The power of partnerships

Posted on 17 Jan 2023 by The Manufacturer

David Elson, Head of Manufacturing and Materials at Innovate UK, looks back on the recent KTP Awards.

For 45 years, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) has been helping businesses innovate for growth. It does this by connecting businesses that have an innovation idea with the expertise to help deliver it. Right now, around 800 businesses, 100 knowledge bases and over 800 graduates are involved in KTPs – collaborative, three-way partnerships creating positive impact and driving innovation. The annual KTP awards, which were held recently in Liverpool, are an excellent showcase for seeing the impact and benefits of these important partnerships.

KTP Awards - Business Transformation Winner
Above: From left to right: Prof Steve Austen, Engineering Director at Supacat; Matthew Harvey, KTP Associate; Prof Chris Smith from Exeter University; Prof Suzannah Lipscomb, Host, KTP Awards 2022

Take for example the business impact and transformation category. Finalists for this award have demonstrated a transformative commercial outlook and by accessing academic knowledge to deepen expertise, companies are able to expand their commercial capabilities and exploit market opportunities.   

The winning project was SC Group-Global, University of Exeter and Matthew Harvey for their work on an All-Terrain Mobility Platform (ATMP) hybrid drive vehicle.  

The project developed the expertise required for the propulsion, control and associated ancillary systems for a ‘go anywhere’ high mobility vehicle, for use in hazardous environments, including the defence and emergency services sector.  

SC Group’s (SC) principal activity is research and development, design, prototyping, manufacturing, sale and support of high mobility vehicles and other systems across the defence, emergency services and energy sectors. 

Throughout the project, SC Group has had to upskill enabling them to undertake electric vehicle activities. The team has now established the necessary infrastructure to develop and manufacture high-performance off-road vehicles, to cross a variety of terrains and SC has gained significant contemporary expertise on hybrid electric powertrains.  

These new capabilities can be adapted for a variety of situations and retrofitted to off-road vehicles. Various sectors can utilise this technology to improve operational capability whilst protecting the planet.  

These outcomes have been transformative to the SC Group, the academic team and increasingly for the defence sector, with SC shifting from ‘not knowing what it didn’t know’ about hybrid and electric vehicles and is now recognised as a leader in hybrid and electric drive-in defence and other sectors. 

Funding opportunities

Resource efficiency for materials and manufacturing: Innovate UK will invest up to £1m in innovation projects. The aim of this competition is to support UK materials and manufacturing organisations to become more resource efficient. Simultaneous demonstrations of how UK materials and manufacturing will become more resilient or technologically advanced are encouraged.  

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) – 2022 to 2023 Round 5: UK registered academic institutions, RTOs or catapults can apply for a share of up to £9m to fund innovation projects with businesses or not for profits. 

Innovation loans: Innovate UK is offering up to £25m in loans to micro, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Loans are for highly innovative late-stage research and development (R&D) projects with the best potential for the future.  

There should be a clear route to commercialisation and economic impact. Your project must lead to innovative new products, processes or services that are significantly ahead of others currently available, or propose an innovative use of existing products, processes or services. It can also involve a new or innovative business model. 

The closing date for applications to this round of funding is Wednesday 11 January. The next round of funding will open on January 12. 

Innovate UK Smart Grants: Smart is Innovate UK’s responsive grant funding programme. It has focused eligibility criteria and scope to support SMEs and their partners to develop disruptive innovations with significant potential for rapid economic return to the UK.  

Innovate UK is investing up to £25m in the best game-changing and world-leading ideas, designed for swift, successful commercialisation. Ideas need to be genuinely new and novel, not just disruptive within their sector. 

Proposals must be business focused, with deliverable, realistic, adequately resourced plans to achieve return on investment, growth and market share following project completion. 

Analysis for Innovators: Innovate UK will invest up to £3m in small collaborative innovation projects working with analysis for innovators (A4I) partners. The aim of this competition is to match the best UK scientists and cutting-edge facilities with businesses that have complex analysis or measurement problems. Proposals must describe a measurement or analysis problem where you are seeking a solution to improve your businesses productivity or competitiveness. 

This is stage one of a two-stage competition. No funding is awarded at this stage. Following assessment, successful stage-two applications will be grant funded, to work with the relevant A4I partner organisations. 

For more information, click here.