Knowledge Transfer Partnership guidance - Innovate UK



Since 1975, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) have been helping businesses innovate for growth.

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

Right now, around 800 businesses, 100 knowledge bases and over 800 graduates are involved in KTPs in our unique collaborative, partnerships creating positive impact and driving innovation.

The academic partner (known as the knowledge base) will work with a business to:

  • develop the project
  • provide academic input
  • recruit a suitable graduate, known as an associate.

They will act as the employer of the associate, who then works at the business for the majority of the project.

There are two 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.

Get a closer look at a selection of current KTP projects

Who can take part

Each KTP is a three-way partnership between:

  • a UK-based business of any size including not-for-profit organisations such as social enterprises and charities
  • a 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 help you to develop your business, by helping solve a challenge 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.

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 associates salary
  • mentoring, training and development
  • travel and subsistence

KTP typically pays:

  • 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

Businesses will need to fund the remaining cost of the project, but can normally use research and development (R&D) tax relief to recoup some of these costs. In order 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

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 UK Research and Innovation 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.

How to apply

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 go via 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 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

KTP applications can only be submitted by a registered knowledge base.

A KTP application must be completed jointly by the prospective business and the knowledge base. Each application is supported by a knowledge transfer adviser appointed by Innovate UK.

It should include information about each of the participants, their objectives, the proposed tasks and deliverables for the associate.

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 all KTP competitions, including African Agriculture KTP (AA KTP), which will run twice during 2023 to 2024.

Round Open date Close date
KTP round 4, 2022 to 2023 19 September 2022 16 November 2022
KTP round 5, 2022 to 2023 21 November 2022 25 January 2023
KTP round 1, 2023 to 2024 30 January 2023 29 March 2023
AA KTP Round 1 2023 to 2024 6 February 2023 22 March 2023
KTP round 2, 2023 to 2024 27 March 2023 17 May 2023
KTP round 3, 2023 to 2024 22 May 2023 5 July 2023
KTP round 4, 2023 to 2024 10 July 2023 6 September 2023
AA KTP round 2, 2023 to 2024 10 July 2023 6 September 2023
KTP round 5, 2023 to 2024 11 September 2023 1 November 2023
KTP round 6, 2023 to 2024 6 November 2023 13 December 2023
KTP round 7, 2023 to 2024 18 December 2023 7 February 2024

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: 10 November 2022

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