The work of the Knowledge Transfer Centre

Carol McAnally, Priti Purohit and I recently wrote this blog piece as part of a series about the Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence Programme for the internal university research newsletter, it proved very popular so we wanted to share again here as it has relevance for an external audience and perhaps serves as an update on KTC activities in lieu of a website refresh.

The Knowledge Transfer Centre (KTC) is part of the Commercial Function and supports knowledge exchange (KE), commercialisation and commercial projects at the University. We work with internal and external partners to maximise the socio-economic potential of the University’s property portfolio, academic know-how and research outputs, including intellectual property, to benefit the University and our wider business and community stakeholders.

The University has a strong track record in successful Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) – projects that enable business to access academic expertise and work with a graduate – and made the strategic decision to build on this strong base to maximise the new opportunities arising from the launch of the Industrial Strategy in 2017. The KTC team was expanded, and our purpose is to drive engagement with business, bringing people together and connecting across the University. Specialist roles have been brought in as new posts, including a Business Network and Projects Co-ordinator, and a KTP Co-ordinator, and by bringing in an existing Intellectual Property Manager, to reflect the need for a healthy pipeline of innovation opportunities and focus on commercialisation. Together our team:

  • Provides advice and support for identification, protection and clearance of IP and potential routes for commercialisation.
  • Provides professional KE and commercialisation support for relationship building across academia and business, including stakeholder engagement.
  • Brings people together at both the project level, and as part of a larger network, by understanding the needs of our partners, facilitating discussions to support ideation and knowledge sharing, and driving projects forward.
  • Enables access to a breadth of knowledge, experience and grant-writing skills that enables our partners to access and secure innovation funding. The team raises awareness and disseminates information on public and private sources of funding, sign-posting relevant opportunities. The team can manage the lifecycle of a project from proposal design to post-award project management.
  • Promotes business engagement opportunities to all, and acts as an amplifier for academics when showcasing their knowledge and expertise to a business and wider stakeholder audience.

Knowledge exchange and commercialisation is not an exact science, the role of the team is to add value through supporting innovative ways to overcome barriers and solve practical problems, which often involves working with professionals outside the University. A great example of this is the opportunity to work with the Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence, Prof Bill Kilgallon currently working with the School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy, Bill will bring a different perspective and challenge our current way of thinking, and  will support us to investigate  commercialisation opportunities of key projects and enable the development of a commercialisation roadmap which can be applied more widely.

Other activities and opportunities from the Commercial Function include:

  • Supporting strategic development of the Thames Valley Science Park (TVSP), the University’s business campus, and its role in helping to establish the University as an anchor institution in the region, and further grow the opportunities for knowledge exchange.
  • Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation skills training for academics and students – including an ideas generation training programme (‘pre-accelerator’) to grow the pipeline of projects with the potential for commercialisation and developing a fast-track commercialisation programme that takes ideas towards potential markets (‘accelerator programme’).
  • Business networks – the KTC can help support the growth of more business networks and sharing best practice in managing a business network e.g. TVAI Hub, DTPs, CTPs enabling sharing of ideas, raising awareness of opportunities and raising your profile.
  • Facilitating local growth and regeneration activities, drawing on our deep understanding of the commonalities between business and community engagement in this context.

If you are interested in engaging our support from please contact the KTC.

IDEASFEST 2021

The annual IDEAFEST Student Business Idea Competition is one of the highlights of the year for any students with an interest in some day starting their own business. IDEAFEST is led by Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship as a contest for all students across the University of Reading and Henley Business School, with the goal of finding the student with the best idea for a business – this year from over 20 applications just six student teams have been chosen for the IDEAFEST Final 2021, where they will pitch their business idea to a panel of judges for the chance of winning up to £1,000!

This year’s finalists come from a range of sectors and feature both undergraduate and postgraduate students. The teams are as follows:

– Alva Power, founded by MSc Management student Daniel Rickards. Alva Power is an environmentally focused business that works to repurpose electric vehicle batteries into green energy systems.
– Cheers Beers, founded by BA Business and Management Kam Sharahi. Cheers Beers is a company that works with micro-breweries to deliver craft beer and also offers virtual and in person tasting sessions.
– CryptoBusy, founded by BA Entrepreneurship and Management student Josh Moden. CryptoBusy is a start-up that teaches people how to trade and invest in cryptocurrency.
– MochiPops, founded by MSc Real Estate student Charlotte Beswick. MochiPops is an ice-cream business that specialises in vegan gelato.
– ProppedUp, founded by BA Entrepreneurship student Kevin Hayes. ProppedUp is a real estate start-up that allows customers to invest in shares of buy-to-let student properties without the large capital needed to become a landlord.
– Wardrobe, founded by BA International Management and Business Administration student Nadia Onyeje. Wardrobe is an app that analyses a consumer’s current wardrobe and acts as a personal stylist by recommending clothing and accessories similar to the consumer’s taste.

