How Knowledge Transfer Partnerships helped us grow

How Knowledge Transfer Partnerships helped us grow

Businesses from across the UK tell us how they have benefited from participating in Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs)…

Teesside-based PSI Global manufactures filters and separators for the compressed air and vacuum industries.

PSI wanted to increase its understanding of flow through vacuum pump systems and how the separators can influence pump performance.

Having worked with Teesside University previously, they decided to approach the University to see what expertise they had in that area.

After talking to the University, they decided to take part in a KTP and were partnered with Nausheen Basha, an MSc (Hons) aerospace engineering graduate, who was placed within the company.

She used the CFD software to construct a Virtual Vacuum Model (VVM) which visualised how different types of separators, used to filter oil from air, affect the flow of gases within a pump.

As a result, PSI Global is now able to respond more effectively to clients’ needs and bring new products to market much quicker.

Lloyd Cochrane, technical manager at PSI Global, said: “The KTP has had an enormous impact on our company.

“Prior to undertaking the KTP we had to rely on physical prototyping and testing on a bespoke testing rig, which was extremely labour, time and cost intensive.

“We now have a system whereby early stage design of new vacuum pump systems can be trialled, improved and validated much earlier than previously possible by modelling the system virtually, prior to prototyping.

“Ultimately this could reduce the development time for new products by as much as 70%.”

Dr Hamad (the KTP Knowledge Base Supervisor from Teesside University) said: “This was an extremely interesting project which I am sure will have huge benefits for PSI Global.

“The findings from the research are already being utilised in teaching our students here at the University.” 

And it’s not just commercial businesses that are eligible for KTP’s either. KTPs are also open to non-profit organisations.

One company in particular to have benefited from a KTP is Scottish Ballet, Scotland’s national dance company and one of five national performing companies in Scotland.

Scottish Ballet produces world-class dance and learning opportunities designed to engage diverse audiences nationally and internationally.

The company does this through presenting modern work and unique interpretations of the classics, making them relevant to audiences today.

However, given the speed of innovation in digital technologies, it can be difficult for arts companies to identify and exploit opportunities, yet this is vital if they are to continue to reach new audiences and widen participation.

This led to the Scottish Ballet participating in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio to explore how digital technology could be used in conjunction with choreography to provide new insights and perspectives on dance for both the company and its audiences.

Using state-of-the-art motion capture cameras, the Digital Design Studio shot footage of two Scottish Ballet dancers as they performed a short-choreographed sequence. They then visualised this data as a ‘vapour trail’ in an HD film of the performance, allowing viewers to fully appreciate the complexity and grace of the dancers’ movement.

Although only a pilot project to test capabilities, the HD film was used as a trailer for Scottish Ballet’s programme as part of the 2013 Edinburgh International Festival, helping to attract and engage new audiences to their performances. Another collaboration with the Digital Design Studio is now underway.

Another business to have benefited from a KTP is award-winning, West Midlands based law firm, Higgs & Sons. The company participated in a KTP with Aston University’s Business School in a bid to implement an innovative programme of change in the culture and operations of the firm. 

Due to unprecedented changes in the legal services sector triggered by recent deregulation, medium-size firms such as Higgs are facing increased competition. In order to develop a sustainable competitive advantage and offer enhanced value-adding services to clients, Higgs wanted to revolutionise its business processes, resourcing models and client communication.

The project helped to facilitate the required organisational change by providing Higgs with the opportunity to examine their current working practices, fully understand their clients’ needs and expectations on service, identify the scope for change in operational systems that underpin efficient service delivery and address the costing and pricing strategies.

The partnership has since resulted in various outcomes such as growth in revenues and profit for the firm, cultural transformation towards embracing innovative practices, an established methodology for managing and delivering change within a law firm and a number of academic and trade publications presented at national and international venues.

Higgs’ director of finance and project champion, Glyn Morris, said: “This is an extremely exciting project for Higgs. We have been able to uncover insights that will change the way every lawyer thinks about price and service.

“Working with Aston University has enabled us to access a range of expertise to develop a new approach to our business model helping us to become sustainable in the workplace and remain ahead in a competitive market.”

Dr Ben Clegg from Aston Business School and academic lead on the project said of the KTP: “Aston Business School was delighted to work with the Higgs team on this project. It has allowed us to show that theory can work in practice to help organisations prosper at times of change and uncertainty.”