Calling all SMEs: Get the knowledge you need to innovate and increase productivity

06 Nov 2018


If you form a Knowledge Transfer Partnership scheme, Government-funded experts will help you scope a project, find a university partner, apply for funding and manage the project to successful completion.

The innovation agency Innovate UK recently saw a £30 million boost in funding for its Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) programme and is now keen to find SMEs to take part in the scheme, which pairs companies with universities and research organisations to deliver a specific project and embed new and lasting capabilities in UK businesses.

The £30 million funding boost will fund an extra 200 KTPs.

If your company has an idea for an innovation or is looking for ways to increase productivity, but you feel you do not have the necessary expertise in house, forming a KTP is a good way to move things forward.

The first step is to get in touch with a Knowledge Transfer Advisor (KTA) who can plug you into the national “Knowledge Base” (generally a university or other research organisation) so you can identify appropriate academic experts for your project

The KTA provides support throughout, from shaping a project brief in preparation for you to apply for a grant to set up the KTP, to help in finding the best academic partner, and coaching and mentoring the post graduate implementing the project.

Once a partnership is agreed, the university partner will work with you to jointly recruit a well qualified post-graduate, usually with a Master’s or PhD, who will work on the project at your company. The post-graduate or ‘Associate’ as they are known, will be based at your premises delivering the project and ensuring full knowledge transfer to your business supported by the academic partner, who will devote 0.5 days per week to your project.

The length of KTPs varies from 12 – 36 months, depending on the nature of the project and the requirements of your business.

Part of the cost is funded by the grant from Innovate UK. Project costs vary, but can typically be of the order of £75,000 per project year. For SMEs the grant rate is 66.7 percent of the project costs, for large companies 50 percent. The remainder of the project costs are met by a cash payment by your company. In effect businesses receive the services of a well qualified high-achieving Associate together with key academic expertise, facilities access, consumables and training budgets for less than the cost of a direct hire.

KTPs are run with companies large and small, but they are particularly valuable for SMEs with limited internal R&D capabilities. With the expansion of the programme, Innovate UK is particularly keen to target SMEs who may not be aware of the KTP scheme.

Who are the Knowledge Transfer Advisors?

KTAs have extensive experience of research and industry and can be looked to as a source of independent expert advice. They are employed by Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Network, the body responsible for bringing industry and universities together to promotes innovation.

As the first contact point, your local KTA can answer all your questions about KTPs. If you would like to take part, they will check the feasibility of your idea and if it is suitable for funding.

For more information contact your local Knowledge Transfer Associate:

Contact the Growth Hub on 01744 742042 to take the first step.