The IDEAFEST Final takes place on Wednesday 28 April, 2:00pm. It will be held online via Microsoft Teams and all University of Reading and Henley Business School staff, students and alumni are welcome to be part of the audience to hear the business ideas and gain an insight into what goes into pitching for funding. If you wish to be part of the audience on the day, register here.

In addition to the £1,000 prize for first place, the IDEAFEST finalists also have the opportunity to win a further £1,000 for the ‘Best Innovative Business Idea’ category and £3,000 for the ‘Best Business Idea for China’ category, along with professional mentoring from business experts.

If you’re interested in finding out more about IDEAFEST, go to our website.  Dates for IDEAFEST 2022 will be announced in late 2021 and no prior experience is necessary to enter IDEAFEST; all students need is a genuine drive to develop a business idea, so be sure to stay tuned for the chance to make the first steps towards turning your business idea into a reality.

Angel Investment from HBA

Henley Business Angels (HBA) is an angel investment network that operates from Henley Business School at the University of Reading, made up of experienced business leaders, successful entrepreneurs and investors. Henley Business Angels aims to facilitate opportunities for members to invest in and mentor (S)EIS registered early-stage businesses launched by entrepreneurs who are connected to Henley Business School and the University of Reading.

 

In the four years since its establishment in 2016, Henley Business Angels has invested over £1.24 million in companies such as KYMIRA, Kokoon, BeneTalk, Snaffling Pig, OpenBlend, Crypta Labs, and many, many more. One of Henley Business Angels’ most successful investments, KYMIRA, was founded by University of Reading Alumni Tim Brownstone, who said that the quality of companies he pitched alongside was ‘outstanding’, and that the appetite of investors was ‘very high’, which, combined with the organisation’s thorough vetting process, helped encourage his decision to raise through HBA twice.

 

Application Process

Henley Business Angels welcomes applications from entrepreneurs who are raising equity funds typically in the range of £50k to £250k to grow their business, and the support given to the entrepreneurs by the network is not only financial, but also access to mentoring, resources and other services and networks. Henley Business Angels invests smart money, demonstrated through several investors from the group joining their investments as experienced advisors to provide support to elevate the business.

Members of the HBA network are here to support entrepreneurs leading early-stage businesses who are passionate about what they do and have ambitions to build large businesses that deliver better ways of doing things that benefit society and the environment as well as the economy.

               – Jurek Sikorski, Founder and Director of Henley Business Angels

 

Applying to pitch to Henley Business Angels can be done through the online platform Gust, and applications open every quarter. Entrepreneurs must meet a certain set of criteria, including being connected to the University of Reading or Henley Business School. You can find out more about what being connected to the University of Reading and Henley Business School means, as well as the other investment criteria, on their dedicated Entrepreneur pages.

 

About the application process to Henley Business Angels, Founder and CEO of OKKO Health Dr Stephanie Campbell, said that it was ‘incredibly straightforward’ and that just being on the platform allowed multiple other investors to contact her and invest. She also praised the Investment Readiness Workshop put on by HBA, attributing her successful presentation preparation to that event.

 

The Henley Business Angels application process can be comprised into 9 steps and are laid out on their website with more information here. If you have read through all the information on their website, and wish to apply, you can fill in and submit this application form. If you have previously applied to Henley Business Angels, whether you have been successful or not in securing investment, you are welcome to apply again through the same process.

 

You can keep up to date with updates, news and application deadlines by following the Henley Business Angels LinkedIn page, their Twitter page, and by regularly checking their website.

Prof William Kilgallon named as Reading’s first Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence

In January 2021, the School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy (SCFP) welcomed Professor William (Bill) Kilgallon as the University’s first Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR). In this role, Prof Kilgallon will spend one day per week delivering transformation in the commercialisation of research within SCFP and more broadly across the Agriculture, Food and Health research theme.

The EiR scheme is designed to provide our research community with access to world-leading expertise and advice across multiple industry sectors to:

  • expose university staff and students to state-of-the-art industrial research and development, and the scientific challenges faced by industry
  • provide support and expert advice aimed at promoting innovation and the translation of research by universities
  • grow confidence in and understanding of business and entrepreneurship among staff and students

 

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In his role, Prof Kilgallon will:

  • Lead discussion with colleagues across SCFP and broadly across the university, including department seminars to introduce and develop engagement with the scheme
  • Work with our community to develop a greater understanding of how to recognise and manage potential commercial research opportunities.
  • Support entrepreneurial and commercial upskilling of students, academics and professional services staff.
  • Create a model business development system that better defines and accelerates the routes to market for emerging commercial research initiatives, this will have initial impact in SCFP, but working closely with colleagues in Knowledge Transfer Centre the impact will be University-wide.
  • Enable access to his personal network of contacts to better develop collaboration and partnering opportunities with wider stakeholders and institutions.
  • Work with senior leaders and key stakeholders to identify opportunities to enhance Reading’s translational research portfolio
  • Increase the visibility of the UoR within the business world and foster engagement with local industries in the context of business growth and regeneration.

