August 4, 2021, by indybamra1
What Is a KTP?
By Georgiana Nica-Avram
Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) is a three-way partnership between a university, a business, and a graduate or postgraduate, known as a KTP Associate. A KTP allows you to work on projects, lasting up to three years, which aims to apply academic knowledge to real-world challenges. Projects are wide-ranging and between organisations of any size or industry and across all academic disciplines.
For the past two years, as a KTP Associate, I have worked on a collaborative project between N/Lab (Nottingham University Business School) and OLIO – the world’s most popular neighbour-to-neighbour sharing app. I joined this role shortly after finishing my PhD in Digital Economy, as it seemed the perfect opportunity to apply the knowledge I had gained from my PhD, with an ethically-minded company. The goal of this project was to harness the wealth of knowledge within N/Lab and apply the data science skills I developed during my PhD to help OLIO establish a successful business model.
Meaningful transfer of knowledge
I spent most of my time at the University working closely with the academic team and applying our joint knowledge to address the OLIO’s business goals. In retrospect, OLIO’s co-located work environment prepared me for the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic early on, whilst being involved in diverse and tantalising projects.
Serendipity and adaptability
More importantly, my focus during this KTP was informed by OLIO’s adaptability and ethos, as well as continued support from the academic team. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, we realised that an important proportion of OLIO’s users were experiencing food insecurity and hunger. This motivated us to apply the knowledge and skills we had to understand the experience of food insecurity among OLIO’s users. As a result, I developed the first UK-wide machine-learning model of food insecurity. In autumn 2020, a proof-of-concept map was implemented with Havering Borough Council in London (as part of an Innovate UK Sustainable Innovation Fund), to help local authorities monitor, evaluate, and intervene, to reduce the burden of food insecurity.
Develop your professional self
The KTP made excellent use of both academic and business resources and nurtured an ongoing collaboration between OLIO and the University. It also helped me address professional development needs.
KTP Associates are given a budget of up to £2,000 per year of their KTP projects to help develop the skills they need during the project and beyond in their career. During the KTP, I was able to use this to go on courses and develop my technical skills and academic rigor, adaptability, communication to diverse audiences, and teamwork skills. As KTP projects are undertaken by universities and businesses from across the UK, I also got to attend residential training with a cohort of like-minded KTP Associates. In these modules, I learned key commercial skills such as problem-solving and budget management which helped me to manage my project. I particularly treasure the exposure to a variety of situations and demands, as well as the engagement with and feedback from experienced senior members of OLIO.
Inform your career path
My decision to pursue a career in academia has been informed by my KTP experience of the past two years. I recently joined the Nottingham University Business School in a Transitional Assistant Professor role, where I aim to continue the meaningful transfer of knowledge from research to the business sector to address today’s pressing issues. For the next four years, this role will help me grow from an early career researcher to an assistant professor, by focusing on research and gradually contributing to teaching.
Finally, If you’re a postgraduate student I would encourage you to consider undertaking a KTP – not only will this help develop sought-after technical and soft skills, but it will also be a foundation step in your career path.
KTP is an Innovate UK-funded programme. If you are interested in finding out more, please visit the KTP webpage or send them an email. If you want to discuss your options, you can book a careers appointment.
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