Figures recently released by the Technology Strategy Board reveal that Aston University is the 2nd highest provider of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) in the West Midlands and is ranked 12th nationally. The driving force behind this success is Aston's Business Development Team, based within the Business Partnership Unit. The Team works with academic staff across all schools to identify ways that expertise at Aston can be of value to businesses, charities and public sector organisations in developing new products, services and processes.
Through various schemes including KTPs, Cooperative Awards in Science and Engineering (CASE Awards) and Innovation Vouchers, Aston is helping businesses to expand and prosper by providing access to expertise and funding.
Since August 2010 the team have worked with academics to successfully set up 26 CASE Awards, 19 Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and various other projects. Aston research and expertise has benefitted 46 different companies over the same period including British Sugar, Warwickshire Police, Unilever, Amey plc and Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
The team includes John Richards, who heads up the team and works primarily with EAS, Tony Jay, who is the main contact point for ABS, Dr Angela Jeffrey who works with LHS, Martin May, who manages Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) and Emily Wakefield who works with on various projects and awards.
Expertise from many different academic areas can be of benefit to businesses and the team work with many academics across research fields as diverse as pharmacy, bioengineering and operational strategy. Some recently announced projects include:
Kimal - Developing ‘in-home’ care
Currently there are around 20,000 dialysis patients in the UK and this is predicted to increase at 8% per annum. This partnership with Aston will identify appropriate mechanisms for engaging with NHS organisations for the provision of ‘in-home’ care for these patients. The partnership will also develop management processes to manage this business stream. The academic supervisors are Drs Graham Leask and Rakesh Bissoondeeal (ABS).
PIRA International – Conversion of paper industry waste to energy
The paper industry is a significant user of energy and generator of waste by-products. This partnership will see a CASE Award student from Aston University’s Bio-energy Research group investigating the potential for gasification in the conversion of paper industry wastes to energy that can either be used onsite or sold to the grid. The Academic supervisor is Dr John Brammer (EAS).
Colorcon – Rapidly dissolving tablets
It is estimated that up to 50% of the population have difficulty in swallowing traditional tablets and capsules. This can result in patients not taking the required drugs, which leads to ineffective therapy. Aston University and Colorcon are working together to develop rapidly dissolving tablets that can be taken by people who cannot swallow, including children and the elderly, which still deliver a sustained dose of medication. The Academic Supervisor is Dr Afzal Mohammed (LHS).
John Richards, Head of Business Development told Aspects that, "the partnerships that we help to set up between academics and businesses are of huge benefit to the companies involved as the expertise that they can access from the University can help them to compete successfully in a competitive market. There are many benefits for the University including income generation, opportunities to demonstrate research impact, and the development of new strategic partnerships with organisations."
Contact the team and find out more.
Words by Claire Hopkins
2 August 2011