In conversation with Paul Cartwright of EcoInsect

Earlier in 2019 Paul Cartwright got in contact with the Knowledge Transfer Centre looking for support with his prototype. Since then, and with the help if the KTC, Paul has both applied for and been awarded an Innovate UK Smart Grant and got his company EcoInsect to the next step.

We caught up with Paul to discuss his experience:

How did you hear about the Knowledge Transfer Centre?

As a start-up, EcoInsect is currently in the R&D phase; we’re designing an automated prototype production facility to breed and grow insect larvae. We’re focussing on two core product lines and so we were looking for potential collaborators to help us trial and validate our products prior to commercial launch. In my search for universities with a strong biosciences department, I came across the University of Reading and in reading more about the establishment it quickly became clear that Reading had the expertise we needed.

How was your original contact managed? Did it meet your expectations?

I was immediately introduced to a member of the Knowledge Transfer Centre team, and within two weeks I had been introduced to two Academics specialising in animal diets and gut health. All three of them expressed a strong interest in the project and we’ve been really fortunate to have such great support from the get go. I was not previously aware of the collaboration avenues available to businesses like ours, but we were provided with all the information we needed to work with the university and our options were clearly outlined.

Can you talk us through your experience of the process?

The process has been both helpful and really beneficial. After a series of initial meetings, we were able to match various resources together and were then offered their full support in the application process to Innovate UK.

Did you feel supported during the application?

We have felt very supported during the entire process. The KTC have facilitated all the meetings and we have benefited tremendously from the fact that they have previous experience with submitting Innovate UK applications. The Academics offered invaluable guidance on developing our research and getting the best outcome in validating our products.

Did you encounter any challenges? If so, how did you overcome them?

Start-ups face a lot of challenges, and we are no exception, however these challenges provide invaluable lessons in evolving the business. Our main challenge in this process has been the fact that our first application to Innovate UK was not successful. However, after review of the Innovate UK feedback and encouragement of the team we felt it was worth giving it another go. Innovate UK rules only allow for one opportunity to re-apply for the grant so it was a risk for us, but fortunately with the right support and expertise we were successful on our second application.

Would you recommend getting in touch with the KTC to other companies?

I would certainly encourage other companies to use this resource. In my case my expertise is not in research, and being a new sector, research is key to the evolution of the business, and without the expertise and support from the team I’ve been lucky enough to work with it’s very unlikely that we would have been successful, and it’s been key to our business.

How does working with the KTC compare to any other mechanisms you may have explored?

We did have the option to go to through another consultant firm who offered to draft the application on our behalf. Aside from the cost, something just didn’t feel right, and we really didn’t see any increase in benefit that was not already provided to us by the KTC, so we felt there was no need to work with any other resources. Innovate Smart Grants are extremely competitive.

How confident did you feel it was going to go through? How were your expectations managed?

We believe what we’re doing has the potential to revolutionise various sectors and markets, so we were confident in our business case. It was daunting to compete in such an open contest across multiple sectors, but with the support and the encouragement we received from the KTC we had the confidence to go for it and I’m glad that we did.

How excited are you for the next steps, and how are you preparing for them?

The next 18 months are going to be a huge challenge but we’re really looking forward to the next steps and continuing our partnership with the Knowledge Transfer Centre. We’re working hard on the research areas in the hope that we can expand to commercial scale in 2021.

Do you feel that you would have got to where you are today without the support of the KTC?

We strongly feel that without the support and the expertise made available to us by the Knowledge Transfer Centre in a very competitive market for the Innovate UK grant, that we probably wouldn’t have been successful. Without a successful application, we wouldn’t have been able to launch our business, so for us it’s been a huge win and we’re very glad that we were lucky enough to find and link up with the KTC team.

 

We filmed this interview, which you can watch here.

A PDF of this interview is available on our website here.

You can read more about how the Knowledge Transfer Centre can help you and/or your business growth on our website: www.reading.ac.uk/ktc.

 

The YES Competition 2019

YES, or the Young Entrepreneurs Scheme, s an innovative global competition developed to raise awareness among postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers of how ideas from science and engineering can be commercialised.

Founded by the University of Nottingham, YES has an alumni of over 5000, and stages a competition whereby postgraduate students & postdoctoral researchers prepare a business plan for a hypothetical company. Designed to deliver business awareness and an understanding of entrepreneurship, the YES competition is an excellent opportunity for students to be exposed to the commercial world and have the chance to attend the final in London’s Royal Society.

You can watch our video covering the 2018 final here.

You can also find out more about the competition and how you can get involved here.

YES is organised jointly by The University of Nottingham’s Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship(HGI), the  Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Could a passionate Graduate help with your company’s growth?

Do you think of yourself as a high-growth SME? Could a passionate graduate seeking an enriching role support your growth?

Be a leading organisation as we launch an exciting new graduate scheme!

