Published on 20/10/2023
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 Aston University crowned best in UK at Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) national awards 2023

•    The University wins best KTP project and best KTP Support Team 
•    The awards are an annual celebration of the most impactful KTPs
•    Winners were revealed at a ceremony on Wednesday 18 October in Cardiff managed by UK Government Innovation Agency Innovate UK. 

Aston University has scooped two significant prizes of the 2023 Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Awards

The annual awards recognise the people and partnerships behind the UK's most inspiring and successful KTP projects.

A partnership with Mechatherm International Ltd won best KTP project in the UK. The award recognises collaborations that demonstrate excellent achievements across all the three partners – business, academic and associate – and show how they have gone beyond the goals stated in the original proposal.

Mechatherm is a provider of bespoke casthouse equipment to the aluminium industry. Its partnership with Aston University resulted in a more intelligent design process for furnaces and ancillary equipment for the global aluminium industry. 

It uses complex design automation techniques and algorithms at a fraction of the usual time and cost. The project led, by Dr Gareth Thomson, Dr Michal Konečný and Paul Warrington allows for a higher volume and greater accuracy of projects to be quoted.

Alan Burrows, MD of Mechatherm said: “We’ve seen across-the board improvements from working with Aston University’s academics and our KTP associate, Suyesh Bhattarai. 

“The new, intelligent system for design optimisation has reduced our calculation time from a week previously to an hour, and our planning timescales have shrunk from 38 weeks to nine weeks with no effect on quality. 

“These gains, coupled with further engineering time reductions have delivered a significant bottom line impact for the firm”. 

Receiving his award KTP associate Suyesh Bhatterai said: “I’m delighted my work at Mechatherm has resulted in such a positive impact, and also has worldwide implication and applications in the industry. Increasing the efficiency of the design process in this context helps the firm, its customers and the planet”. 

Mechatherm and Aston University have subsequently set up a second KTP partnership to develop a suite of energy-efficient aluminium recycling systems. Led by Dr Ahmed Rezk and Dr Muhammad Imran the project aims to halve energy consumption.

Aston University also won the Best KTP support team award, which recognises the team that has best engaged and capitalised on the opportunities offered via the KTP programme. The University team currently tops informal league tables for the quality of its KTPs.

John Richards, director of Knowledge Exchange and the team leader said:

“It’s wonderful that my team has been formally recognised as the sector leader for Knowledge Transfer Programmes, and winning in two separate categories is further acknowledgement of both the scale and quality of the university’s collaborative research capabilities and strong partnerships with regional and national companies.”

KTP is part of a wider strategic direction for Aston University and Professor Aleks Subic, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive said:

"These notable awards confirm Aston University’s strong focus on creating high impact outcomes in collaboration with businesses and our commitment to supporting economic growth in our region. Our triple helix innovation approach involving academia, business, and government, all working towards a common goal is exemplified by our work with Innovate UK and Mechatherm. 

“Our transformational impact achieved through KTPs, is a key strand of our new Aston 2030 strategy. I’m truly delighted that the Mechatherm partnership has delivered such strong results, and that the Aston University Knowledge Exchange Team led by John Richards has been recognised for excellence and impact.” 

From left to right: Professor Simon Green (PVC for Research), Mark Matchett (KTP Advisor, Innovate UK), Dr Suyesh Bhattarai (KTP Associate at Mechatherm International Ltd), Sam Burrows (KTP Operations Coordinator), Emily Wakefield (KTP Manager), Lana Amosova (KTP Operations Coordinator), Alan Burrows (Managing Director at Mechatherm International Ltd), John Richards (Director of Knowledge Exchange) and Mark Smith (Executive Director of Business & Regional Engagement).


Notes to editors

Notes to Editors 
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, recognised by Innovate UK, the national body. 
Aston University has had previous success with its KTPs. A KTP with Partnership Medical Ltd which resulted in the development of a revolutionary Khamsin automated endoscope cleaner was nominated for the Best KTP Award 2022. In July 2023, the Khamsin device won the Science, Technology, and Innovation Award at the 2023 Staffordshire Chambers Business Awards.
In 2020, a team from Aston University won the award for the Most Effective Initiative from a KTP Office for developing the Computer Science Industry Club (CSIC). The CSIC harnesses industry expertise to generate high-level graduate opportunities, enhance the skills of students and develop new research opportunities.
About Aston University
For over a century, Aston University’s enduring purpose has been to make our world a better place through education, research and innovation, by enabling our students to succeed in work and life, and by supporting our communities to thrive economically, socially and culturally.
Aston University’s history has been intertwined with the history of Birmingham, a remarkable city that once was the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world.
Born out of the First Industrial Revolution, Aston University has a proud and distinct heritage dating back to our formation as the School of Metallurgy in 1875, the first UK College of Technology in 1951, gaining university status by Royal Charter in 1966, and becoming The Guardian University of the Year in 2020.
Building on our outstanding past, we are now defining our place and role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (and beyond) within a rapidly changing world.

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