Innovate UK, the country’s innovation agency, has announced an extra £30m of available funding for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs).
KTP partnerships connect British businesses with an academic or research institution, and a qualified graduate in a relevant field, to work with them on innovation projects.
The aim of the KTP programme is to help businesses innovate and grow, and it is hoped the additional support will help the programme expand significantly.
There are currently 630 graduates and post-doctoral researchers employed in KTP partnerships, mainly in industrial research and development and entrepreneurial roles.
With additional funding, it is hoped the programme will continue to build a strong pipeline of highly-skilled UK research talent.
At Innovate UK’s annual conference, taking place in Birmingham on 8 and 9 November, the government announced that the National Productivity Investment Fund will provide the additional £30m in KTP funding.
In a statement, chief executive if Innovate UK, Ruth McKernan, threw her weight behind KTP partnerships and the need for greater support. She said: “There are many innovative companies, particularly SMEs, which could benefit from the academic mentoring that a KTP provides.
“The current tried-and-tested model is widely recognised – and proven over 40 years of operation – for its excellence in stimulating innovation and producing successful outcomes.
“Companies that have used KTPs know their development value in bringing in excellent staff with cutting-edge academic knowledge.”
Noteworthy British businesses that have previously taken part in the government’s KTP programme include Sainsbury’s, Unilever, Rolls-Royce, Dyson, Jaguar and Land Rover.
However, it is mostly smaller business that make up the majority (roughly 80 per cent) of KTP partnerships. One noteworthy startup to have taken part in three separate schemes via the programme is UK baby food brand Ella’s Kitchen.
Welcoming the announcement, science minister Jo 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.”
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