A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between University of the West of Scotland (UWS) and digital media firm ISO has received the highest grade possible from the Innovate UK panel.
UWS and ISO first joined forces to undertake a KTP in July 2018. KTPs, which are overseen by Innovate UK, link businesses and 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.
ISO offers digital media and software design from their Glasgow studios, working on projects for big-name brands including BBC, Channel 4, Mercedes-Benz, IKEA, National Geographic and Siemens. The company specialises in the design, direction and build of large-scale interactive, immersive media projects.
The UWS-ISO project looked at ways to extend the firm’s services, exploring the market for immersive products such as 3D, virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality for installations in museums, galleries, visitor attractions and brand experience centres.
Damien Smith, Founder, ISO said “The KTP and UWS’s support allowed us the time and resources to explore a rapidly developing space, and to prototype a series of new concepts around next generation audience experiences.”
UWS’s Professor Nick Higgins, academic lead on the project and Director of the Creative Media Academy, added: “Working with ISO has been an incredibly positive experience, and we are delighted that the project has received an A-grade from Innovate UK.
“The academic input has really helped ISO to take their work to a new level – and I look forward to seeing the studio continue to grow.”
The A-graded KTP helped ISO accelerate their ambitions in terms of developing an in-house Innovation Lab, isoLABS – a sector first, and something only seen in much larger commercial companies. This has made a direct contribution towards securing several multi-year and multi-million-pound international commissions, from countries including Denmark and Oman and a major R&D award from Innovate UK, working with Tramway on developing new digital tools to assist with the post-Covid recovery of venues.
ISO is now seen as not just a design services supplier, but much more as a partner in the early-stage development of client projects, especially those with a strong innovation or research-led requirement.
Through the KTP programme, the academic partner employs a KTP Associate who works for the industry partner, with academic supervision. Following her experience on the project, ISO’s KTP Associate Verena Henn is now employed as Head of Research and Innovation by the studio, a major achievement in the male-dominated tech industry.
The ISO project received support from academics in UWS’s School of Business and Creative Industries, and School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences. It was funded by Innovate UK, alongside the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Scottish Funding Council.
“UWS’s work with ISO is a great example of what can be achieved through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership. This project has helped an innovative business to realise their full potential and to explore new avenues, with expert knowledge from academics in business, creative industries and computing.”
Stuart McKay, Senior KTP Manager, UWS
He continued: “This is the second A-graded project from UWS in recent months, truly showcasing how far the University has come in the field. 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.”
UWS’s KTP portfolio currently stands at 35 KTP projects with a combined value in excess of £7 million, positioning UWS as 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: “While the KTP programme is 45 years old, many businesses don’t know it exists – or how they can benefit from it.
“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 ISO are a fantastic example of this. As we enter a recession, now more than ever, businesses should be tapping into the expert knowledge that universities can provide.”