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.


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.