With the growing number of SMEs in the Thames Valley region, the University of Reading‘s Knowledge Transfer Centre is developing an innovative graduate scheme to support SMEs in attracting talented graduates.

 

This new graduate scheme aims to give you:

Increased visibility to attract and hire graduates

The Tool to hire recruit the best suited graduate

Access to talented graduates all year round to best suit your business needs

 

You can help us shape this innovative graduate scheme designed to benefit your business and other local SMEs. Your views and ideas are critical to ensuring we design the best and most impactful scheme possible for SMEs such as yours.

Please join Chrissy Boulton from 8:30-10:30am Tues 14th May 2019 at Innovation Catalyst, Thames Valley Science Park, Shinfield, RG2 9LH.

Breakfast/drinks will be provided, and attending means you’ll be first in the queue for membership of the scheme.

There is limited availability, so Please contact Chrissy on to secure your place.

#thamesvalley #recruitment #innovation #graduate #business #smes 

Spring has sprung on campus!

Every so often it’s nice just to step away from the screen and take a moment to enjoy your surroundings. Luckily for us, we happen to work on one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, and get to enjoy views like this on our walks.

The University of Reading’s Whiteknights Campus has been recognised as one of Britain’s top green spaces for the eighth year in a row by the Green Flag Awards, with this picture taken in the stunning Harris Gardens.

What a place to work and study!

New Partnership with Lloyds Banking Group

At the Knowledge Transfer Centre, our goal is to provide an easy route into the University for anyone interested in working with us and accessing our research. We provide high-levels of service and support to enable partners to develop collaborations via a range of mechanisms and funding opportunities, and focus on helping companies grow and increase their competitiveness. With this goal in mind, it is our privilege to announce our latest partnership with Lloyds Banking Group. Lloyds Banking Group offer a suite of financial services to customers and businesses in the UK and currently provide home insurance to nearly 3 million customers.

This Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) provides an exciting opportunity to develop tools and models which increase the understanding of insurance risk associated with extreme windstorm and flood events within Lloyds Banking Group’s general insurance division. The project involves Academics from the departments of meteorology and geography and environmental sciences who will work closely with the Associate for the duration of the project.

 

This partnership received financial support from the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) programme . KTP aims to help businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK knowledge base. This successful Knowledge Transfer Partnership project, funded by UK Research and Innovation through Innovate UK, is part of the government’s Industrial Strategy.

If your business has a product or service that could benefit from a KTP, contact us today to discuss the opportunities available to you in more detail.

How a partnership with the KTC helped Ella’s Kitchen, and ‘Thinking Like a Toddler’ with founder Paul Lindley

Award winning British entrepreneur, social campaigner, best-selling author and University of Reading honorary Paul Lindley visited Henley Business School on Whiteknights campus in October earlier this year to provide an excellent lecture on ‘The Huge Power of Thinking Like a Toddler’, echoing his fantastic book he released back in 2017.

Paul spent the hour-long lecture discussing how he believes unlocking our personal potential is not achieved by learning new skills, but by re-discovering old ones – those we all had when we were toddlers. Paul argues that in ‘growing down’ we can be more imaginative, free thinking, playful and self-confident, allowing us to look at our personal, corporate and social challenges in a different, more impactful way.

Paul founded Ella’s Kitchen in 2006 with a mission to improve children’s lives through developing healthy relationships with food. After collaborating with the Knowledge Transfer Centre at University of Reading on three successful Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, and now working on another project, Ella’s Kitchen has become the UK’s largest baby food brand and has sales of over $100M from across 40 countries. As part of the projects, together we have helped tackle the psychology and clinical language of the business, sourcing raw materials without compromising quality, and packaging; all helping the company grow into the incredible success it is today.

The relationship between Ella’s Kitchen and the Knowledge Transfer Centre at the University of Reading is a prime example of collaborations that work, and how the smallest idea can turn into a world-changing innovation. Both parties have benefited from this incredible partnership, and it has been a delight to watch the company continue to reach new heights in the market.

 

You can still watch Paul’s lecture here.

You can watch and/or read about the collaboration between Ella’s Kitchen at UoR here.

If you’d like to found out how we can help your business grow, click here.

Bullitt Group Student Design Challenge 2018

 

We are proud to be a department that not only supports businesses with their company growth, but also students with exciting competitions that help prepare them for their careers after University.

One of the annual projects we love helping with is the Bullitt Group Design Challenge, ran by both Bullitt themselves and University of Reading Professor of Computer & Human Interaction, Rachel McCrindle.

 

The challenge is a two-day competition partly at University of Reading and partly at Bullitt Group’s stunning offices in Reading centre, during which the teams have to create, illustrate, and then pitch their ideas on identifying problems with Cat phones and offering a solution. The students get the opportunity to put together a business proposal along with their marketing and financing strategies, and present their innovations to senior members of Bullitt Group’s management team.

