There is to be a major expansion of Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, with an extra £30 million to grow the talent pool and help business
Science minister Jo Johnson announces £30m funding to expand KTPs
There is to be a major expansion of Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, with an extra £30 million to grow the talent pool and help businesses to innovate. The KTN and its network of Knowledge Transfer Advisors stands ready to play its part in applying this resource to boost the economy
The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) programme is to get an additional £30 million in the current financial year, enabling many more graduates and post-doctoral researchers to find entrepreneurial roles in companies across the UK.
The new money comes from the National Productivity Investment Fund, an initiative announced in the March 2017 budget as part of the Government’s plan to nurture a deep pool of commercially-minded research talent.
It is expected that as a result of the £30 million boost more than 200 additional post-graduate Associates will be recruited by academic partners to work on specific innovation projects in UK companies of all sizes and from all sectors.
The new money was announced by Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation on Thursday (9 November) at Queen’s University in Belfast.
Businesses of all sizes are partnering with our world-leading academics and researchers to learn how new skills and thinking can increase their competitiveness and productivity, Mr Johnson said. “This extra funding will ensure even more UK businesses continue to innovate and grow.
“By putting science, research and innovation at the heart of our Industrial Strategy, and emphasising the benefits of commercialising research, we are building on our strengths in R&D and delivering benefits across the country,” said Mr Johnson.
KTPs have been run with large companies including Unilever, Dyson, Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls-Royce and Sainsbury’s, but less visible is that 80% of KTPs are SME-led.
The £30 million injection represents a significant increase in funding, said Ruth McKernan, Chief Executive of Innovate UK. “This enables an increase to the KTP scheme this year, with additional KTPs becoming more closely aligned to Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund areas. In particular, the expanded KTP programme will look to develop skills that support the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. This is a £4.7 billion four-year programme to strengthen private sector innovation and enable the UK to derive greater economic benefits from its world-leading science base.
Against this backdrop, the new money can be seen as an important recognition of the contribution made in the past – and of the ongoing relevance of KTP – which has a 40-year track record of enabling business to bring in new research skills and access academic expertise.
Although KTP funding is channelled through Innovate UK, the programme has backing from the UK’s major public research bodies, including all the research councils, Government departments and the devolved governments.
KTPs are run with companies of all sizes, but they are particularly valuable for SMEs with limited internal research capabilities. The partnerships are put together and supported by a nationwide network of Knowledge Transfer Advisers, who are part of KTN.
With the expansion of the programme, Dr McKernan said Innovate UK is particularly keen to target SMEs that may not be aware of the KTP scheme.
The KTN’s local experts – the Knowledge Transfer Advisors (KTAs) –will play a central role in achieving this, helping businesses to find academic partners, plan projects and deliver them to time, says KTN Director Dr Steve Welch, who is responsible for the KTAs.
“KTPs have an impressive history of fostering innovation and the KTN welcomes the boost to funding, which will allow us to provide significantly more support for businesses in the development of innovative products and strengthen links between universities and industry to promote knowledge flows.”
“This in turn will underpin the development of new high-tech sectors, drive productivity and contribute to the growth of the UK economy,” Dr Welch said.