Chris Warkup, CEO

April 2017 marked the third birthday of the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) as a single KTN. The organisation continues to provide business networking for Innovate UK and other funders – connecting people and accelerating innovation.

The KTN delivers economic growth for the UK. By connecting people, we speed up innovation, solve problems and find markets for new ideas. We bring together businesses, entrepreneurs, academics and funders to develop new products, processes and services. This report outlines some examples of these. Our combination of breadth, reach and depth of knowledge is unique and, three years on, allows us to deliver a greater degree of connectedness than ever before.

Earlier this year, we had to use expertise in innovation and problem-solving within our own organisation when we faced a significant cut in our grant funding. We were challenged to consider new efficiencies, while maintaining reach across all sectors. As a result, we have been able to retain our full breadth of market knowledge, which is deliberately wider than the priority funding areas of Innovate UK.

The Autumn Statement of 2016 announced an unprecedented increase in innovation funding from the UK Government. Among other opportunities, this led to us delivering a high profile series of engagements for the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund within less than six weeks from conception to delivery. Some 2,500 expressions of interest and eight UK-wide workshops later, the job was delivered and objectives achieved.

This year has also seen a renewed focus on our portfolio of Special Interest Groups (SIGS). These Groups concentrate activity on convening expertise across different sectors and are focussed on delivering a specific innovation purpose. They’re a tested way of injecting extra energy into timely opportunities for knowledge transfer to support economic growth through innovation.

So what do they say about three year olds? They are normally:

As we pass our third birthday, KTN is all of these things and I look forward to the growth and development ahead.

Chris Warkup, CEO, Knowledge Transfer Network


Chairman’s welcome

In my second year as Chairman, I’m delighted to introduce the Knowledge Transfer Network’s Annual Report 2016/17. The report highlights some of the critical work my colleagues are undertaking across the UK: integrating opportunities between businesses, universities and investors to drive the UK economy forward through business-led innovation.

Last year strongly reinforced our position as the UK’s leading innovation network. I often have the pleasure of hearing feedback about KTN activities from people who do not realise my connection. Almost universally, I hear how great the people are and how effective the meetings have become. It’s a real privilege for me to play a small part in such a great team.

Last year’s restructure saw new roles being created, and others changed in response to long-term ambition. The organisation is now more efficient and effective in converting UK R&D into products and wealth for the UK. This structure also has the flexibility and resilience to deal with the opportunities and challenges which may well come from the incorporation of Innovate UK within the new UKRI structure, and the UK’s exit from the EU, which will certainly require change in the way companies and academics network across Europe.

‘The whole is more than the sum of its parts’ is an observation that so clearly plays out through the Knowledge Transfer Network. No other UK network has – for example – an expert in Agri-Food and Industrial Biotechnology liaising on cross-sector opportunities, with an expert in Defence who also liaises closely with their counterparts in Materials and Design. Having access to their breadth of knowledge is what makes KTN so powerful, and it’s one of the things that make my role so rewarding and enjoyable. Over the next three years we will continue to build on this expertise, expand our network across the UK and ensure that we pre-empt the industrial opportunities, which will drive the UK economy forward beyond the next ten years.

The case studies offered in this Annual Report demonstrate the value delivered through business and research connections with our organisation. Without the signposting, introductions, support and encouragement offered through the Knowledge Transfer Network, it is fair to assume that the majority of these projects would be nowhere near market stage.

I offer my thanks to our energetic, creative and extremely talented staff. The Knowledge Transfer Network exists because of their expertise and dedication.

David Lawrence, Chairman, Knowledge Transfer Network