University expertise helps businesses thrive

Region's Knowledge Transfer Partnerships praised for generating millions of pounds of business

University of Sunderland graduate Kris Carr with Imprint Group IT director Graeme Wilkie
University of Sunderland graduate Kris Carr with Imprint Group IT director Graeme Wilkie

Two North East universities have attracted praise for generating millions of pounds of business for the region through pioneering Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.

A link between the University of Sunderland and the Imprint Group print company has been rated outstanding in a national assessment, while Teesside University was recognised as a national example of excellence in working with businesses, ahead of a UK KTP conference being held at Wynyard Hall today.KTPs are designed to provide firms with access to university expertise, including academic, consultancy and qualified graduate placements, allowing business to develop new products, services and processes.

When Newcastle’s Imprint Group wanted to develop its largely manual business process into IT driven systems, it turned to the University of Sunderland, who assigned it computer software graduate Kris Carr, who has spent the last two years supporting its ambitions.

Carr’s efforts, alongside those of graduate, Tommy Catherall, have helped the company grow 30% year-on-year and produce revenue gains of up to £2m, while staff numbers increased from 40 to 70.

The KTP has now been given the rare grade A ‘outstanding’ rating by the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board, which funds, approves and rigorously reviews each project.

Business development manager for the university, Mark Donnelly, said: “The company has significantly improved their IT processes and generated £2m of new business; the academics have had a great experience transferring their research knowledge to help the business succeed; and one of our talented graduates has secured full-time employment.”

Ahead of today’s conference, meanwhile, Teesside University suggested more than £3m is likely to go into regional industry profits in the next five years thanks to KTPs.

In the last five years, 82% of its KTPs have been rated ‘outstanding’ or ‘very good’, compared with the national average of 55%.

The university is currently involved in its second partnership with Newcastle’s Ryder Architecture.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer