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.

Collaboration Benefits for Academics: In conversation with Prof. Rachel McCrindle

How can Academics benefit from getting involved in KTC projects?

We caught up with Professor of Computer & Human Interaction Rachel McCrindle to talk awards, awards, research, promotions , and the importance of collaboration.

 

What are the key benefits of working with the KTC in enabling collaboration with partners?

There are many benefits of working with the KTC in enabling collaboration with partners, right the way through from the initiation of contacts and helping to prepare proposals, to helping manage projects and promote and market them once they are underway.

What’s your motivation behind working with external partners?

It’s really important these days to work with external partners. Many projects are multi-disciplinary and in doing those multi-disciplinary projects including multiple stakeholders it brings in various levels and areas of expertise in order to solve key strategic issues.

Has the KTC enabled you to work with companies that you might not otherwise have found / been interested in?

The knowledge Transfer Centre has been incredibly important in terms of delivering external partnerships, so very often external organisations have gone to the KTC with a problem that needs solving. The expertise they possess means they can find the right Academic, whether that be me or whoever, so that we can work on a solution to that issue and progress with a project.

What impacts and benefits have arisen / will arise as a result of the collaboration?

The benefits arising from collaborations with external partners are many; partly it’s about a two-way transfer of knowledge, it’s about working on key strategic problems with a real-world impact, and it’s about translating research into the real world.

A concern for Academics has previously been raised in that they are not sure if they can still publish when part of KTP. Could you please share your experiences on this?

It has been raised at times that it’s difficult to publish; it is possible to do, but it is a slightly different process. For instance, a lot of the material will be commercially confidential and therefore can’t be shared, but by working with the external organisation and discussing this with industry it is still possible to publish in partnership with the company and make sure the work that’s published is ok to be released. So, in answer to your question, it can be slightly more difficult, but it is possible, and you will be offered the right support to know how to go about getting your research out there.

How do you go about prioritising your workload when part of a project?

Prioritisation of workload is always going to be a challenge for Academics within a university; there are many different pools between research and teaching enterprises and projects both internal and external. I think the key is being organised and carefully managing your time to ensure you’re keeping on top of your workload model, which is something that comes with experience. There is a strong element of scheduling and projection to see what’s coming up and what the key projects will be to ensure that you diarise them accordingly and attempt to conduct them in an efficient, sensible order. Also trying to schedule your time to have a day where you’re free of teaching can really be beneficial when taking part in a project, as you then have a day free to visit the company and spend some time with them. Communication is a key factor with the company to make sure everyone is on the same page, and that is just as important internally as it is externally.

Have the collaborations you’ve been involved in influenced your research at all? Have they opened up new areas of research interest?

Working with the Knowledge Transfer Centre has been incredibly important in terms of expanding my research. My key research areas have perhaps not changed too much, but the domains in which I have applied that research has expanded enormously. I have worked with education companies, broadcasting companies, manufacturing companies, health companies: a huge number of organisations across the whole spectrum who have been both incredibly interesting and state of the art. It’s hugely rewarding to see the work that we’ve been doing within the University being applied in the ‘real world’.

What are the key challenges to be mindful of when working with companies? How did you overcome them?

With any of the challenges we face when part of a collaboration it’s important to remember that everyone has different priorities, different pressures, and occasionally different languages in terms of Academia vs. industry. The key thing is to be very mindful on both sides that there are often competing priorities for people’s time, and that those priorities are completely subject to change quite rapidly, so there needs to be a degree of flexibility and understanding. I think most importantly the key thing is to establish a strong team ethic and determine how the team can best work together. I’ve been involved with many projects now and every project and every team are slightly different, but at the centre of it all communication is the key, so providing a high standard of communication and trust with each partner should help overcome any challenges. It’s also important to remember to have fun; the biggest challenge is the project itself and trying to find a solution to a problem, so you have to step back sometimes and enjoy the work you’re doing and the impact it’s ultimately going to have.

