Demand from UK businesses wishing to get new, innovative projects off the ground has almost doubled since last year, according to the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) programme.
Funded by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), KTP supports business innovation by facilitating collaborative partnerships with further- and higher-education institutions.
The programme is said to have received nearly twice the number of applications from businesses in the first part of this financial year compared with 2009/10, with 326 new applications compared with 177 last year.
According to a statement, the findings demonstrate a ‘significant desire’ from businesses to invest in future growth, despite economic uncertainty in the UK.
Head of KTP at the TSB Dr Debbie Buckley-Golder said: ‘This news is extremely encouraging and demonstrates a clear desire from businesses to innovate and grow in the post-recession era.
‘The number of active KTP projects running for between one and three years reached 1,102 during 2009/10 − the largest number ever achieved in the 35-year history of the KTP programme.
‘As a result of the government money committed to KTPs during 2009/10, UK businesses now stand to benefit from increased annual profit before tax of around £150m.’
KTP partnerships support the recruitment of a graduate to undertake a specific needs-based project in a business, helping to transfer the required skills and expertise from an academic institution that acts as the ‘knowledge base’ in support of the project’s implementation. Projects can vary in length from 1 to 3 years and from 10 to 40 weeks, depending on the needs of the business and the desired outcomes.
One business to already see benefits from KTP participation is Canyon Europe in Belfast, which specialises in the design and manufacture of trigger sprays and dispensers.
They cut their manufacturing costs by 16 per cent and boosted turnover from £9.5m to £12m after collaborating with Queen’s University Belfast on a programme of material substitution and the introduction of new technologies to optimise manufacturing processes and reduce waste.