Knowledge Transfer Partnerships: What Are They and How Can They Help Your Business?

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships: What Are They and How Can They Help Your Business?

For businesses to compete effectively, they must consider looking beyond productivity and invest in innovation through research and development. The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) is a cost effective means of enabling them to do this.

When it comes to gaining an competitive edge through innovation, businesses must find a source of creativity to draw on. This is as true of manufacturers as it is for companies involved in industrial processes, or those in the technology sector.

Knowledge, therefore, is a hugely valuable business resource, offering businesses the potential to develop and grow, providing they can access it.

As enablers of innovation, through the various industries we serve and support with our thermal management capabilities,  including prototyping services, we understand the need for knowledge and the way Knowledge Transfer Partnerships can help unlock potential, while mutually benefiting those businesses and institutions involved in them.

What are Knowledge Transfer Partnerships?

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships are about uncovering, exploring and maximising future potential through the close cooperation of businesses with academic institutions, typically universities.

KTPs provide the funding and support to allow this close cooperation to happen. In practical terms, it means business working closely with an academic team and highly skilled graduate, with the graduate working on site with the business while still employed by the academic institution. Often, the lecturer or professor will work closely with the graduate to quality assure their work.

According to Innovate UK, a government-funded public body, 69% of companies say that they find access to skills to be a major problem. At the same time, the UK faces the risk of a brain-drain of talented researchers, if it does not develop the means to further hone their talents and find a focus for them beyond a purely academic setting.

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership aims to address these issues, by providing the innovative thinking and skills that companies crave, but also by providing real-world, valuable experience, and often future employment, to talented graduates.

Innovate UK’s figures illustrate how businesses, graduates and academic institutions benefit.

Who Knowledge Transfer Partnerships Help and Support

Graduates can accelerate their careers by being involved in a KTP, on average earning £50,000 more over a 10 year period. 82% of universities taking part in KTPs say that they have gained a better understanding of industry as a result. This is especially valuable in helping them engage with SMEs when helping their graduates start their careers.

woman sitting with a lecturer through her knowledge transfer partnership

For companies taking part in Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, 52% are reported to have then recruited their KTP placement permanently once the partnership has finished.

The UK economy as a whole also benefits, with a reported £7.50 in increased GDP for every £1 spent on Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.

KTPs have had a demonstrable effect on companies involved in them, including breakthroughs in new medicines and in manufacturing processes involving robotics.

Taking part in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership can give a business access to skills and knowledge it would not otherwise have. It relieves the pressure of having to rely solely on in-house resources, and it can open up whole new strands of thinking and development leading to success through innovation.

UK-based businesses or non-profit organisations of any size can take part in KTPs, as can academic or research organisations, and suitably qualified graduates, providing they have the capability to lead a strategic, business-focused project.

As such, KTPs are a three-way partnership, designed to benefit, businesses, academic institutions and graduates.

Attracting Excellence

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships act as an extremely effective way of recruiting graduates, attracting committed, and highly skilled and qualified employees. They help graduates find real world applications and channels for their skills, and help companies overcome barriers to gaining the knowledge they need to develop.

man reading on a bench for knowledge transfer partnerships blog by Elmelin

Prominent companies involved in KTPs include Rolls Royce, Unilever, Dyson and Sainsbury’s, but the real story lies with the 80% of KTPs that are led by SMEs.

And because KTPs stretch across the country, based in many different regions, they can help businesses thrive at the grassroots level.

How Businesses Can Take Part in Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

KTPs are part funded by a grant. The participating business will need to contribute to the salary of the graduate associate working with it, and the cost of a supervisor to oversee the specific scheme.

The amount of this contribution depends on the size of the business, with SMEs contributing around £35,000 per year. This usually amounts to about a third of a project’s total costs. Large businesses contribute to about half a project’s costs, at around £55,000 per year.

Businesses can either apply by contacting their local Knowledge Transfer (KT) Adviser, or through finding and academic or research organisation that wishes to work on a Knowledge Transfer Project. These organisations tend to have their own KTP offices, which businesses can contact directly.

The business and its prospective academic or research partner must complete the KT Application together and then submit it to the official KTP Portal.

This application must contain information about all the participants, what the project’s objectives are, and the proposed tasks and deliverables for the associate who will be assigned to the project.

An independent group of assessors will assess the application, and normally the applicants will be told of the outcome within 12 weeks.

KTP programmes run throughout the year, with various dates and deadlines.

Grow Your Business

Whether you face strategic challenges, or you want to enhance the skills and knowledge of your staff, or you want to increase your pre-tax profits, a KTP may well be the means for achieving these things.

woman reading a book on her Knowledge Transfer Partnership for a blog by Elmelin, thermal management experts

With help covering up to two-thirds of your project cost, a Knowledge Transfer Project can unlock innovation and your business’s potential.

If you have a project in mind, and you want to involve practical, problem-solving applications to do with industrial insulation, thermal management or specialist manufacturing, then please contact us.

Phone us on +44 20 8520 2248, email, or complete our online enquiry form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.