University helps businesses tech leap

University of Nottingham is awarded £1.2m in funding to help growing businesses develop technologies and ideas

By Steve Banting

The funding, which has been secured from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), is for Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) projects with businesses in a range of industries. 

KTP is a long-standing programme that uses the knowledge and technology of universities to help businesses improve their competitiveness, productivity and performance and meet core strategic needs to fuel growth.

Each partnership is essentially a three-way project between a company, a university, and a recent graduate, where the business is able to utilise academic expertise in order to develop a new technology or improve products and processes. Businesses taking part in the UK-wide scheme typically receive between £80,000 and £120,000 in funding in order for them to work with a University. On average, the pre-tax profits of businesses taking part in the KTP programme increase by over £250,000.

Three of the businesses benefitting from the University of Nottingham’s funding are based in the East Midlands: PEM (Power Electronic Measurements) of Long Eaton, who specialise in the design and manufacture of wide-bandwidth measuring devices, Delta Rail, based in Derby, who are the largest rail signalling control business in the UK, and Integrated Transport Planning Ltd from Nottingham, a company specialising in sustainable transport planning and research.

The University is running two KTP projects with PEM, the first to design new methods of DC current measurement and the second to develop and build high-frequency current sources to calibrate and assess the effectiveness of wide-band current probes.

Speaking about securing the KTP projects with The University of Nottingham, Chris Hewson, Chief Executive of PEM, said: “We were very pleased at how simple The University made the process of applying for the KTPs, and to get both projects approved is excellent news. We are now looking forward to progressing these exciting new developments.”

Neil Taylor from Integrated Transport Planning, said: “We were delighted with our successful application for TSB funding to develop the AccessAdvisor web-application, and conduct research into the presentation of map-based ‘Ease-of-access’ data for disabled people. The advice and support we received really helped us put together a strong application and sound project plan.”

Three businesses from outside the region were also successful in their KTP applications with The University of Nottingham. Veripos in Norwich is working with the University to develop high-accuracy satellite-based positioning for commercial applications. Photek, near Hastings, manufactures tubes and camera systems for photon detection. Krow Communications, a creative and advertising agency based in London and Birmingham, will be using the KTP project to develop data driven innovations across the business.

The KTP projects are involving academics from across the University. In addition to the more traditional Engineering-based projects, others include the first ever KTP projects from the Schools of Maths and Geography as well as only the second project in Physics.

Paul Yeomans, KTP Manager at The University of Nottingham, said: “There is a wealth of Knowledge within the UK’s Universities that businesses could be accessing to help them develop cutting edge new products or services and government funding to help them do it. It’s also encouraging to see a greater uptake from local businesses in the KTP scheme over the past 12 months and internally it’s good to see that academics from across the institution are keen to work with businesses both small and large to help them grow and innovate.”