Published on 01/08/2023
Share this Article:
Student girl with trainer working on computer and tablet
  • Software platform to encourage apprentices to complete their training developed through a knowledge transfer partnership with Aston University
  • Uses machine learning and predictive analytics to provide in-depth data analysis of learner records 
  • Has enabled educators to identify learners at risk of attrition and is expected to grow revenue significantly over the next four years.

Aston University has completed a two year knowledge transfer partnership (KTP) with apprentice management specialist Advanced Smart Apprentices, whose head office is in Birmingham. This has resulted in an innovative software platform which has the potential of improving apprenticeship completion rates by identifying students at risk of dropping out after as short as three months into their studies.

Computer scientists from Aston University’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, created a new learner engagement module, ‘Smart Coach’, which offers learner support material as a ‘bolt on’ to Advanced Smart Apprentices existing apprenticeship delivery software.

The Smart Coach module analyses patterns in learner behaviour and identifies areas for closer learner support by combining complex data consolidation and in-depth predictive analytics based on learner records. 

The project team used machine learning to create a prescriptive analytics model, which identifies at risk learners while also indicating possible interventions to mitigate risks and support each student’s learning journey.

The project was led by Dr Felipe Campelo, senior lecturer in computer science at Aston University, whose research focuses on the development of solution frameworks for prescriptive data analytics, connecting data mining, optimisation and multi-criteria decision support. He was joined by Aniko Ekart, professor of artificial intelligence (AI) at Aston University.

Nathan Lloyd, KTP associate for the partnership, gained in-company experience of building and deploying a practical data mining and AI solution. Following the completion of the project, Nathan received a PhD offer from Ontario Tech University in Canada. 

Dr Felipe Campelo, senior lecturer of computer science at Aston University, said: 

“This KTP has been a great way for us to work with a new industrial partner whilst applying our expertise in machine learning and artificial intelligence to problems in education.

“It is very rewarding to see the success of this collaboration.”
Ann Ramsey, vice president of education at Advanced Smart Apprentices, said: 

“This KTP has allowed us to produce a platform which will help improve apprenticeship achievement and retention rates and have positive impacts on future life prospects.

“Over time we envisage this partnership will add significant value to help our business grow in the education market by offering a unique and valuable product.”

Notes to Editors

More about KTPs

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) is a UK-wide programme that helps businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills. Aston University is a leading KTP provider, ranked second in terms of volume by Innovate UK, the National body. 

This project is co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK and was awarded the highest grade of ‘Outstanding’ by the Innovate UK KTP Grading Panel.

Watch our short film to see how it works and visit our website for examples of KTP in action at Aston.

To find out more about how your business can benefit from working with Aston University, please email or call 0121 204 4242.

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a university since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiary groups – students, business and the professions, and the West Midlands region and wider society. Located in Birmingham at the heart of a vibrant city, the campus houses all the University’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Aleks Subic is the Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.

Aston University is ranked 22nd in the UK in the Guardian University Guide, based on measures including entry standards, student satisfaction, research quality and graduate prospects. The Aston Business School MBA programme was ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Sam Cook, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44)7446 910063 or email:

Be first to get the latest news, research and expert comment from Aston
by following us on Twitter

Need an expert for your story? Browse our expert directory


Sue Smith,
Head of Press and Communications


Sam Cook,
Press and Communications Manager


Nicola Jones,
Press and Communications Manager


Helen Tunnicliffe,
Press and Communications Manager


Alternatively, email