Have the projects you’ve been involved with helped you develop any specific teaching materials, or realise any teaching and learning benefits?

Working with industry and external organisations has been incredibly useful for developing additional teaching material and enhancing the student experience. There are many ways in which our collaborators have helped us with this, including enabling us to develop case studies of the work that we’ve done, and reinforcing the research that we’re carrying out at the University of Reading to show how that it’s applicable in the real world, enriching lectures with examples. On occasion the projects that I’ve been involved with have resulted in the company physically coming in and giving a lecture, or running and sponsoring hackathons for the students, giving them some extra experience outside of the classroom. Working with the Knowledge Transfer Centre and taking part in projects has been a richly rewarding experience throughout for myself and my students.

How has the KTC been able to help you?

There have been many ways in which the KTC at the University of Reading has helped me individually. They have helped me find external collaborators, put proposals together, and they have helped me structure strong and effective teams. Many of the projects have been multi-disciplinary so the KTC have been able to bring other people from around the University to the team that I may not have known about or had access to. The KTC have also been able to help me with the whole recruitment process, they have helped me get the right Associate/staff on board, and they’ve also helped me with the accounting process so that I can concentrate on the project and the research side of things. Working with the KTC has also vastly increased my visibility within the University, and in  having done that has helped me with my promotion to Professor and also put me in a position to win the awards I been presented with.

And lastly, why should other Academics consider working with the Knowledge Transfer Centre?

I would strongly encourage other Academics to work with the Knowledge Transfer Centre. The opportunities that can be opened up there are amazing, and once the centre knows you and the areas you’re interested in, you are exposed to so many different avenues for your work to be applied, and again working with them helped with my promotion to Professor and the winning of various awards. The KTC staff are so incredibly supportive and showcase such a huge breadth of knowledge, offering great advice and direction, and nothing is ever too much trouble for them. We’re lucky at Reading to have such an excellent Knowledge Transfer Centre; it’s the best centre in the country.

Using maths and engineering to solve problems in food production, biotechnology, resource efficiency, water and sustainability.

**Article pasted in entirety from https://ktn-uk.co.uk**

 

Could your industry challenge be solved with help from researchers in mathematics, statistics, engineering, computer science?

Data science, artificial intelligencemathematical and statistical modelling at multi scale are key strengths of the UK research base, and can be transformational when applied to industrial problems.

Over the last few years KTN has joined forces with academic partners to harness the expertise of the research community and address nominated industry challenges through Mathematical Study Groups with Industry. At the first study group in January 2017, held in partnership with the University of Bath’s Institute for Mathematical Innovation (IMI), 40 mathematicians, engineers and computer scientists spent three days working on challenges that included improving cocoa yields for the chocolate industry, helping farmers to optimise the value of pigs, and refining the design of a hydroponics system for crop production. The following year KTN teamed up with the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences to run another successful study group.

The third study group, taking the theme of Clean and Sustainable Growth, will be held in partnership with the University of Nottingham on 29th April – 1st May 2019. Once again we will bring mathematical science researchers from across the UK to work on a number of industry problems over three intensive workshop days with the aim on producing solutions to industry problems from areas as diverse as agriculture, food productionbiotechnology, resource efficiency, water and sustainability.

 

Pose a challenge to the Clean and Sustainable Growth Study Group.

The call is currently open for companies large and small to indicate their interest in posing a problem to the Study Group. By bringing your challenge in front of the study group you will have a unique opportunity to access to highly qualified researchers, with the potential to get new solutions provided in a written report.

Willie Thomson, Director of Innovent Technology, said of a previous study group:

“Taking part in the study group was a really positive experience. I found it a fun, fascinating process and it certainly has opened my eyes to the opportunities offered by applied mathematics to agriculture.”

If you would like to present a problem to the study group please contact Matt Butchers and Markus Owen detailing your interest and they will then work with you to develop it into a potential problem statement for the Study Group.

