Published on 10/06/2021
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  • Aston secures Knowledge Transfer Partnership with John Desmond Ltd
  • Researchers will develop new antimicrobial coatings to reduce infection in high risk environments
  • The coatings will be used for architectural fixtures including handrails, push plates, door handles and taps and will be suitable for all healthcare environments.

A leading London based architectural metalwork company, specialising in the design, fabrication and installation of bespoke metal products has entered into a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Aston University, with the aim of developing antimicrobial coatings as a way to reduce infection in high risk environments. 

The Aston University research team will work with John Desmond Limited to develop high end metallic products that can be used where there is a high risk of the spread of bacteria. The antimicrobial coating will be developed for use in communal areas on products such as handrails, balustrades, push plates, door handles and faceplates, – all of which are common in high traffic areas such as hospitals, doctors surgeries, dental practices, schools and transportation hubs.

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) is a three-way partnership between a business, an academic partner and a graduate, called a KTP Associate. The UK-wide programme helps businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills. Aston University is the leading KTP provider within the Midlands.

Microbiologists from Aston University’s College of Health and Life Sciences and materials scientists from its College of Engineering and Physical Science will establish the effectiveness of the antimicrobial coatings against a panel of bacteria under a range of conditions to further optimise the surface performance. 

The team will support John Desmond Ltd to establish an in-house microbiology laboratory to enable extensive testing of the developed coatings which will be carried out under lab conditions. Information from the lab tests will provide supporting evidence to prospective clients of the antimicrobial coating’s efficacy, expected lifespan and performance under varying conditions.

Ian Desmond, owner of John Desmond Ltd, said: “We are very excited to be working with Aston University on this ground-breaking project to develop industrial coatings capable of reducing the spread of infection within public spaces. 

“We are confident that with the expert knowledge and experience that the Aston University team brings to this collaboration, we will succeed in formulating a potent cost-effective means to protect all of us from the threat of micro-organisms, and their impact on the environment in which we live and work.”

The Aston University academic team consists of Dr Tony Worthington, associate professor in clinical microbiology and infectious disease; Professor Anthony Hilton, and executive dean of the College of Health and Life Sciences, and Dr Richard Martin from the Aston Institute of Materials Research in the College of Engineering and Physical Science. 

Professor Anthony Hilton said: “I’m delighted to be able to work on this exciting project with John Desmond Ltd, bringing together a multi-disciplinary team of scientists and engineers from across Aston University to work with an industry partner.  

“Knowledge exchange between academia and industry is a core element of Aston University’s strategy and it is exciting to be part of a team developing a product which has the potential to have real impact in preventing and controlling infection.”

Dr Richard Martin, Aston Institute of Materials Research, said: “Over the past year, we have all become aware of just how important it is to limit the spread of microorganisms. This project is an exciting opportunity to develop new antimicrobial coatings that will significantly reduce the transmission of microorganisms from touchpoint surfaces such as door handles and handrails."

The research team have found that claims for the effectiveness of the anti-microbial properties of products already on the market are not always backed with scientifically rigorous evidence. As a result of this, these products have not been able to penetrate markets such as healthcare, where generic claims are not sufficient for buyers to change suppliers.

This KTP will establish a body of testing and efficacy data which will support the application and use of antimicrobial coatings in a range of settings where control of bacteria on environmental surfaces is critical for infection prevention and control.

You can visit our website for more information about The College of Health and Life Sciences and The College of Engineering and Physical Science at Aston University.

Notes to editors

About Aston University

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

Aston University was named University of the Year 2020 by The Guardian and the University’s full time MBA programme has been ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking. The Aston MBA has been ranked 12th in the UK and 85th in the world. The University also has TEF Gold status in the Teaching Excellence Framework. 

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Rebecca Hume, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44)7557 745416 or email:

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