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9 December, 2017 - 20:26 By Kate Sweeney

AI projects propel Essex University into UK top five

A sector leading seven Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) were awarded to the University of Essex recently, placing it in the top five in the UK for business engagement.

University of Essex researchers are now working on 23 KTP projects with many related to artificial intelligence.

Funded through Innovate UK, KTPs are a UK-wide programme that helps businesses innovate through targeted collaboration with leading academics and highly qualified and motivated graduates.

Essex is already the leading university in the East of England and London for KTPs and the programme is recognised as a key vehicle for ensuring our research impacts our community and the economy.

The scope of new partnerships at Essex stretches across London and the Eastern region. Essex is now working with MSX International which has its UK headquarters in Colchester, DataSpartan, and Filament, who are London-based tech companies and Objective Computing in Chelmsford on projects linked to AI, a technology recently cited as “the future of business” by CBI president Paul Drechsler.

Award-winning London-based business intelligence specialist Signal Media has also signed up for its second partnership thanks to the unprecedented success of its first KTP – which saw them secure investment of over £5.8 million. The initial KTP transformed Signal so significantly the enterprise was named KTP of the year in the 2015 'Best of the Best' awards. The business also grew from a three-person operation to a rapidly growing startup with 30 employees.

Robert Walker, KTP Manager said: “The KTP team at Essex try to apply ‘business principles’ to the way we engage with industry – being responsive, empathetic to business pressures and highly driven to secure funding and initiate innovative projects which complements our research.

“It is sometimes difficult for companies to identify how to access university expertise, so part of our strategy is to break through this barrier and work closely with business to identify how we can help them innovate and grow.

“Our recent KTP success was praised by Bernard Jenkin MP in a debate in the House of Commons in November this year, where he highlighted our UK ranking for business engagement and noted he was ‘enormously proud’ of our work.
“Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills Anne Milton MP reinforced the impact of our business collaborations. She said: ‘The university’s work is hugely beneficial, with both students and businesses standing to benefit a great deal from these opportunities.’”

• PHOTOGRAPH: Dr Miguel Martinez, Professor Udo Kruschwitz, and David Benigson (CEO) formed the successful University of Essex and Signal Knowledge Transfer Partnership.

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