Knowledge transfer partnerships

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) are one of the biggest schemes we fund as part of our commitment to knowledge exchange. The KTP scheme's mission is to strengthen the UK's competitiveness and wealth creation by enabling research organisations to apply their research knowledge to important business problems.

Background and aims

At the heart of each KTP is a relationship between a company/organisation and staff in a knowledge base institution. The institution's staff apply their expertise to a project that will help the development of their collaborative partner. The project is carried out by an associate (a recent graduate or postgraduate), who also benefits from an organised training programme. In the process, the business relevance of the knowledge base institution is enhanced.

The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) have produced a brochure that describes how KTPs can help to innovate and grow your business:

KTP funding

The KTP scheme is financially supported by a number of sponsors, the largest of which is the Technology Strategy Board who are responsible for managing the scheme. Other Research Councils are also involved as are the Welsh Government and The Scottish Government. Participating businesses and organisational partners also contribute to each project.

ESRC funding criteria

We encourage proposals from any discipline or subject area within the social sciences, where these fit within the remit and the overall aims of KTPs. We support projects in the private, public and third sectors which involve the application and co-production of social science knowledge. 

The funding criteria for KTPs has now been harmonised across funding bodies: 

Dissemination of impacts and outcomes

We actively encourage KTPs to engage with other stakeholders to disseminate results, impacts and outcomes.

KTP Awards

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership Awards take place annually. They celebrate the achievements of partnerships completed in the previous year. Each year, we sponsor an award for the best application of management or social science.

The 2012 award for the most effective application of economic and social research to a KTP was awarded to Harriet Knowles, the University of Plymouth and Falmouth Harbour Commissioners. This KTP helped Falmouth Harbour Commissioners develop the knowledge and expertise they needed to identify and understand potential environmental and socio-economic impacts on the harbour, their business, and the region. The partnership also had a considerable financial impact, and looked at opportunities to develop the facilities and to increase leisure use, taking into account any potential environmental impacts. 

The KTP enabled Falmouth Harbour Commissioners to identify issues earlier and communicate more effectively with campaign groups and regulatory bodies, making them aware of wider socio-economic issues, alongside environmental ones, mitigating some of the risks. The associate, Harriet Knowles, successfully drove the stakeholder engagement, forging mutually beneficial partnerships with Plymouth University and other academic and scientific institutions.

Details of previous award winners:

KTP case studies

The following case studies provide examples of the range of ESRC-funded KTP projects and their wider impact.


You can find further details about KTPs, including contact details for KTP Offices and KTP Advisers, on the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships website.