Business Expertise

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

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Innovation for business

We are the number 1 university in the UK for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs), the flagship Innovate UK programme.

If you're looking to develop a new product or improve a process, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) at the University of Essex can give your business a competitive advantage.

KTPs are an established and successful initiative, funded by Innovate UK and Research Councils that bring together businesses with research expertise.

Essex leads on KTPs
  • We're are number 1 in the UK for the number of Innovate UK funded KTPs
  • We have 40 KTPs across eight academic departments
  • Our KTP portfolio is worth £10 million

How it works 

We'll work with you to identify the right team for your project among our academics. Together, we'll then recruit a high-calibre postgraduate who will be based at your company as a research associate and who will manage the project.

They'll have weekly catch-ups with our academics to ensure the project remains on-track, a senior contact in your company will be involved throughout to ensure commercial focus and projects last from six months to three years.

KTPs are sponsored by Innovate UK, research councils and a number of other bodies. Sponsors fund 67% of the project costs for an SME and 50% of the project costs for larger companies.

Understanding the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships Process)
Understanding the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships Process

The benefits
of partnership

Eligible for R&D tax credits
Our funding approval success rate is 95% for KTP projects
Access to world leading research
Access to highly qualified and motivated graduates
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Case studies

At Essex we work with businesses from IT, telecoms, logistics, finance, defence, agriculture and manufacturing. Our current KTP portfolio focuses on areas such as data science, embedded systems, internet of things, AI big data and robotics. 

Artificial Intelligence

Signal Media

The business need

Signal is a media monitoring service provider that wanted to develop a cutting-edge, highly scalable natural language processing applications that monitor and analyse the world's news.

The expertise

Using our expertise in natural language engineering, we took a leading role on a project that saw Signal develop the capabilities to retrieve, clean and analyse huge data sets consisting of millions of pieces of media content.

This enables Signal's clients to instantly and accurately search global media in real time, and it has quickly become central to their service offering. This played a pivotal and transformative role in the development of Signal's AI-powered media monitoring capabilities as we as the company's growth. 

The value

We are now starting our second KTP with Signal Media. Our first helped the company to secure investment of over £5.8m and increase from a three-person operation to over 70 employees.

Signal have recently announced they have raised £12m through their Series B investment round. 


The business need

Electronics business Leonardo wanted to exploit machine vision technology that could detect critical movement, and summarise that activity into visual video sequences. So we set up a knowledge transfer partnership with Leonardo and Innovate UK to add the latest technology into their drive for business innovation.

The expertise

Using our leading expertise in computational intelligence and video summarisation, we devised a system able to capture video data that can be analysed and used to evaluate certain situations, such as monitoring elderly or infirm people, or surveillance in sensitive locations. This data can be used to prompt further intervention.

The value

Leonardo has gained market share in the rapidly growing medtech sector and has a standing in the security technology market. Leonardo was eligible to receive 25% funding from Innovate UK through the national knowledge transfer partnerships programme. For smaller businesses this support rises to 67%.

Augmented and Virtual Reality


The business need

BT is one of the world's leading communications services companies, with a large field service workforce, BT continuously work on enhancing talent development. They joined forces with Essex to explore the use of mixed reality technologies to empower their engineers.

The expertise

This project used Essex expertise in computational intelligence and mixed reality to develop decision-support solutions. Using augmented reality headsets senior BT field engineers were able to guide and remotely advise junior colleagues on different engineering tasks.

The value

This innovation helped BT realise business efficiency and operational transformation. IT provided on-the-job assistance in unfamiliar situations, which aids decision making and provides an immersive hands-on platform for active training.

This work could help reduce the costs of manual effort and response times, optimising resources and reducing impact of task interruptions and errors for better customer experience.

The work was awarded with a Global Telecoms Business Innovation Award (2017), highly commended at the IET Innovation Awards (2018), and it has been showcased on BBC News, Wired Smarter and London Tech Week.

Emerging Technology

Above Surveying

The business need

Above Surveying based in Colchester is the UK's leading aerial thermographic solar inspection specialist and a pioneer in using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for solar farm monitoring. They joined forces with Essex to refine their smart drone technology and develop a sophisticated, accurate and automated monitoring service for Europe's booming solar farms.

The expertise

Solar farms use thousands of solar PV panels and identifying problems and defects is a significant challenge. The project used Essex expertise in embedded systems and advanced image recognition to measure and identify deterioration of PV panels across the growing number of large-scale solar farms.

The value

Above Surveying Managing Director, Will Hitchcock said: "Our partnership with the University of Essex and Innovate UK will give us the combined expertise to take innovative UAV technology to the next level, keeping our business at the forefront of this developing market."

LPA Connection Systems

The business need

LPA Connection Systems provides robust electrical connectors and connection systems that offer high reliability and low maintenance costs for rail, aerospace, defence and marine industries. They wanted to develop their Ethernet connector so we set up a KTP (knowledge transfer partnership) with them and Innovate UK to add the latest technology into their drive for business innovation.

The expertise

The project aim was to develop Ethernet systems for trains offering high bandwidth and future-proofed against costly future upgrades. Our expertise helped develop the world’s first 10GbE bandwidth train Ethernet backbone over copper,providing more bandwidth and reducing the need for bandwidth upgrades in future.

The value

LPA launched the technology 12 months into the two-year KTP, receiving more than £1m in orders over the last year of the project, with orders continuing to grow after completion. This project had real business impact so LPA was eligible to receive 67% funding from Innovate UK through the national knowledge transfer partnerships programme. For larger businesses this support reduces to 50%.


Fläkt Woods

The business need

Fläkt Woods makes a range of fans that incorporate electiral motors, but the efficiency of the fans had reached the optimum level. The company wanted to tackle this by using Electronically Commutated (EC) motors, which would increase efficiency by integrating electronic controls.

The expertise

Fläkt Woods sought expertise from the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering. We applied computational intelligence techniques and learning algorithms to develop integrated systems that developed a new EC motor fan, This new product is better performing, more efficient economical and environmentally friendly.

The value

The KTP project enabled Fläkt Woods to develop a new product and the company is looking to start a second KTP with Essex. This partnership was ranked as outstanding by Innovate UK thanks to its business impact. Simon Chapman, R&D Director at Fläkt Woods said: "This partnership has been a remarkable success, resulting in an outstanding product which enables us to offer a more efficient and flexible product to meet our customers' needs."

Port of Felixstowe

The business need

The Port of Felixstowe is the UK’s busiest port. It wanted to explore solutions that had the potential to improve its complex scheduling processes, so that it could operate at an optimum level. So we set up a knowledge transfer partnership with the Port of Felixstowe and Innovate UK to add the latest technology into their drive for business innovation.

The expertise

Using our leading expertise in developing optimisation algorithms using artificial intelligence, and cutting edge software, we devised a project to help solve certain scheduling problems and schedule the labour force more intelligently. The two-year project has further enhanced the Port’s labour deployment processes allowing it to reduce waste costs and increase its customer service.

The value

This project has real business impact so the Port of Felixstowe was eligible to receive 50% funding from Innovate UK through the national knowledge transfer partnerships programme. For smaller businesses this support rises to 67%.

Find out more about KTPs
Find out more about KTPs
Holly Leonard KTP Manager