Our team has expanded…again!

As an ever-expanding department, we are excited to welcome our newest member of the team; Chrissy Boulton.

Chrissy has joined us as a Graduate Scheme Development Coordinator, supporting the development of an innovative new graduate programme scheme being piloted by the University of Reading, which will be aimed at supporting companies within Reading and the Thames Valley. The scheme is being developed and delivered in collaboration with our partners at Hireserve, a locally based SME and a company we have formerly collaborated with in the Knowledge Transfer Centre.

Chrissy will play an essential role in supporting development of the pilot, and is a very welcome new member to the KTC family.

And the winner of ‘just IMAGINE if…’ is…

For the past few months we have been working hard alongside Ella’s Kitchen founder Paul Lindley on his exciting idea about ideasjust IMAGINE if…

just IMAGINE if… has had one mission from the beginning: to identify and help develop extraordinary ideas.

Companies, partnerships, not-for-profit organisations or individuals with an extraordinary idea that could help alleviate one of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals but need research input to help it grow were able to apply. After viewing hundreds of excellent entries, the panel narrowed it down to ten amazing finalists.

We were lucky enough to attend the final on Thursday 28th Feb, and listened to amazing talks from the likes of Brompton MD Will Butler-Adams, former Dragon Piers Linney, and Apprentice season 5 winner Yasmina Siadatan to name a few, with the event chaired by the brilliant Seven Hills co-founder Michael Hayman

After enjoying the outstanding pitches from the ten budding entrepreneurs, we are excited to announce that after a vote from all the attendees, the winner is ALEXANDER WANKEL.

Alexander showcased his idea of tapping into Peru’s native crops and helping to support local smallholder farmers, creating plant-based milks made with climate smart Andean grains and quinoa called ‘MilQ’.

We want to extend a HUGE congratulations to Alexander for winning the competition, but we’re confident that all of the finalists will get support in developing their ideas by either a collaboration with us or one of the other incredible businessmen and women who attended the event.

You can see Alexander’s submission video and those of the other nine finalists here.

just IMAGINE if… is to return next year, so keep your eyes open for details on how to apply towards the end of 2019. In the meantime should you have a product or service you need support developing, we welcome anyone to get in touch with the Knowledge Transfer Centre to discuss how we may be able to help you shape your future.

Former partner featured on Sky News (and mentions the KTC!)

The Knowledge Transfer Centre specialises in collaborating with all kinds of people and businesses in order to help create a positive national and global impact. We welcome anyone to get in contact with the KTC and, although we may not always be able to help directly, we are generally able to at least provide some support and guidance.

In many cases we know exactly how we can help, and can work alongside your business with a project that helps develop your product or service. We can source the right Academic support, assist with funding applications, and help bring your product or service to market. An excellent example of this is the partnership we had with Wantage based tech company; Aircharge.

 

Aircharge, or CMS, first came to us in 2015 looking to develop their wireless charging software. We soon established a Knowledge Transfer Partnership which completed in 2018, and Aircharge have continued to grow as a business since then. You can read more about the project here.

The company’s success has drawn inevitable interest from the media, so it was fantastic to see that Sky News invited Aircharge Founder and Chief Executive Steve Liquorish in to talk about the business, who even mentioned the partnership with the University of Reading.

You can watch the full interview right here.

 

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.

Non-KTP Collaborations: WorldCast Live

In the Knowledge Transfer Centre, in addition to Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, a government-funded initiative we are more commonly associated with, we also pride ourselves on non-KTP collaborations, helping bring different people and ideas together for a positive impact.

We work across multiple themes, collaborating with various companies and individuals both within and outside of the University of Reading, continuing to enforce our goal of knowledge exchange. This can be anything from putting someone in touch with the right people, right the way up to full support in the development of a product or service.

One such non-KTP partnership is one we have established with US-based media streaming company, WorldCast Live.

