Igniting South London business growth through university collaborations and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
This week (24th April), businesses and academics came together at the University of Roehampton for BIG South London’s Funding & Collaboration for Growth event.
The event, organised alongside Roehampton, St George’s University of London, London South Bank University (LSBU) and Kingston University, aimed to illustrate how businesses can collaborate with universities, specifically focusing on Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs).
It was opened by Dr Richard Keogh, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and External Engagement), who said: “In the last academic year alone, the University of Roehampton has secured over £10m of competitive grant capture. This represents an exceptional growth trajectory, and we pride ourselves on our world-class research, its wide-ranging impact and on being a partner of choice in South London and beyond. Businesses and universities coming together presents our best opportunity to generate a culture of innovation and to support the local and regional economy. We are excited by this prospect which is the focus of today’s event, and we are looking forward to exploring long-term collaborations and the commercial benefits they can deliver.”
KTPs are a UK-wide programme funded and managed by Innovate UK. Running for more than 45 years, they have supported more than 14,000 businesses to drive innovation for a positive impact. They are a way for businesses to bring in academic expertise to work on a project or challenge, which will help them unlock further growth. Taking place over a 12 – 36-month time frame, they are open to businesses across all sectors. They are essentially a three-way partnership between a business, an academic and an associate who is a university graduate who will go into the business and work on the project under the supervision of the academic.
Shona Campbell, Innovate UK KTN Knowledge Transfer Adviser tasked with increasing engagement in South London, says: “For every £1 Innovate UK invests into the KTP Programme, it delivers £8 of economic value. It’s a hugely impactful scheme which is good for the UK and good for the economy. Depending on the size and type of your organisation, Innovate UK will fund between 50% – 75% of the project and £50m is available to fund KTPs in the next year, so we would urge businesses to get involved and use this scheme to ignite their growth.”
In order to illustrate how a KTP actually works in practice, the event brought together a panel made up of two businesses that are currently undertaking a KTP – Fresh Fitness Foods and Ashtead Engineering – as well as senior academic Professor Deborah Andrews from LSBU, a former KTP Associate Randall Martyr and Neil Pearce, Head of Commercial Enterprise at LSBU.
Nathaniel Hockings, Chief Operating Officer, Fresh Fitness Foods described their experience of undertaking a KTP with the University of Portsmouth: “The decision to undertake a KTP was a no-brainer for us. Fresh Fitness Food delivers nutritionally tailored, ready-to-eat meals to individuals. The focus of the KTP project is identifying and developing a new central production Unit for our business, which will allow us to scale. The KTP associate that has come into our business has been absolutely exceptional. They have quickly become part of our team and made a positive impact very quickly. It’s delivering value now and will continue to in years to come.”