Early in his career Prof Kilgallon completed a post-doc at UCLA where he worked at the interface between the University and local medical diagnostics companies, this led to a 30-year career which has encompassed biotechnology, medical device, and pharmaceutical companies. He has a breadth of practical experience of product development, market launches and economic business planning. This has included the development and commercialisation of routine diagnostic tests, global drug development following the purchase of technology from a small UK biotech company and more recently, business turnaround of a £5M company leading to an exit strategy valued at £80M. Prof Kilgallon has an understanding of the academic environment from both his early career and now as he continues to work closely with Donau University, Austria where he lectures and coaches on their MBA Biotechnology.

Professor William Kilgallon PhD MBA FCIM said:

“It’s a real pleasure and a unique challenge to be the new RS EIR for the University of Reading. I’ve already met a some of the talented people at the university and hopefully I can facilitate a radical transformation in the commercialisation of research and accelerate ideas to market.”

Read more on the Royal Society website

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If you’re interested in getting involved or would like to see how you can collaborate with the Knowledge Transfer Centre, please get in touch.

Lights, camera, ACTION!

Hollywood has a new home, and it’s in the Thames Valley.

University of Reading is in discussions with American film company Blackhall Studios to build a £150m complex in the heart of the Thames Valley. With the proposed compound to be built as nearby-neighbours for the already present Thames Valley Science Park, this exciting new studio will bring a vast array of benefits to the area, including a suggested 3000+ jobs.

“These are exciting proposals that would focus the future of Thames Valley Science Park around key areas of expertise at the University of Reading” – Samantha Foley

The studios are intended to reflect the institutional priorities of supporting excellence and environmental sustainability at University of Reading, and create countless opportunities in the local area.

The next stages will be for the University of Reading to liaise with other stakeholders on how a broader vision may look at Thames Valley Science Park, including these areas of innovation. The University of Reading will submit a response to the Wokingham Borough Council Draft Local Plan in light of this feedback and a review of technical and need considerations.

Any further developments would look to encourage closer engagement with local communities, schools and organisations, as well as students and staff at the University of Reading, providing opportunities for training and careers in a variety of fields of economic importance to the UK economy.

For any questions regarding this new development, please visit the TVSP website.

Digital Donkeys

As our department and our reach continues to grow, we are elated to announce our newest Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Devon-based international charity, The Donkey Sanctuary.

The Donkey Sanctuary and the University of Reading have established a new and exciting relationship to help the Sanctuary tackle some key areas of their business and help them to continue the incredible work they’re doing in Sidmouth. More details about this excellent new partnership will be released in the form of case studies as the project commences.

We are extremely excited to be part of this collaboration and, let’s be honest, getting to spend some time with some very cute animals.

Are you a lover of animals AND technology? Applications for a talented Digital Technology Development Lead to join this project and the donkeys in Sidmouth are still open. You can find out more and apply right here

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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.

The BRAND NEW home of AI in the Thames Valley

We are proud to be part of all our collaborations and work tirelessly with all our partners, helping with their growth, impact and reach. One of the new collaborators we’re extremely excited about working with is the TVAI Hub, the home of AI in the Thames Valley.

The Hub has been created to pull together the incredible community of academics, researchers, technologists, clinicians and business strategists here in the Thames Valley so everyone can learn, network, collaborate, share knowledge, explore and develop business opportunities and partnerships.

Starting in December 2019, they are hosting a series of events, each featuring a highly influential speaker and covering key areas of AI, Machine Learning and Big Data. Members of the community will be able to register and attend these free of charge.

Their aim is to get this area internationally recognised for the talent, skills and expertise that has given rise to its reputation as the ‘UK’s Silicon Valley’, and of course to attract more brilliant people and companies to the beautiful, well connected area that is the Thames Valley.

You can read more about the TVAI Hub right here.

Why choose Reading? Don’t just take our word for it!

Our new(ish) Director…

It is with huge pleasure and enormous congratulations that we announce that our former Head of the Knowledge Transfer Centre, Dr Susan Matos, has now been promoted to Director!

Susan has been at the top of the KTC family for over 14 years and has continued to work tirelessly with stakeholders at all levels across the University of Reading. Her hard work and dedication epitomise what the Knowledge Transfer Centre is all about, enforcing our promise to support and connect people, businesses, and not-for-profit organisations in order to create a positive global impact.

Dr Matos will continue to lead the Knowledge Transfer Centre, supporting a range of collaborative projects with businesses and other external organisations, as well as taking on new and exciting directorial responsibilities in her prosperous new role.

Congratulations Susan!

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!