Could your business benefit from a Knowledge Transfer Partnership?

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships can provide a variety of different opportunities for collaborative work that more not normally arise.

29 January 2020

two people looking for solution

By Eloise Bevan, Innovation Funding consultant at ABGI-UK

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) are a part-government funded programme to encourage the collaboration and innovation between businesses and universities in the UK. The purpose of KTPs is to realise positive transformational change and growth within industries and economy.

More and more companies are discovering that with a little help from schemes such as KTP, they can realise the full potential of R&D opportunities to create innovative products and services that will help their business grow.

Each KTP involves three partners: a company (private, public or charity), a knowledge base (university, higher education facilities, research organisation) and an associate (a recently qualified graduate). The collaboration of each partner in the KTP stimulates creative innovation through the exposure to different talents, markets, technologies, capabilities and skills.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships can provide a variety of different opportunities for collaborative work that might not normally arise. There have been 12,000 hugely diverse and successful KTPs established in the past 40 years – here is an example:

KTP Project Case Study

This successful KTP involved three partners:

  • NATS (formerly National Air Traffic Services) - an air traffic control service enabling 2.4 million flights per annum,
  • the School of Design and Informatics at Abertay University,
  • and KTP associate Phillip Smy.

After meeting at a Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) event, a partnership formed when NATS observed a research presentation on gaming, delivered by academic staff from the university. From there the innovative spark to gamify the training of air traffic controllers was ignited.

On average it takes 15-18 months to train and qualify as an entry level air traffic controller and 2-4 years to qualify as a specialist. A significant amount of learning is required including in-simulation tests - controllers must learn to read air space maps, look for aviation weather patterns, read and speak air traffic control code and understand federal regulations and air space allowances.

Through gamifying air traffic controller training with emerging technologies, NATS aims to make the training process more enjoyable for new students, whilst simultaneously hoping to improve retention and the development of controller’s skills across all performance levels. In collaboration with NATS, Phillip Smy developed a gamified training platform which can be used by the trainee almost anywhere. The premise behind the gamification of air traffic control training is to actively engage the trainee in a (personally) competitive game. The application is currently undergoing rounds of testing on students at the university before testing commences on trainee and qualified controllers.

This partnership, and thousands others like it, was only  possible thanks to the KTP programme and the funding provided by Innovate UK. The project cost is granted in part by Innovate UK who contribute 50-67 % to the academic or research organisation. The business whom the project aids covers the remaining cost, with 33% contributed by SMEs and 50% from large companies. Around 90% of applications for KTPs are approved.

KTP and R&D Tax Credits
ABGI can help you support your KTP and add value to your business through additional Innovation funding programmes such as R&D tax credits or grant funding – helping you further accelerate innovation and business growth.

Using R&D tax relief can make using University expertise to carry out a research project, more affordable. As your company spends money towards a KTP R&D project, you can leverage the benefits of the UK government’s R&D tax relief scheme. This entitles you to a proportional cash refund for your contribution to the research and development performed in the partnership, or a reduction in future corporation tax.

One of several companies who’ve reaped significant rewards from combining a KTP and R&D tax credits is Clyde Space. Commenting on his experiences of working with both, Craig Clark, CEO of the award-winning supplier of small and micro spacecraft systems, says:

We were considered one of the world’s most innovative companies in the field of space sub-systems but we wanted to move up the value chain, building our own satellites. KTP has allowed us to do that, tapping into knowledge and opening doors to all sorts of other activities.

Although we were clearly doing R&D we were being advised by people who didn’t understand the company and didn’t understand the potential. After working with the Innovation Funding Consultants at ABGI we recovered more than £60,000 from HMRC… and are now working with them on further R&D tax credit submissions.

What to do next?
R&D tax relief can be complex and time consuming, but if you choose the most appropriate approach and advisor it can be highly worth your time, but consider your options carefully.

As one of the leading tax incentive and innovation management advisers, our aim is to help clients accelerate and fund their innovations. We operate on the entire value chain of innovation through our multidisciplinary international teams.

For a free R&D tax credit consultation and analysis of the potential returns you might expect from your existing projects, or advice from our Innovation Funding experts about investment in your future projects – contact our team today.