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.

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.

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!

A new collaboration with old friends

Two departments at the University of Reading (Computer Science and the KTC) have recently teamed up to complete an Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership with High Wycombe-based tech company Optimal Monitoring.

Optimal Monitoring provide energy management advice to companies and through their recent Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the Knowledge Transfer Centre, have developed a unique AI Energy Management Solution which not only helps businesses identify abnormal and anomalous energy and utility consumption but also suggests solutions to fix the issues. This exciting technology, known as ‘EMMA’, will particularly be of interest to large multi-site companies (such as retail chains) where it’s not worth paying a consultant to analyse the data for each site but an automatic tool can prove very cost effective.

Optimal Monitoring and their product have earned their position as finalists in the Wright Commission Awards for 2019, and possess the only energy management software which has made it through to the final. This award nomination has already generated media coverage, and we wish Optimal every success in taking home the trophy.

The first collaboration was so successful that we are extremely excited to announce a second Knowledge Transfer Partnership to continue developing the software, and maintain our excellent working relationship with such an exciting and innovative company.

 

Are you a talented Data Scientist looking for an exciting new opportunity? As part of this new partnership between UoR and Optimal Monitoring we are hiring a KTP Associate which you can apply for 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.

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.