 

Benefit for the students, and for Bullitt:

Encouraging the students to work as team, collate thorough research, and compress their work into a 3-minute presentation to the senior members of Bullitt Group staff in a short time frame helps the students develop a wide variety of skills, and is a fantastic addition to their CVs. It also helps the students with their confidence, teamwork and presentation skills.

Students finding problems and offering different ways in which a solution can be met also allows Bullitt Group to look at own their innovation challenges from a different angle.

 

The challenge is a great example of how Bullitt work closely with local communities, how Rachel McCrindle and the University of Reading work with local businesses, and how the Knowledge Transfer Centre continues its goal to offer support and guidance to companies and students alike.

 

This year’s winning team:

This year’s winners were 1st Year Biomedical Engineering student team, U-matter, for designing an innovative tech solution.

Well done to all involved!

 

Want to know about Bullitt Group? You can check out their website right here.

TVBLEP announce their award winning funding escalator increase to £11.3m!

In 2013, Thames Valley Berkshire LEP invested nearly half its Growing Places Fund to create the TVB Funding Escalator to help local high-growth businesses. Managed by The FSE Group, the Funding Escalator has so far supported 51 companies and invested £8.3million of loans and equity, creating or safeguarding 594 jobs in the LEP area. In addition, £21million of private finance has been leveraged to help companies grow. The funding escalator has supported businesses from a wide range of different sectors, including Tech & Digital, Life Sciences, MedTech, Cultural & Creative and Food & Beverages.

To build on this success, the LEP has committed a further £3million to make the £11.3million an ‘evergreen fund’; and increased both the size of loans available up to £300,000 and the period up to 5 years. The increased scale of the fund will mean that it is self-sustaining so that it can continue to support SMEs in Berkshire in perpetuity. This represents a significant investment for the LEP and reinforces its determination to support SMEs in the area, from any sector, that want to grow and create wealth locally.

Robin Barnes, Programme Lead for Enterprise, Innovation & Business Growth at Thames Valley Berkshire LEP says: “We created the first funding escalator in the UK with the aim to transform the way businesses can grow by creating an enduring legacy of business investment, innovation and growth in our sub region. This increased capacity and evergreen status is a real game changer and I would encourage ambitious businesses to get in touch with The FSE Group.”

Chief Executive of The FSE Group, Dean Mayer, adds: “We are delighted to continue our close working relationship with Thames Valley Berkshire LEP. The Funding Escalator is here to help support businesses looking to grow substantially in Berkshire, and we are extremely proud of our achievements over the last 5 years. This new injection of £3million allows us to press ahead in reaching even more innovative and high-quality businesses in the area.”

 

**All text courtesy of TVBLEP on http://www.thamesvalleyberkshire.co.uk/news?id=69**

JOB ALERT! Excellent opportunity for a Digital Content Executive with Red Whale

Our new partnership with Red Whale has generated an exciting opportunity for a Digital Content Executive to join their team in Reading.

The 24-month fixed term contract role of the Digital Content Executive will be to develop a state-of-the-art, engaging and highly effective online teaching provision, innovative course content and assessment methods to compliment the current face-to-face offering delivered by Red Whale, and transform the business into an online operation.

In addition to an excellent £30,000pa salary (depending on qualifications and experience), the successful candidate will also benefit from an additional £2,000pa dedicated training budget specifically tailored to your own personal development.

Candidates need to submit an application by May 13th with interviews taking play May 29th, and the role to commence in June.

If you have questions about this or other KTP vacancies contact:
T: 0118 378 6142 E: ktpjobs@reading.ac.uk

Or you can apply now right here: https://bit.ly/2EESu68

Pioneering Aviator Polly Vacher visits the University campus on International Women’s Week!

Back in August 2017 we shared our good news story about how the Systems and Engineering Building at University of Reading (the permanent home of the Knowledge Transfer Centre) was renamed in honour of the inspirational Polly Vacher MBE (you can still read the story here: https://goo.gl/4kjqVj).

On Monday 5th March 2018, Mrs Vacher provided staff and students with an incredible lecture at Whiteknights campus, where she was interviewed by the Vice-Chancellor, Sir David Bell. This special event was in memory of Edith Morley, the lecture itself taking place in the Edith Morley Building. Edith was believed to be the first woman to be awarded the title professor in an English university, and was an inspiring and motivating force for the young people around her. Over 100 years on, we were honoured to celebrate this extraordinary part of our heritage and welcome Polly to help inspire young women to achieve great things today.

Prior to her amazing talk, Mrs Vacher enjoyed a guided tour of the University campus, and we felt incredibly privileged for her to have visited the building named after her, and meet us all in the KTC!

Polly Vacher MBE is a true inspiration to the young women of University of Reading, and was the perfect person to have visited us on the week of International Women’s Day.