Knowledge is power

Difficult financial times in recent months have led to a downturn in business and a tougher jobs market.

But the University of Wolverhampton‘s success in the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) initiative is proving to be a recession-buster, helping both business and graduates.

A £24.3 million cash injection is now set to increase its activities even further and help secure a future for firms across the Midlands. Wolverhampton will lead a consortium of 12 regional universities who will work with companies on projects to increase their competitiveness, productivity, performance and ultimately safeguard jobs.

The funding, from Advantage West Midlands, the European Regional Development Fund and the Technology Strategy Board, will enable regional KTPs to increase threefold. It is part of £40 million support to help stimulate and increase levels of innovation in small and medium sized businesses across the West Midlands.

The money is being invested in seven ‘Solutions for Business’ products – the Government’s suite of public funded business support products – which help businesses to develop their innovative capacity. Pat McFadden, Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills and MP for  Wolverhampton South East, believes the investment will make a huge difference to the region and has stressed the importance of links with higher education.

He says: “It brings universities and business together, which is very important in shaping our industrial future.

“To succeed in this hi-tech, low-carbon economy of the future, to drive growth and to secure more high-value jobs in the UK, we need to create the best possible conditions in which UK businesses can thrive; removing barriers to success and offering targeted support to unlock new potential in existing and new technologies.

“Universities and business working together through partnerships such as this can benefit the economy of the West Midlands.”

A KTP serves to meet a core strategic need and to identify innovative solutions to help that business grow. KTP is proven to deliver significant increased profitability for business partners through improved quality and operations, increased sales and access to new markets.

The companies involved benefit from the skills of a graduate who will work on a core project, supported by an academic mentor. They will also have access to all resources available at the university.

The initiative enables companies in the region to remain competitive and gives graduates an opportunity to launch their careers. The benefits of KTPs are clear from the testimonials of participants and the increased profits of the companies involved. Linking academia and business is vital for future success.

Businesses aware of the initiative are starting to look ahead, beyond the challenging economic climate. One construction company has recently taken on a KTP graduate, despite difficult times in the industry, in order to plan to meet the demand once the country starts to come out of the recession.

Already top in the Midlands for the number of KTPs delivered and second nationally, the University of Wolverhampton is ideally placed to drive forward the regional development of the initiative.

The University will take the lead in establishing partnerships, transferring knowledge and building the capabilities of local companies. The consortium will work together in hitting Knowledge Transfer Partnership targets both regionally and nationally. Wolverhampton will also develop and lead a regional marketing campaign to promote the benefits to business of working with their local University.

Marc Fleetham, the University of Wolverhampton’s Regional KTP Manager, is looking forward to building on the successful existing work.

“The award of this contract is a boost to the region’s economy and to the University. The increase in Knowledge Transfer Partnerships from the current position of 70 to over 200 will embed the skills and knowledge of West Midlands universities into companies enabling them to face the challenges ahead due to the current economic downturn.”

Any companies who want to find out more should call: 0800 068 5023.

KTP Factfile

  • KTP is a UK-wide programme which aims to help businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills.
  • The funding announcement means the number of partnerships in the region should treble from 70 to 210 over the next three years.
  • KTPs can vary in length from one to three years (Classic KTP) and from 10-40 weeks (Shorter KTP) depending on the needs of the business and desired outcomes.
  • On average, participating businesses can expect to increase annual profits by  around £227,000 before tax.
  • The University of Wolverhampton currently manages 31 Classic KTPs and seven Shorter KTPs.
  • The KTP Regional Programme is partfunded by Advantage West Midlands, the European Regional Development Fund and the Technology Strategy Board.