Knowledge Transfer Partnerships: Bringing knowledge and expertise from Keele University to local businesses

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) is designed to help businesses improve competitiveness and productivity through better use of knowledge, technology and skills, and takes the form of a three-way partnership between a business, Keele University and a talented graduate.

Keeling & Walker and Keele University collaborated through a KTP between 2016 and 2018, helping to support product development within the business.

Founded in the early 1900s, Keeling and Walker Ltd has been supplying local ceramics and other industries for more than a century. The Stoke-on-Trent-based company is now the largest producer of tin oxide materials in the world. Keeling and Walker also produce a number of speciality materials for applications in ceramics, polymers, electrical contacts and infrared functional devices.

Through their KTP with Keele University, Keeling and Walker developed nano-sized inorganic materials that can be used in a range of applications, including thermal barrier films for windows, laser marking and welding for plastics. Materials were later reviewed by clients and further developed to match their needs.

As well as providing a knowledgeable graduate to support the project, Keele University also ran two academic-led workshops that were developed with staff at Keeling and Walker.

Keeling and Walker’s Managing Director, Dr Dieter Guhl, commented: “The KTP project has influenced the company far beyond its original aim. We have now expanded our range of infra-red products that better suit the needs of our clients and have a responsive capacity to keep up with demand. It has been a huge benefit to the company in its trajectory as we become a more outward-facing business”.

“The KTP has been very positive - it brought academic expertise to the company and I would recommend it to anyone else that is looking to develop new products and grow their business. Without the collaboration of Keele University, the development of our new products would have taken considerably more time and money to create.”

Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent businesses can benefit from a range of specialist support and funding opportunities through Keele University’s Business Gateway. Interested companies should contact 01782 733001 or email business.gateway@keele.ac.uk for more details, or visit keele.ac.uk/business.