Shorter KTPs aim for 'quick wins' for all sides

August 20, 2009

A shorter and, it is hoped, more palatable version of knowledge- transfer partnerships (KTPs) has been launched in a bid to get more businesses and academics involved.

The KTP programme was launched 35 years ago as a way to link scholars with firms to work on specific projects.

Until now, this has required a significant commitment from both parties, with projects typically lasting between one and three years.

Now, the Technology Strategy Board, one of the programme's major funders, has launched shorter partnerships that are designed to last for between ten and 40 weeks.

The projects have already been piloted and are now being rolled out nationally.

Roy Lewis, director of training and enterprise at Swansea's Gorseinon College, which led one of the pilots, said that in the past, the length of the programmes had put off some potential participants.

"With the economy in the state it is, a lot of companies tend not to engage with three-year programmes. They much prefer to look at (shorter) programmes, so this change has opened up a greater number of firms to KTPs.

"Sometimes it is also difficult for an academic to give up the time to develop these longer programmes. From their perspective, ten weeks is a bit less of an overhead, so we are finding we can interest them."

He said the ten-week structure meant that KTPs could now offer "quick wins" to businesses and academics.

Firms are now using scholars to help with particular projects, "addressing an immediate requirement", such as drawing up a marketing strategy, he added.

Pete Munday, programme manager of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, the organisation that oversees the approach, agreed.

"Organisations for which the classical one-to-three-year KTP project is not appropriate will now have the opportunity to undertake shorter projects, helping them to address tactical business issues and form effective relationships with the academic community," he said.

"It will also help smaller organisations identify areas where innovation can flourish and grow, which will prove vitally important for sustainability within a challenging economic climate."

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