(Left to right: Simon Cutler: Senior Business Relationship Manager at the KTC, Peter Lewis: CEO of WorldCast Live, Jacqueline Benton: Co-Founder/Director of Operations and Planning at WorldCast Live, Ed Cooper: Director at Vital Six, Susan Elliott: Managing Director at Vital Six) 

 

We caught up with Peter Lewis and Jacqueline Benton from WorldCast Live to discuss how working with the KTC and with Reading-based business incubation centre, Innovation Catalyst (https://innovationcatalyst.spaces.nexudus.com/en), has helped them grow their business and build their network.

 

How did you first get in contact with the University of Reading?

I used a search engine to try and found some local help for the business and the University of Reading was one of the first listings. It was both local and had a great reputation, so I got in touch.

 

You’ve worked closely with the KTC in the early stages of contact, can you walk us through the process?

My initial contact resulted in a reply from the KTC almost immediately, soon followed by a meeting in the centre itself. From there, I was given the exact support and guidance I needed for the project to begin developing. They walked me through the entire process from opening a company, identifying and sourcing the support I need, and also pointed me in the direction of Innovation Catalyst.

 

Once you engaged with Innovation Catalyst, how have you benefited from that community, as well as being part of the Barclays Flight Programme?

It has been a fantastic benefit; we were at a point where we were almost fumbling around trying to find out what we needed to do to get a start-up company off the ground, but they were able to guide us and provide invaluable advice to help us move forward. They also connected me with other businesses and Barclays Eagle Lab, which has been so helpful for us not only in advising what we need to do next, but also the pitfalls to avoid. It’s been a really fantastic experience.

 

Being based in New York, what are your global plans for the company moving forward?

What we’ve learned is that working with brands both in the UK and the US exposes you to different ways of working, allowing us to finetune our software, permitting us to be more agile in our approach, and also it means that we can expand faster because we understand the differences in the markets. It has been a great learning experience from beginning to end, and I have journeyed here several times now, learning new things that I am able to pass on to our IT staff which means we can expand into new areas that we wouldn’t have known or thought about should we have not been part of a collaboration.

 

Where does the Academic expertise come in to help with the service you provide as a business?

Because we’re a start-up business, we want to make sure we’re approaching our business plan the right way. We want to ensure we understand the market, we understand the risks, and we understand the technology possibilities and limitations. It also helps us gain an understanding of where does our product fit in the market, how do we compare with competitors, and what do we need to do to grow the business. We have had tremendous support from the university with navigating our way to the next steps.

 

In terms of the relationships you’ve made as a result of working with Innovation Catalyst, are you likely to continue the relationships with the people and businesses you’ve met over the past few months?

Yes it will, and we’ve even made some new business relationships today where we’ve managed to agree other collaborations, so there is a huge benefit to each of these workshops not just with the content and the presentations, but the other attendees.

 

 

You can watch the video of this meeting right here.

If you or your business could benefit from a collaboration with the Knowledge Transfer Centre, contact us today to discuss the many opportunities available to you in more detail.

 

just IMAGINE if…

At the Knowledge Transfer Centre, we firmly believe that people hold the key to resolving some of the world’s most pressing issues with their ideas, a belief communally shared by the entirety of the University of Reading.

We have collaborated with Ella’s Kitchen founder Paul Lindley on various successful projects over the years,  helping get Paul’s ideas for healthier baby food off the ground and building a lasting relationship in the process, but now a brand new and exciting partnership has begun; just IMAGINE if…

just IMAGINE if… has one mission: to identify and help develop extraordinary ideas. Companies, partnerships, not-for-profit organisations or individuals with an extraordinary idea that could help alleviate one of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals but need research input to help it grow can apply.

As the winner of this competition you will be given a unique opportunity to access bespoke research specifically designed to significantly move your idea forward. We will give you access to the right people, the right research, the right facilities, and up to £75,000 to spend on bringing your idea to life.

This INCREDIBLE competition closes Dec 31st, and all you need to do to apply is outline your idea in no more than 1000 words along with a short pitch. That’s it; all that’s standing between you and winning the opportunity to create a positive global impact is a thousand words and a one minute pitch. Seems to go to be true, right? Wrong…!

Find out more and apply 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**

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.

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.