Aston celebrates business partnership success

KTP Showcase winners resized

On Wednesday 2nd April 2014 Aston University held its annual Knowledge Transfer Showcase, raising awareness of the breadth and quality of its knowledge transfer activities. The poster event showcased Aston’s Knowledge Transfer projects carried out in partnership with local and national companies including Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP), Knowledge Exchange & Enterprise Networks (KEEN) and Technology Strategy Board funded CR&D projects. The event was attended by over 130 delegates comprised of academics, researchers and representatives from business and industry.

The KTP programme is a Technology Strategy Board initiative which aims to deliver transformational change through innovation; by improving the competitiveness, productivity and performance of UK businesses, increasing the commercial relevance of UK academic research and teaching, and enhancing the personal skills and commercial awareness of recently qualified people entering the workplace.

The Knowledge Exchange & Enterprise Network (KEEN), funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), helps West Midlands based organisations increase profitability and growth through working with a regional university. KEEN works by putting a recent graduate into an organisation to work on a strategic growth project, with ongoing support from experienced university experts. Companies benefit from part funding by the European Regional Development Fund, allowing them to recruit talented graduates and access cutting edge university knowledge throughout the duration of the project.

Aston University has completed over 120 KTP projects since the creation of the programme over 35 years ago. Aston is one of the most active universities for KTP in the Midlands and is number 1 in the UK for health-related KTPs.

The event included a poster competition where posters are produced by project teams showing key aims and benefits of their projects. The posters were judged by Dr Debbie Buckley-Golder, Head of Research Engagement, and Dr Clive Hayter, Head of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships at the Technology Strategy Board along with Aston’s Dr Phil Extance, Pro Vice Chancellor for Business Partnerships and Knowledge Transfer.

Winners and runners up were selected in two categories – Established Projects and Early Stage Projects.

Established Projects

Runner up – Krishna Balthu, Higgs & Sons

Krishna successfully completed a two-year KTP with award-winning West Midlands based law firm Higgs & Sons. He worked with leading academics from Aston Business School to implement an innovative programme of change to achieve transformation in culture and operations of the firm, to develop a sustainable competitive advantage and offer enhanced value-adding services to clients.

Winner – Neelam Patel, BBR Optometry

Neelam Patel is currently working on a three-year KTP at BBR Optometry Ltd, an independent privately owned primary care optometry practice. Neelam’s role on the project is to assess and quantify the social benefits of moving parts of the care pathway closer to the patient, for example, conducting treatment in the optometry practice rather than a hospital setting.

Early Stage Projects                                                            

Runner up – Dippica Mistry, My Time CIC (KEEN project)

Dippica Mistry is currently working on a two-year KEEN project with My Time Community Interest Company, who provide psychological and counselling services for families with domestic violence and mental health issues, who have children on Child Protection plans and they are at risk of being taken into care. Dippica is working with academics from Aston Business School to evaluate the impact of intervention with families referred from Birmingham Ciry Council Social Services and to develop a sustainable evaluation model to benchmark the effectiveness of the service intervention .

Winner – Raquel Gil Cazorla from Midland Eye

Raquel Gil Cazorla is working on a three-year KTP with Eye-Docs Ltd (trading as  Midland Eye), a privately owned secondary-care ophthalmology practice offering a one-stop, specialist service for the diagnosis and treatment of all eye conditions. Raquel is working with academics from Aston’s School of Life and Health Sciences to develop treatment models based on patient pathways, treatment regimens and outcomes for presbyopia and laser cataract surgery. This will enable the continual improvement of surgical techniques and give patients across the network of private hospitals, in the Aspen Healthcare group, the opportunity to access these new services.

We are extremely proud of our partnerships with both local and national companies.

Dr Phil Extance, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Business Partnerships and Knowledge Transfer at Aston University said: “Aston has a great record in knowledge transfer, which is a key driver in the region’s economy. Academics at Aston have a range of expertise in areas of Life and Health Sciences, Business, Engineering and Languages and by applying their knowledge to business operations we are improving competitiveness, productivity and performance.  We are extremely proud of our partnerships with both local and national companies and this event highlighted the range of research projects currently running at Aston. Delegates were shown how university expertise can be harnessed to help companies prosper in highly competitive national and international markets.”

For more information on KTP, please click here or contact the Business Development Team on 0121 204 4242.

For more information on KEEN, please click here or contact the Business Development Team on 0121 204 4242.

You can find the photos from the event here.

Notes to editors:

KEEN is financed by European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013.

The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information visit

  KTP or Knowledge Transfer Partnerships is Europe's leading programme helping businesses to improve their competitiveness by enabling companies to work with higher education or research and technology organisations to obtain knowledge, technology or skills which they consider to be of strategic competitive importance. The UK-wide programme is overseen by the Technology Strategy Board (, the UK’s innovation agency, and supported by 16 other public sector funding organisations.