Research and Enterprise

Growing Knowledge Transfer Partnerships in Built Environment, Engineering and Computing

Leeds Beckett ranks in the top 15 universities nationally for live Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs). We’ve been delighted to see rapid growth across the university, with a notable level of success in the School of Built Environment, Engineering and Computing (BEEC) in the last 18 months. Twelve academic colleagues are now engaged in KTP projects, with school engagement at its highest level. In this blog post, Business Development Manager Anne-Marie Gallagher tells us all about the exciting projects currently taking place in the School.

The main entrance of James Graham building

As a large school, with a breadth of expertise, BEEC have been well placed to respond to the challenges that are facing businesses, supporting organisations to develop intelligent systems and solutions to ensure productivity, sustainability and innovation.

With eight live KTPs within their school portfolio and several others in development, BEEC is showcasing how its strengths are well aligned to KTP funder, Innovate UK’s priority themes, which is a great place to be as we know KTP funding isn’t going to dry up anytime soon.

Building on the research already undertaken by our academic colleagues, the current KTPs tackle a range of complex business problems, across a variety of sectors. Not only do these projects deliver solutions and commercial impact for businesses, but they also support government agendas to boost innovation, support local economies and tackle the Net Zero agenda.

The School’s latest success, focussed on optimising supply chain engagement within the construction industry, saw the University secure its first KTP with a Public Sector organisation, which will no doubt lead to other opportunities to support local authority partners across the region.

At LBU, we pride ourselves on the societal and environmental benefits that come from our projects, with all our projects supporting at least one of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

One project that will bring significant environmental benefits is our KTP in partnership with Q Medical, led by Dr Ash Ahmed. This KTP will see colleagues in BEEC process and utilise healthcare waste - particularly NHS waste - to create new, low carbon construction materials.

Four members of the NuGreen team outside their offices, wearing high-vis tops and standing next to two green wheely bins

The NuGreen team - sister company of Q Medical - partnering with BEEC on a KTP

We were delighted to secure the funding for this worthwhile project knowing that it will divert high volumes of healthcare waste from incineration and therefore support the NHS to meet their goals of reaching NetZero by 2040 (and I learnt a lot more about the structure of concrete then I ever thought I would!)

Through the rich partnerships held by academic colleagues and the close working relationships that the Research and Enterprise Service are building with local and national employers, we are able to gain a deep understanding of the challenges that organisations are facing and how we can transfer our knowledge to support them in finding cutting edge solutions.

We are starting to notice common challenges facing businesses of all sizes, one in particular being carbon emissions and the complexity that comes with understanding a company’s Scope 3 emissions.

One of our current KTPs, led by Dr Jim Parker in Leeds Sustainability Institute, focusses on the audit and reduction of carbon emissions in supply chains with a reputable pet food manufacturer, Inspired Pet Nutrition. This project is a great case study and generates a lot of interest from other businesses who want to consider how they could work smarter and make more informed business decisions.

A man sitting on a wheelbarrow with his dog by his side, surrounded by trees

James Lawson, Chief Technical Officer at Inspired Pet Nutrition

Working on KTPs is a rewarding experience for all parties. KTPs support our university strategy for Research and Knowledge Exchange by strengthening research links, enabling publications and contributions at conferences.

Due to the high levels of innovation that KTPs demand, our projects often bring a multi-disciplinary team together, seeing two different subject groups or even multiple schools collaborating, which offers new opportunities to our academic community.

Some of the current BEEC projects are in partnership with Leeds Business School and the Carnegie School of Sport. It’s always an interesting process to bring such varied skill sets together into one project team and we’ve seen great success in doing so. Colleagues can also utilise their work for research outputs including impact case studies for REF, and have the opportunity to apply knowledge and expertise to real-world problems.

We hope to continue to develop KTPs within the School for many years to come, building capacity amongst colleagues and expanding into new project themes, as we support businesses to evolve in the Net Zero Era.

If you are interested in becoming involved in KTPs, please get in touch.

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