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Vishwa Wijedasa (Petlon Polymers & UWE) receiving an award for the best KTP Associate presentation at the seminar from Gillian Rysiecki, a consultant at Momenta (right).
Vishwa Wijedasa (Petlon Polymers & UWE) receiving an award for the best KTP Associate presentation at the seminar from Gillian Rysiecki, a consultant at Momenta (right).

Internal News - 18 May 2006

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships: Collaborate to Innovate

A lively and successful seminar on the theme “Innovation through Collaboration” took place in Bath on 11 May 2006, showcasing the achievements of eight Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, which involve organisations across the South West region.

The event was hosted by the universities of Bath and the West of England.

A Business Breakfast introduced a number of local companies to Knowledge Transfer Partnerships or KTPs – Europe’s most successful knowledge transfer programme and the UK’s largest graduate recruitment scheme, now in its 31st year.

Case studies from recent projects demonstrated the impressive results that KTPs generate, with businesses and universities working together in partnership on a project with a dedicated graduate or Associate, as they are known: from novel engineering materials to innovative marketing strategies.

Benefits to the businesses involved with KTP highlighted by the Associates at the seminar include several patents pending, technology licensing deals and millions of pounds in savings and new business.

One of the KTPs represented at the seminar has resulted in financial benefits of more that £600,000 a year to the company partner.

The benefits of KTP are not just financial and this is reflected in the wide variety of partners involved, which include organisations from the charitable, education and healthcare sectors.

Change management, efficiency improvement, process improvement and continuous improvement programmes have all been successfully catalysed by KTP projects.

In her keynote address, Jane Guise, Chief Executive of the Royal Bath & West of England Society, explained how the Society has been benefiting the rural economy for more than 300 years and how it has now turned to KTP to help them respond to and profit from the rapidly changing business world and to implement better ways of working.

In his keynote address, Professor Tony Mileham, Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bath, focused on the strength that the department has in creating knowledge, with over 150 full-time researchers doing just that every day.

Once created, this knowledge and expertise can be further developed in partnership with business through the KTP scheme, in which the department has been actively involved for more than 20 years.

The Associates’ presentations made it clear that in the course of their two-year projects, they had made the most of personal development opportunities, with the potential for more responsibility, more flexibility and more visibility with their partner organisations cited as key drivers.

Vishwa Wijedesa encouraged other Associates to: “Look for simple key performance indicators to see if your project is working”.

“Keep communicating, plan and monitor your progress against targets and ask for feedback,” was the advice of Associate Rachel Andrews.

The standard of presentations was extremely high, with lively debate and audience participation at the end of each session. Michelle Farr (Bath & North East Somerset Primary Care Trust and the University of Bath) and Vishwa Wijedasa (Petlon Polymers Limited and the University of the West of England) were each awarded a prize for the best presentations of the day.

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Notes

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) is a partnership between a Company and a University who work together on a development project that is strategically important to the Company’s future. Since the scheme started in 1975, over 4,000 projects have received Government support.

Partnerships can cover any important aspect of a business, where the Company needs an injection of knowledge or to capture additional expertise. “Knowledge transfer” is achieved by employing one or more graduates, called Associates, to work on the specified project. The Associate works in-company, under the day-to-day supervision of a senior manager, called the Industrial Supervisor.

A member of the University staff, who has expertise relevant to the programme and is called the Academic Supervisor, visits the Company regularly and maintains frequent contact with the Associate.

35 KTP Programmes are currently running at the universities of Bath and the West of England.