An introduction to Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (Innovate UK)

3rd January 2023

Funded Project:
Methods for Change Phase 2

Written by:

Dr Temidayo Eseonu
(on behalf of the M4C team)

The Methods for Change (M4C) team delivered a session organised by Dr Temidayo Eseonu on Innovate UK funding, in particular, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) that link businesses, academics, and inspiring graduates and post-graduates. KTPs are typically used to support the application of innovative social science research and methods beyond academia. The session outlined for social scientists and collaborating organisations how Innovate UK funding may support their research, innovation and knowledge exchange agendas. In recent years, Innovate UK’s funding has been increasing, it is therefore timely for social sciences and humanities researchers to start to consider Innovate UK funding such as KTPs to support the development of impact from research

Session Overview

Dr Ali Browne (Principal Investigator, M4C, University of Manchester) opened up the session with an introduction to the Aspect network and provided updates on Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Methods for Change project. Joanne Summers (Knowledge Exchange Manager, University of Manchester) talked about opportunities for knowledge exchange available to social science and humanities researchers highlighting how knowledge exchange differs from consultancy or contract research. There are different types of KTPs and they offer one route through which knowledge exchange between academic researchers and non-academic organisations can take place. KTPs typically aim to deliver improvements to existing products or services, support the development of novel products and systems. KTPs can also be used to create frameworks or new ways of working to improve productivity and upskill staff. Ultimately, KTPs seek to deliver economic or social impact for non-academic organisations. Participants then had the opportunity to hear about the opportunities and challenges of ongoing KTPs from an academic’s perspective, Dr Andy Hardman, (University of Manchester) and from a partnering organisation’s perspective, Rob Lawson (Artesia Consulting). Following the showcase of KTPs, Geraint Jones (Knowledge Transfer Adviser, Innovate UK) provided some top tips when applying for KTPs. The session ended with an opportunity for participants to ask questions about KTPs.

Case Studies

Rob Lawson (Artesia Consulting) talked about the Water and Peak Demand KTP. This is a partnership between the University of Manchester and Artesia Consulting to offer new ways of understanding the practices, habits and behaviours that drive consumer demand for water and enable the water industry to influence these more effectively than they can at present.

Dr Andy Hardman (University of Manchester) presented the Producing dialogues at Port Sunlight KTP in partnership with Port Sunlight Trust. The KTP will develop interpretation and engagement pilot projects on-site and online relating to reputation of the village’s founder, William Lever, and exploitation of Congolese workers for Lever Brothers in the twentieth century. The Port Sunlight Trust KTP is part of an ongoing research collaboration with National Museums Liverpool and Unilever.

Top tips

All speakers shared useful tips when thinking about whether KTPs are an appropriate route for social sciences and humanities research and development of research impact. These include:

  • KTPs are appropriate for social sciences and humanities research where the focus is on the application and adoption of knowledge, research outputs and expertise in businesses and third sector organisations.
  • KTP applications should focus primarily on economic impact, however, projects that also demonstrate a range of social and environmental impacts are also encouraged.
  • KTPs require long-term strategic planning to ensure sustainability of the knowledge transfer, therefore, it is not about immediate capacity building.
  • KTPs are useful for organisations (private and third sector) that are seeking expertise to develop innovative solutions to the challenges they face.
  • When applying for a KTP, it is important to
    • focus on the impact the knowledge transfer will have
    • tell the story – engage emotionally as well as intellectually
    • create a vision, what will be achieved in 5-7 years? Describe how the proposal will help deliver against that vision
    • position the proposal as key to success – not just an add-on

Useful resources and further information

You can watch the recording of the session below and view the slides here

Here are more examples of KTP projects at partner institutions within the Aspect Network:

If you are interested in exploring KTPs, you can find out more here. You can also contact the Business Engagement and Knowledge Exchange teams or Research Directors in your department/school/faculty or local knowledge transfer advisers who can provide support on KTPs.

Written by: Dr Temidayo Eseonu (on behalf of the M4C team).

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