Knowledge Transfer Partnership guidance - Innovate UK



Since 1975, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) have been helping businesses and organisations innovate for growth. They are unique collaborative partnerships between businesses and universities, colleges, research organisations and Catapults. KTPs create positive impact and drive innovation.

KTPs connect forward thinking businesses with the UK’s world class knowledge bases to deliver a business led innovation projects.

KTPs are developed to solve a specific, strategic innovation challenge faced by the business partner. They can be for almost any kind of project; you can get a better understanding of the types of projects we have previously supported on our Insights page.

Right now, around 800 businesses, 100 knowledge bases and over 800 graduates are involved in KTPs.

There are 2 types of KTP:

  • classic KTPs focus on developing new or better products and services
  • management KTPs focus on developing better businesses by enhancing processes and building management capability

A KTP project can last between 12 and 36 months, depending on the challenge and the needs of the business.

We occasionally run a competition for international KTP’s, with specific country and sector requirements; knowledge bases will be aware if this type of KTP is available.

Who can take part

Each KTP is a partnership between:

  • a UK-based business of any size. This includes not-for-profit organisations such as social enterprises, charities and some public sector organisations. Within KTP these partners are always referred to as ‘the business’
  • a registered knowledge base. This could be a university, college, research and technology organisation or Catapult in the UK
  • a suitably qualified graduate, with the capability to lead a strategic business project

KTP for businesses

Taking part in a KTP can benefit your business by helping solve a specific challenge that your business is facing. You can get access to academic expertise and resources that you don’t have in-house.

Working with your academic partner you will improve your business processes and performance, helping you to become more competitive and productive.

KTP for the public sector

Some public sector organisations are eligible to apply for a management KTP. This will help public sector organisations work with experts from their chosen knowledge base to improve systems, processes, and management capabilities.

The following UK based public sector bodies may apply for a management KTP:

  • non-departmental public bodies and arm’s length bodies (ALBs)
  • NHS organisations
  • local authorities, bodies owned and controlled by local authorities
  • government owned companies, nationalised industries, most trading funds, regulators

Bodies not eligible for KTP funding include:

  • all councils, organisations and businesses owned or operated either wholly or partially by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) or one of its councils
  • Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA)
  • central government departments and the devolved administrations

What will it cost?

A KTP is part-funded by a grant. A typical KTP project delivers a package of support valued at around £80,000 to £100,000 per year. This includes the costs of:

  • the academic team
  • project consumables
  • the associate’s salary
  • mentoring, training and development
  • travel and subsistence

The proportion of the costs covered by KTP varies according to several factors including the size of the business or group and the type of knowledge base you choose to work with. Typically, the grant rates are:

  • 75% of project costs for not-for-profit businesses of any size
  • 67% of project costs for micro, small and medium-sized businesses
  • 50% of project costs for large businesses and public sector organisations

Businesses will need to fund the remaining cost of the project but may be able to use research and development (R&D) tax relief to recoup some of these costs. To access R&D tax relief, businesses will need to speak with their accountant or seek other professional advice.

The size of your business is determined by several factors, which will be discussed in detail if you make an application, including:

  • number of employees
  • turnover
  • location
  • if the business is part of group of businesses
  • evidence of charitable status (where applicable)
  • evidence of public sector status (where applicable)

KTP for knowledge bases

Knowledge base partners who take part in a KTP create on average more than three new research projects and two research papers for each project.

Most knowledge bases have a dedicated KTP office. These offices work with the business and academic partners who intend to collaborate together to scope out the project. They can also help with the application to Innovate UK.

Become a KTP knowledge base

Check to see if your university, college, research and technology organisation or catapult is listed on our find local advice page.

Eligible research organisations must be UK based and approved by UKRI or be a member of the Association for Innovation, Research and Technology Organisations.

Eligible institutions should contact their nearest knowledge transfer adviser for more information about the process required to become a KTP knowledge base.

Starting your application

Each application must be led by a knowledge base, working with a business.

If you already have a partnership with knowledge base or know who you would like to work with on a KTP, you should develop your application with that organisation’s KTP office.

If you’re interested in taking part in a KTP but don’t already have a knowledge base partner, you should contact Innovate UK Business Connect (formerly Innovate UK KTN). They will:

  • check the feasibility of your idea and tell you if it is suitable
  • help you contact knowledge bases that can assist you in developing a KTP application

Submitting an application

Developing a KTP application takes time and requires the business and the knowledge base to work closely together. Once complete the application can only be submitted by the knowledge base.

All applications are supported by a knowledge transfer adviser appointed by Innovate UK. The adviser will provide the knowledge base and business with guidance throughout the application process. To support all projects equitably, the adviser may set milestones during the development of the application.

To review projects funded by Innovate UK you can explore our transparency data.

What happens after you apply

KTPs are competitively awarded to the best projects in each competition round.  Applications are reviewed by an expert group of assessors. You will normally be notified of the outcome within 12 weeks or less of the competition closing.

If your partnership is successful you will then receive a formal grant offer letter.

Once our offer is accepted you can begin to recruit an associate. Recruitment should be undertaken jointly by the knowledge base and business partner. The associate’s contract of employment will be with the knowledge base.

Dates and deadlines

The KTP programme runs continuously throughout the year. This table contains the list of current open and close dates for KTP competitions for classic and management KTP and African agriculture KTP. Dates for Accelerated Knowledge Transfer (AKT) competitions will be advertised separately.

Round Open date Close date
KTP round six, 2023 to 2024 6 November 2023 31 January 2024
KTP round one, 2024 to 2025 13 February 2024 10 April 2024
KTP round two, 2024 to 2025 15 April 2024 26 June 2024
KTP round three, 2024 to 2025 1 July 2024 25 September 2024
KTP round four, 2024 to 2025 30 September 2024 4 December 2024
KTP round five, 2024 to 2025 2 December 2024 5 February 2025
KTP round one, 2025 to 2026 10 February 2025 9 April 2025

All competitions are listed on the Innovation Funding Service.

KTP for graduates

KTP is one of the UK’s largest graduate recruitment programmes. There are over 300 job opportunities each year for graduates (known as ‘associates’) to lead KTP projects.

Successful completion of a KTP project often leads to a permanent job.

Every associate is given a dedicated training and development budget that supports:

  • developmental training that is specifically required for the project
  • training that helps the all-round development of the associate

KTP roles are advertised by the knowledge base and successful applicants will have an employment contract with them, but you will primarily be working for the business.

As most KTPs are full time roles, it can be difficult to juggle the demands of completing a course or submitting a thesis, so these need to be completed before the likely start date of a KTP graduate role.

You can find more information and opportunities at:

Last updated: 18 April 2024

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