Knowledge Transfer Partnerships – 40 years in the making and more relevant than ever?

Featuring Richard Wadman | 20th July, 2018

Earlier this month, Innovate UK published a news story with the sub-heading ‘Tens of millions for UK businesses to work with a university or research organisation and a graduate on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership’. Given that KTPs have been around for 40 years, the news piece was presumably to relay the quantum of funds allocated by UK Government to the initiative and its importance in the drive to encourage UK businesses to invest in R&D.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP)

In the words of the Innovate UK, “Knowledge Transfer Partnerships is a UK-wide programme that has been helping businesses for the past 40 years to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK Knowledge Base.” Or in simpler terms, KTP is a three way partnership between:

  • UK-based business or a not-for-profit organisation
  • An academic or research organisation
  • A suitably-qualified graduate

These three parties come together to enable “a business to bring in new skills and the latest academic thinking to deliver a specific, strategic innovation project…”

Just in case you are thinking that this is only relevant to large organisations employing people in lab coats,check out the examples flagged in a recent news piece in Business Cornwall entitled “Trio of businesses launch KTPs”.

KTP for businesses

The academic or research organisation partner will help to recruit a suitable graduate, known as an ‘Associate’. They will act as the employer of the graduate, who then works at the company for the duration.

The scheme can last between 12 and 36 months, depending on what the project is and the needs of the business.

A KTP is part-funded by a grant and in part by the business. The respective contributions depend on the scale and length of the project. It will also depend on the size of your company.

Small & medium-sized Large businesses
Grant to company contribution 2/3 grant to 1/3 company 50:50
Typical company contribution Around £35,000 per year Around £55,000 per year

How to apply

The application process is over viewed here  and as a business, there are two main routes to applying for a KTP:

  • Via a Knowledge Transfer Adviser
  • Via a Knowledge Transfer Adviser
  • Via the academic or research organisation

If you’re interested in taking part in a KTP, but don’t already have a university partner, you should contact your local KT (Knowledge Transfer) Adviser. They will:

  • check the feasibility of your idea and tell you if it is suitable
  • find the right academic or researcher to work on your project

If you already have a partnership with an academic or research organisation or know who you would like to work with on a KTP, you should go via that organisation’s KTP office.

The ‘Our KTP’ programme 2018 to 2019 is run continuously throughout the year with open and close dates set out here.  The next close date is 19 September 2018.

For businesses based in the South West, your KT advisors include:

  • Dorset and Wiltshire: Stephen Woodhouse – 07860 863 652 – woodhouse@ktn-uk.org
  • Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Exeter: Andy Treen – 01647 252 618 or 07584 705 411 – treen@ktn-uk.org

Final comments from me – take care as always on the interaction of grants for R&D and R&D Tax Credits and I would suggest talking legal advice/ seeking clarity on ownership of any IP derived from a KTP project

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