University of the West of Scotland’s (UWS) Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) work with award-winning Scottish sensors firm Novosound Limited has received the highest possible grade from Innovate UK.
KTPs link businesses to world-class academic partners in the UK to drive innovation through collaboration, bring about change and embed new knowledge, skills and capability. Projects address a specific business need, which is identified by the company.
The Novosound project is the third UWS KTP to be awarded the highest ‘outstanding’ grade by Innovate UK in the last six months, alongside digital media firm ISO and technology company Modo Systems.
Academics from UWS’s Institute of Thin Films, Sensors and Imaging (ITFSI) worked with Novosound – a UWS spinout company led by Professor Dave Hughes, a member of the Institute’s industrial advisory group – to further develop a thin film material produced by the firm.
The KTP has helped to take the existing sensor, targeted at various Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) markets including oil and gas market, to a robust commercial-grade version, designed for large scale manufacturing. This will enhance current performance, reduce production costs through economies of scale and accelerate sales in existing oil and gas markets as well opening new growth market opportunities for low-cost ultrasonic sensors in aerospace, automotive, dental and medical imaging.
“This KTP has been crucial in helping Novosound further develop and enhance the performance of our unique and innovative, thin film ultrasound technology. Working with a world-class research facility such as The Institute of Thin Films, Sensors and Imaging has enabled us to develop ground-breaking NDT products which offer simple and efficient inspections, potentially saving companies millions of dollars in downtime.
Professor Hughes, Founding Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Novosound, who is also a visiting professor at UWS, added: “Being the first spin-out company to come out of UWS, I look forward to continuing working together with UWS to deliver high-quality projects and fulfil new and exciting commercial opportunities for Novosound’s NDT technology.”
Professor Des Gibson, director of ITFSI at UWS and lead academic on the project, added: “Our work with Novosound is a shining example of what can be achieved when industry and academia come together.
“While KTPs have obvious advantages for business, it’s a great opportunity for our academics too. For the Institute of Thin Films, Sensors and Imaging, this project gave us the chance to put our skills and knowledge into practice and see the real-world impact of our work. I look forward to seeing what more we can achieve together going forward.”
As part of the project, Novosound made use of the University’s new thin films laboratory which opened last year. Thanks to the £12 million upgrade, the Paisley-based lab is now home to some of the most advanced thin films equipment in the country. The Institute of Thin Films, Sensors and Imaging is currently working on two KTPs with other firms, and is supporting colleagues from the University on a further two projects.
As well as giving companies access to expert knowledge and facilities, the programme also helps to develop fresh talent. Through the KTP programme, the academic partner employs a KTP associate, a recent graduate who works for the industry partner with academic supervision. Mhairi Rogan is now employed full-time with the company as a thin films process scientist following her successful work throughout the associateship.
“To have received a hat-trick of top grades from the Innovate UK KTP panel in the last six months is fantastic news for UWS, and further proof that our work with industry is going from strength to strength. We’ve gone from having just three projects two-and-a-half years ago, outside the top-50 in the UK, to over 30 today – and we’re delivering fantastic results too.”
Stuart McKay Senior KTP manager added: “Working with our academics gives businesses like Novosound access to the knowledge and facilities required to take their work to the next level and to progress their business.”
TOP IN SCOTLAND
The University is currently third in the UK and number one in Scotland by size of its KTP portfolio. With 12 management KTPs in process, UWS’s School of Business and Creative Industries occupies the top spot in the UK. In 2020, UWS was also announced as the first Scottish institution to undertake a new African KTP, working with academic and industry partners in Kenya.
Professor Milan Radosavljevic, Vice-Principal and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Engagement at UWS, added: “I am delighted that UWS has produced three top-graded KTP projects in the last six months, testament to the fantastic work that is coming out of our KTP Centre and from our academics.
“KTPs give organisations across a wide range of industries the chance to access up-to-the-minute research and sector-leading expertise, while addressing business challenges, and our work with Novosound is another outstanding example of what can be achieved. As we enter a recession, now more than ever, businesses should be tapping into the expert knowledge that universities can provide.”