What does it take to run successful KTP partnerships?

Rob Walker, Head of Business Engagement at University of Essex shares his 5 key tips

At Essex, we’re number one in the UK for the number of active Innovate UK funded Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) with 40 currently up and running, worth over £10m.


We topped the table for the first time in October 2021, but this has been the culmination of several years of hard work from many across the University including our academics, Business Engagement team and other professional service teams.


We’ve learnt many lessons along the way to becoming a partner of choice for many businesses looking to innovate across the country. Here are 5 key things we’ve learnt over the years from the 55 KTPs we’ve completed to date:



Make the process as easy as possible for the Business, the University and the academics from start to finish.

We make sure all our KTPs receive dedicated support from University’s Business Engagement team. We help guide businesses through the entire KTP process from beginning to end aiming to remove as many pain points as we possibly can. Our hands-on team are there all way to make sure the partnership keeps momentum, remains focused on the business goals and achieves results.


As Steve Corbett from Cloudfm said: “Essex’s academic capabilities and KTP support are excellent. I recommend them and the Innovate UK KTP route for any company serious about R&D.”  This is how we want everyone to feel when working with us.



Help everyone involved in the KTP deliver to their strengths.

Over the years we’ve invested in and grown our dedicated KTP team to take on much of the admin when it comes to setting up and running a KTP. This leaves the business and academic teams free to focus on innovating with their ground breaking-research and delivering a successful partnership.


We’re there to support the application process, to run the KTP Associate recruitment, then we help our academics with finance management and work with them all the way through to the final report. Dedicate people and time to make sure every project is as collaborative as possible.


Essex academic Professor Tracy Lawson, who recently completed a KTP in collaboration with ADC BioScientific, puts it best when she said: “I would strongly encourage anyone interested in doing a KTP to get in touch with our KTP team at Essex. They’re absolutely brilliant for helping you to set the grant up, or to apply for the grant, then also managing it afterwards.”



KTP Associate roles can kickstart a graduate’s career.

We often recruit Essex Graduate talent for our KTP Associate roles within businesses. It gives our graduates the opportunity to bridge the gap between academic research and applying their expertise to provide solutions for real-world business challenges. Many of our graduates working as KTP Associates have been hired by the company for a permanent position after the KTP programme has ended, or even before.


Essex Graduate and former KTP Associate James Madge was recently honoured with a Future Leaders Award for his ground-breaking AI work at investment firm Prequin. James, who now has a full-time job at the company as VP Data Scientist said: “Winning a Future Leaders Award at the KTP Awards is a great personal achievement for me, which underlines the impact I managed to achieve during the three years of the KTP project.”



Sometimes existing processes need to evolve and new ones need to be made.

We’ve worked hard with departments and teams across the University of Essex to evolve or make bespoke new processes for KTP projects to be delivered successfully and smoothly. Being the linchpin between the academics and businesses means we work to translate needs and requirements of both so everyone is heading in the right direction. Key to making this happen is working with teams so they are open to change and know the full benefits of being involved in the opportunity.



Be your own biggest cheerleaders and share your successes, both internally and externally.

Having dedicated business development managers, working alongside marketing and communication experts in the team means we can easily share our success stories. Being our biggest cheerleaders, they drive awareness for everything we can offer and the successes we achieve, which in turn brings in new opportunities.


This applies both externally and internally. We make sure our University departments truly understand the benefits of participating in KTPs, which means our academics are excited to apply their cutting-edge research to create new products, processes and services when the KTP opportunities come in.


One final bonus piece of advice. Over the years, our path has been guided by our valuable Knowledge Transfer Advisors from Innovate UK – work with them closely as often as you can! From the early days when Jan Stringer helped us truly understand what makes a great KTP, their knowledge and guidance has help us achieve everything we have today.  


Find out more about our KTP offering at Essex by visiting www.essex.ac.uk/KTP