“This project is likely to be the most important one of my career as it built the foundation for a bright future ahead for all involved, myself included”.

One KTP Associate shares his KTP experience with us…..Over to Michael-John Treanor:

KTP Associate: Dr Michael-John Treanor

Company Partner: Integrated Graphene

Academic Partner: University of St Andrews

Knowledge Transfer Adviser, KTN: Dr Lorna Howarth 

What is your KTP project all about?

This KTP centred on investigating the physical and chemical properties of 3D graphene foams to enable the development of a highly cost-effective new foam.

This novel material has extraordinary potential for use within disruptive technologies, including supercapacitors and biofuel cells.  

What attracted you to the role of KTP Associate

I was drawn to the idea of applying the skills I had acquired in academia in an industrial setting, while maintaining the autonomy I had become accustomed to as a PhD student. It also presented an exciting challenge outside of my comfort zone and an opportunity to grow professionally.

What have been the most positive aspects of your role?

Being in a role that necessitated learning new abilities while using and expanding my pre-existing knowledge and expertise was very rewarding. Furthermore, the opportunity to work within a well organised and motivated group as part of this KTP was novel when compared to my academic background, where most of my time was spent working on my own. 

All of this, as well as the overwhelming success of the project, has provided me with a better understanding of what I can offer, professionally speaking.

Have there been any unexpected experience/s / outcome/s of your role? If so what? 

When I first started on this project, I was uncertain, even sceptical at times, of being able to utilise the time set aside for professional development. I was worried that the somewhat broad scope of what the budget could be used for would be to my detriment, leaving me indecisive. In the end, this concern was misplaced: not only was I able to partake in a number of activities that have helped me greatly, but I still have ideas I wish to pursue now that this KTP has come to an end.

What training and development have you benefited from as a result of working as a KTP Associate? 

The KTP Residential Modules at Ashorne Hill were pivotal to my professional development, helping me to identify which professional skills and attributes would be best suited for me to work on as part of my development. I took this further by participating in a career development course at the University for which I received an ILM Development Award. With my budget, I was able to attend various conferences of relevant interest to my career and even presented at some of them. Finally, I was afforded the chance to undergo training on a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt course.

How would you describe the unique experience of working as a KTP Associate

As an academic with a research interest in graphene, I had always thought (like many of my colleagues) that capitalising on the material’s incredible properties would require a near-herculean effort of technological innovation (and obscene amounts of funding). 

It was more or less a pipe dream, certainly not something someone like myself would ever be involved with in any way. To see a high quality graphene-based product on the market and to have decisively contributed to this is not something I would have expected before I started on the project.

Working on this project was also liberating; I had a great deal of freedom to apply my knowledge and skills as a researcher, while also embracing the opportunity to learn new skills that made me a more accomplished professional. Acquiring new knowledge/skills was always a large motivation for me for getting into academia, so to be able to do so while serving as a bridge between academia and industry was very fulfilling. This project is likely to be the most important one of my career as it built the foundation for a bright future ahead for all involved, myself included. 

Would you recommend the KTP Associate role to other grads/post grads? 

I would (and already have) recommended other postgraduates to seriously consider applying for a KTP Associate role. A KTP offers the chance to go after both academic and industrial pursuits, all the while developing new professional skills that will serve you well regardless of your future career choices. The professional development opportunity provided by participating in a KTP is almost impossible to find from other funding initiatives, which is something that could prove to be invaluable for any Associate in the current job market.

Which 3 words best describe your experience of being a KTP Associate?

Transcendent, Stimulating, Rewarding


This project received funding from Scottish Funding Council, Innovate UK and EPSRC.

Interested in working as a KTP Associate? Find out more about the role here, and check out current vacancies here.

Funding competitions for KTP are open throughout the year. Find out more here.

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