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.

In conversation with Paul Cartwright of EcoInsect

Earlier in 2019 Paul Cartwright got in contact with the Knowledge Transfer Centre looking for support with his prototype. Since then, and with the help if the KTC, Paul has both applied for and been awarded an Innovate UK Smart Grant and got his company EcoInsect to the next step.

We caught up with Paul to discuss his experience:

How did you hear about the Knowledge Transfer Centre?

As a start-up, EcoInsect is currently in the R&D phase; we’re designing an automated prototype production facility to breed and grow insect larvae. We’re focussing on two core product lines and so we were looking for potential collaborators to help us trial and validate our products prior to commercial launch. In my search for universities with a strong biosciences department, I came across the University of Reading and in reading more about the establishment it quickly became clear that Reading had the expertise we needed.

How was your original contact managed? Did it meet your expectations?

I was immediately introduced to a member of the Knowledge Transfer Centre team, and within two weeks I had been introduced to two Academics specialising in animal diets and gut health. All three of them expressed a strong interest in the project and we’ve been really fortunate to have such great support from the get go. I was not previously aware of the collaboration avenues available to businesses like ours, but we were provided with all the information we needed to work with the university and our options were clearly outlined.

Can you talk us through your experience of the process?

The process has been both helpful and really beneficial. After a series of initial meetings, we were able to match various resources together and were then offered their full support in the application process to Innovate UK.

Did you feel supported during the application?

We have felt very supported during the entire process. The KTC have facilitated all the meetings and we have benefited tremendously from the fact that they have previous experience with submitting Innovate UK applications. The Academics offered invaluable guidance on developing our research and getting the best outcome in validating our products.

Did you encounter any challenges? If so, how did you overcome them?

Start-ups face a lot of challenges, and we are no exception, however these challenges provide invaluable lessons in evolving the business. Our main challenge in this process has been the fact that our first application to Innovate UK was not successful. However, after review of the Innovate UK feedback and encouragement of the team we felt it was worth giving it another go. Innovate UK rules only allow for one opportunity to re-apply for the grant so it was a risk for us, but fortunately with the right support and expertise we were successful on our second application.

Would you recommend getting in touch with the KTC to other companies?

I would certainly encourage other companies to use this resource. In my case my expertise is not in research, and being a new sector, research is key to the evolution of the business, and without the expertise and support from the team I’ve been lucky enough to work with it’s very unlikely that we would have been successful, and it’s been key to our business.

How does working with the KTC compare to any other mechanisms you may have explored?

We did have the option to go to through another consultant firm who offered to draft the application on our behalf. Aside from the cost, something just didn’t feel right, and we really didn’t see any increase in benefit that was not already provided to us by the KTC, so we felt there was no need to work with any other resources. Innovate Smart Grants are extremely competitive.

How confident did you feel it was going to go through? How were your expectations managed?

We believe what we’re doing has the potential to revolutionise various sectors and markets, so we were confident in our business case. It was daunting to compete in such an open contest across multiple sectors, but with the support and the encouragement we received from the KTC we had the confidence to go for it and I’m glad that we did.

How excited are you for the next steps, and how are you preparing for them?

The next 18 months are going to be a huge challenge but we’re really looking forward to the next steps and continuing our partnership with the Knowledge Transfer Centre. We’re working hard on the research areas in the hope that we can expand to commercial scale in 2021.

Do you feel that you would have got to where you are today without the support of the KTC?

We strongly feel that without the support and the expertise made available to us by the Knowledge Transfer Centre in a very competitive market for the Innovate UK grant, that we probably wouldn’t have been successful. Without a successful application, we wouldn’t have been able to launch our business, so for us it’s been a huge win and we’re very glad that we were lucky enough to find and link up with the KTC team.

 

We filmed this interview, which you can watch here.

A PDF of this interview is available on our website here.

You can read more about how the Knowledge Transfer Centre can help you and/or your business growth on our website: www.reading.ac.uk/ktc.

 

The YES Competition 2019

YES, or the Young Entrepreneurs Scheme, s an innovative global competition developed to raise awareness among postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers of how ideas from science and engineering can be commercialised.

Founded by the University of Nottingham, YES has an alumni of over 5000, and stages a competition whereby postgraduate students & postdoctoral researchers prepare a business plan for a hypothetical company. Designed to deliver business awareness and an understanding of entrepreneurship, the YES competition is an excellent opportunity for students to be exposed to the commercial world and have the chance to attend the final in London’s Royal Society.

You can watch our video covering the 2018 final here.

You can also find out more about the competition and how you can get involved here.

YES is organised jointly by The University of Nottingham’s Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship(HGI), the  Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Could a passionate Graduate help with your company’s growth?

Do you think of yourself as a high-growth SME? Could a passionate graduate seeking an enriching role support your growth?

Be a leading organisation as we launch an exciting new graduate scheme!

With the growing number of SMEs in the Thames Valley region, the University of Reading‘s Knowledge Transfer Centre is developing an innovative graduate scheme to support SMEs in attracting talented graduates.

 

This new graduate scheme aims to give you:

Increased visibility to attract and hire graduates

The Tool to hire recruit the best suited graduate

Access to talented graduates all year round to best suit your business needs

 

You can help us shape this innovative graduate scheme designed to benefit your business and other local SMEs. Your views and ideas are critical to ensuring we design the best and most impactful scheme possible for SMEs such as yours.

Please join Chrissy Boulton from 8:30-10:30am Tues 14th May 2019 at Innovation Catalyst, Thames Valley Science Park, Shinfield, RG2 9LH.

Breakfast/drinks will be provided, and attending means you’ll be first in the queue for membership of the scheme.

There is limited availability, so Please contact Chrissy on to secure your place.

#thamesvalley #recruitment #innovation #graduate #business #smes 

Spring has sprung on campus!

Every so often it’s nice just to step away from the screen and take a moment to enjoy your surroundings. Luckily for us, we happen to work on one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, and get to enjoy views like this on our walks.

The University of Reading’s Whiteknights Campus has been recognised as one of Britain’s top green spaces for the eighth year in a row by the Green Flag Awards, with this picture taken in the stunning Harris Gardens.

What a place to work and study!

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.

WE ARE HIRING!

Are you looking for an exciting new challenge?

We are currently looking for a talented Business Relationship Manager to join our fast-paced professional team supporting collaborations with external partners.

 

ABOUT US:

The Knowledge Transfer Centre at the University of Reading is a highly successful centre with a focus on exceptional levels of service. We establish and manage collaborations with companies and external partners on behalf of the University, working with academic partners to support a variety of income generating initiatives.

ABOUT THE ROLE:

Within the KTC, the Business Relationship Managers are responsible for managing a portfolio of relationships and developing new collaborations that expand and diversify the economic and societal impact of our research. In addition to managing your own portfolio, each Business Relationship Manager leads on a specific area of the KTC’s activities.

ABOUT YOU:

You will have the ability to develop and maintain relationships, generate leads, and manage funding applications, with a clear understanding of the current funding landscape for collaborative projects. You will provide excellent levels of service, and work closely with the Senior Business Relationship Manager.

 

For more info and to apply, click here: https://lnkd.in/g43HKhK 

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.