What a year!

As 2019 slowly drifts to an end, we can fondly reflect back on a fantastic year full of wonderful successes not just for us, but also for the University of Reading and all the incredible people and organisations we have been lucky enough to collaborate with over the course of the last 12 months.

We’ve had lots of incredible highlights throughout 2019, and one of the main ones was the expansion of our team. We carefully hire people who will thrivingly integrate within our KTC family and who share our mentality of bringing excellent service and expertise of the highest calibre to those we work with.

We have welcomed three new members to the family this year:

  • Chrissy Boulton joined us initially as a temporary member of staff for the GradSpire student recruitment scheme back in March, but in doing such a fantastic job she stayed with the KTC and is now our Commercial Project Development Manager, working closely with the Commercial Director and other departments on exciting new projects and collaborations across the University.
  • Clare Stratford joined us having previously been part of another team at the Thames Valley Science Park. Bringing a huge breadth of knowledge and a very positive energy to our team, Clare is now our Business Networks & Projects Coordinator.
  • And last but not least, Marianna Spanoyannis joined us in October as our KTC Project Administrator. Marianna oversees administrative support for all the Knowledge Transfer Centre’s projects and external collaborations, and has brought a passionate and energetic atmosphere to the business support team.

Unfortunately we also had to say goodbye to our former KTC Administrator, Diana Reynell, who left us in August. After 13 years as a valued and much loved part of the family we were sad to see her leave but wish her every success and happiness in her future endeavors.

Some other activities we’re elated to shout about are all the collaborations we’ve continued with or freshly established over the course of the year. Not only are we still taking on some fantastic Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, with some new ones already in motion and others to start in the new year, but we have also brought various non-KTP projects to the table. This has included (but is not limited to) the really interesting collaboration with the environmentally minded Eco-Insect (you can watch their case study here), and US-based media streaming company WorldCast Live (you can also watch their case study here). One of our partners, Aircharge, with whom we had a project to develop their wireless charging technology, featured on Sky News back in February, which was a fantastic achievement for them, and we felt very proud to see them getting exposure for their hard work. We have stayed true to our promise of working with all different types of people, companies, and not-for-profit organisations, and have taken pleasure in learning all about the amazing research being conducted all around the country.

Additionally, we have taken part in some great competitions this year, including the YES (Young Entrepreneur Scheme) with University of Nottingham which celebrates the entrepreneurs of the future and raises awareness among postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers of how ideas from science and engineering can be commercialised. We are heavily involved with this competition every year, and although no University of Reading teams made the final this year (a shame considering we won it last year!), we will continue to support this fantastic scheme in 2020. The ‘just imagine if…’ competition created by Ella’s Kitchen founder Paul Lindley was also a huge success and something we were hugely involved with, and will continue to be part of when the University of Durham host next year. Having helped Ella’s Kitchen get off the ground and become the huge success it is today, it was truly brilliant to be able to work with Paul in creating such a large-scale competition as this, helping bring people’s ideas of making the world a better place come to life.

We have enjoyed many successes and worked with some incredible people in 2019, and with that we’re extremely excited to see what 2020 will bring. Thank you to all those we have collaborated with or who have helped us in making 2019 the fruitful year it was, but for now all that’s left to say is that we wish everyone a wonderful Christmas break, and here’s to a prosperous new year!

With warmest regards

The Knowledge Transfer Centre at University of Reading

Our newest team member

It is with great pleasure that we can announce the arrival of our newest team member, Marianna Spanoyannis.

Marianna has joined us as our new KTC Project Administrator and will be overseeing the administrative support for all our projects and external collaborations. She has hit the ground running, and has already established herself as an integral cog in the KTC machine.

The KTC continues to build on our team in order to offer better support to our collaborators, both existing and in the future. We strive to give everyone we work with an exceptional experience, and welcome enquiries about how we may be able to collaborate with other businesses, academics, organisations and individuals to support with growth and expansion. Marianna is the latest team member to take on our promise of exceptional service.

Welcome Marianna!

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**