and reformulated 100% organic and natural skincare products using innovative new ingredients and manufacturing methods. These products are developed for people with sensitive and sensitised skin, including those undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Just three months into the KTP, the company estimated that the programme had saved around 12 months of R&D time.
Delivering real commercial growth
KTPs can give your latest business idea a jump start into the market, paving the way for growth. KTPs aim to increase profitability for a business and can ultimately make your business or product more competitive.
A really good example of this is Plymouth-based Bombardier Transportation’s KTP with the University of Plymouth. It focused on developing and designing the next generation train detection products. Working with a KTP Associate and academic team from the University, the project provided access to expertise to help tackle the innovative coding algorithms required to further develop the product.
The project was awarded the Best Business Impact Award at the national KTP Awards 2011, having secured 60 jobs and led to increased worldwide sales. Furthermore, the KTP reinforced the company’s global position as a train detection provider.
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 your KTP.