Fri 3 Nov 23
The University of Essex picked up two national honours at Innovate UK’s annual Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) awards ceremony in Cardiff.
Recognising the University for the strength of its KTPs, Essex walked away with Best Management KTP for its partnership with The Finishing Line, and Essex KTP Associate Rodolfo Cuan Urquizo won the Future Leaders Award.
The celebration, which highlights the positive impact KTPs have on businesses and not for profit organisations, also saw Essex shortlisted in the Best KTP Support Team category.
Rob Schatten, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships Manager at the University of Essex said: “We are absolutely delighted to see Rodolfo at Industrial Robotic Solutions and Joshua Arrowsmith at The Finishing Line recognised for the tremendous achievements delivered by their KTPs.
“Both projects have demonstrated the value a KTP can have on an organisation which provides support, personal investment in a talented Associate, and room for them to grow into the role.
“I’m proud to have seen the University’s KTP team selected as a finalist for the Best KTP Support Team for a third year running, recognising the outstanding support and work we put into providing all the stakeholders across our portfolio.”
The event was hosted by Professor Suzannah Lipscomb, a historian, broadcaster and former KTP Award winner, who shared her own insights into the benefits of KTPs. Guest speakers included Minister for the Economy of Wales Vaughan Gething and Dr Steve Welch, Executive Director from Knowledge Transfer Network.
Best Management KTP (mKTP) went to Essex’s collaboration with Basildon-based company The Finishing Line and it’s KTP Associate, Joshua Arrowsmith, for demonstrating the adoption of new skills across the business, particularly in strategic and performance management, and digital transformation.
The mKTP resulted in The Finishing Line making fundamental changes to its business model, enabling diversification into new markets and expansion of its existing service offerings, leading to the acquisition of new customers for eCommerce fulfilment, contract packing and warehousing.
Professor Niraj Kumar, Dr Shabneez Bhankaraully and Professor Matthew Allen, from Essex Business School supported Joshua, who joined the company post KTP as their Head of Commercial & Innovation. The team provided research and expertise in areas such as occupational psychology, change management and employment relations.
Since the launch of the partnership with Essex, The Finishing Line has seen an increase of over £175,000 in annual sales and £55,000 in profits relating to new business, with both expected to continue to rise in the coming years as The Finishing Line moves into a large, modern facility in October this year.
Joshua said when receiving the award: “The key thing within a mKTP is the people. These projects are very dynamic and fluid, and things change quickly.
“If it wasn’t for the support of my academic supervisors Shabneez and Niraj, my Knowledge Transfer Mentor Jan Stringer, and my Managing Director Andy Mead, we wouldn’t be in the successful position we’re in today. So, I’d just like to say thank you to all of them, and I’m excited to see where we go next at The Finishing Line.”
University of Essex KTP Associate Rodolfo Cuan Urquizo, a cognitive robotics research scientist, won the Future Leaders Award after helping to develop cutting-edge technology with the aim to save the food manufacturing industry billions of pounds.
Working in partnership with Industrial Robotic Solutions (IRS), based at the University's Knowledge Gateway research and technology park, Rodolfo was able to create a 3D-printed grabber which can pick up delicate ingredients such as slices of chicken and bacon and place them inside factory-made sandwiches.
The new tech is also able to distinguish between different ingredients, meaning it is being extended from the sandwich industry to the entire ready meal and frozen meal industry.
Rodolfo said: “I would like to thank Industrial Robotic Solutions and the University of Essex KTP team, who have been very supportive throughout the whole project. Being far from home means their ongoing guidance and this award means a lot to me. I’m also very grateful for the encouragement from my friends and family in Mexico.”
Essex was also shortlisted for the Best KTP Support team award, who continue to successfully support and grow the UK’s biggest KTP portfolio.
Across 2022, they received funding approval for every project submitted and their work with Innovate UK’s KTP Capacity Building Fund in early 2023 has benefited five other institutions looking to expand their KTP offerings.
Internally, the KTP team has expanded its engagement with academics and stakeholders around the University. This has led to new partnerships with the Department of History and the Institute for Public Health and Wellbeing.
KTPs offer a unique opportunity for businesses to access funding for innovation and growth, through collaboration with Essex.