 

This Study Group is fully funded by the University of Nottingham Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships programme “Modelling and Analytics for a Sustainable Society” with Support from  Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Network; as such, there is no cost for industry to bring a problem to the Group.

So how does the study group format work?

On day one of the study group the selected representatives from industry will present their problems to the researchers in mathematics, statistics, engineering, computer science and related areas. They will then work together towards practical solutions, and first steps in approaching problems.

The academic participants will benefit from the access to real and novel industry problems, allowing them to expand their research portfolio. They also gain from this vital contact with industry and from meeting and working alongside academics from different research areas.

At this stage, the call is for companies to send problems to us – registration details for participants will be available soon.

For further information please contact Matt Butchers, Knowledge Transfer Manager, Industrial Mathematics.

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**

New Partnership between University of Reading and Red Whale!

In the Knowledge Transfer Centre at the University of Reading, we are continually looking to collaborate with exciting, innovative, local businesses in order to help create a positive global impact. We are therefore extremely delighted to announce our latest Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Red Whale, a company based right alongside us on the UoR campus. Red Whale are one of the leading providers of primary care medical education in the UK who specialise in producing evidence-based courses relevant to everyday practice, full of action points for delegates to take away and implement.
 
The project will see Red Whale working with three departments at the University of Reading; Computer Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, and the Institute of Education, in order to develop  a new medical education delivery method utilising an online platform, all the while meeting Red Whale’s core values of being relevant, challenging and fun.
 
We are extremely excited about our latest KTP and what the future will bring with this exciting partnership.
 
KTP or Knowledge Transfer Partnerships is Europe’s leading programme to help bridge the gap between industry and academia. The initiative helps businesses improve their competitiveness by enabling companies to work with higher education or research and technology organisations to obtain knowledge, technology or skills which they consider to be of strategic competitive importance. The  UK-wide programme is overseen by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, and supported by 16 other public sector funding organisations.
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. 

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.

Extra KTP Funding References Success of UoR’s Partnership with Ella’s Kitchen

On November 9th, Innovate UK announced an additional £30million of funding for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs); a government backed scheme which connects businesses across the UK with an academic or research organisation (such as a university), along with a qualified graduate.

There are currently 630 graduates and post-doctoral researchers employed in KTPs branching across industrial research and development and entrepreneurial roles, and the additional funding means this will be able to expand significantly.

The announcement referenced the success story of Ella’s Kitchen; a multi-national baby food company who have had three projects with University of Reading, and maintain an ongoing relationship with the Knowledge Transfer Centre and UoR Academics.

The announcement of additional funding is an extremely exciting one, and even more so with a mention of the successful projects of University of Reading.

The full announcement can be read here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/30-million-for-business-and-graduate-partnerships

 

Knowledge Transfer Partnership with local energy monitoring company

At the University of Reading, we’re always excited to work with local companies and to have the opportunity to apply our research in a way which adds real value to the world around us. Accordingly, we’re very pleased to announce our latest Knowledge Transfer Partnership with local energy monitoring company Optimal Monitoring. Optimal Monitoring work with small and medium-sized businesses and organisations to help them better understand their energy consumption and identify ways in which they could reduce their usage, thus reducing their environmental impact and costs.

Our new collaborative Knowledge Transfer Partnership will enable Optimal Monitoring to work with the University to develop an enhanced monitoring system, capable of better identifying unwanted utility usage as well as proposing solutions to exceptional consumption to help with further cost reductions. We’re very much looking forward to working with Optimal Monitoring on this project and are excited to see how the new system will help them add real value for their customers.

KTP or Knowledge Transfer Partnerships is Europe’s leading programme helping businesses to improve their competitiveness by enabling companies to work with higher education or research and technology organisations to obtain knowledge, technology or skills which they consider to be of strategic competitive importance. The  UK-wide programme is overseen by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, and supported by 16 other public sector funding organisations.