The power of collaboration: in the first of our mini series, we hear from leading business women about how they used a highly successful academic partnership model (KTP) to accelerate innovation and create significant commercial impact.

Realising opportunities to innovate new products and services, improve existing ones, increase productivity, enhance management effectiveness – these are key to business leaders’ strategic thinking.

Since 1975, around 14,000 UK businesses have discovered a powerful tool to help them do precisely this: Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs). Matching a business with one of the UK’s world class knowledge bases (university, research organisation or catapult), KTPs create a collaborative team that works together to deliver a strategic innovation project. From life sciences to construction, transport to the third sector, KTP transforms organisations of all sizes right across the economy and right across the UK.

In the first of a short KTP series around International Womens’ Day, and to coincide with a wide range of KTP events over the coming weeks (find one near you here), we hear from three leading business women about how this Innovate UK programme supported their organisations to innovate for growth.

First we hear from Sarah Ferguson, Managing Director of The Algorithm People. Optimize, by the Algorithm People, are specialists in fleet and freight transport optimisation, decarbonisation and transformation, using powerful artificial intelligence.

“The objective of our KTP [with Teesside University] was to develop a new route optimisation framework to facilitate a new concept of mobile storage hubs (vans, lorries, cars etc). Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms have been developed to optimise the development of storage hubs based on historic data. 

Our KTP project has resulted in the development of AI based algorithms and our company pioneering innovation in the sector.

Commercially, the success of the project has enabled us to accelerate our plans for growth. With the development of the technology in progress with the project, we were able to bring forward the most recent investment round of £2.2m funding. The potential provided by the new technology has enabled us to secure new contracts resulting in triple digit growth and increased valuation.

KTP has enabled us to bring our research in house to maintain and build on our agile innovation strategy. It ensures we continue leading the charge in our sector with cutting edge technology and the continual development of new IP.

Joining the dots through a true collaboration is exciting and an exceptional way to make innovative ideas a reality”.

Operating in a very different sector is Charlotte Hale, Operations Director, Sevenoaks Modular, a rapidly expanding timber frame and modular manufacturer based in South Wales.

“Our experience with KTP has been really positive and the impact on the business has been huge. Via the KTP we have had access to the specialist knowledge and expertise at Cardiff Met Uni which has been invaluable.

As with all KTPs, the project is overseen by a KTP Associate who acts as the link between the business and the academic team. In our case we had two Associates and both have been exceptional (the last one is now a permanent employee and continuing to make a fantastic contribution to the business).

The KTP allowed us to really fast-track our innovation ideas, allowing us to develop more sustainable solutions which is a core value at Sevenoaks but the KTP didn’t just allow us to achieve our innovation goals more quickly: it’s also about the quality of the innovation, which happens thanks to the access to specialist expertise. The partnership framework requires that there is a clear action plan; and the Knowledge Transfer Adviser from Innovate UK-KTN also makes sure that there is a constant level of challenge and rigour to ensure the very best outcome for the project”.

And finally in this blog, we hear from Lucy Jones, VP Clinical at Oviva, an NHS provider that delivers digitally-enabled programmes to help make lasting healthy changes through support and education.

“Oviva aims to transform the effectiveness and efficiency of its digitally enabled weight management and diabetes prevention programmes by incorporating novel techniques which will transform behaviour change for patients.

Our KTP with City University not only provides project management and skilled resources…but the support of the University academic supervisor makes it as current and evidence-based as possible. A KTP was one of the only ways to achieve this – the KTP collaboration (which, incidentally, is entirely led by women on both the academic and business sides!) has given us an excellent member of the team to drive forward innovation; and also the collaboration with best in class academics to partner with and learn from. It has the power to be truly transformational in a single project.

Whilst it is still early days, we are already seeing great changes for our patients in terms of personalisation of their clinical journeys according to behaviour change research through tools, podcasts etc. All of this will drive better engagement, leading to better clinical outcomes. This means better health for them in the short term, and then less complications long term, resulting in less pressures on the NHS. I would absolutely recommend KTPs.

Do you think KTP could help your business innovate for growth? Find out more about KTP by visiting one of the many KTP events running throughout the UK during March – a listing of them is here.

Or explore the KTP website for more information on how KTP could transform your business.

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