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Knowledge transfer partnerships (KTP): 2020 to 2021, round 5


UK-registered higher or further education institutions, RTOs or Catapults can apply for a share of up to £10million to help fund innovation projects with businesses.

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) scheme allows a UK-registered business or not-for-profit organisation (which will be referred to collectively as the ‘business partner’ from now on) to partner with a UK higher education (HE) or further education (FE) institution, RTO or Catapult (which will be referred to as the ‘knowledge base partner’).

This new partnership brings new skills and the latest academic thinking into the business partner to deliver a specific, strategic innovation project. The knowledge base partner will recruit one or two graduates (known as ‘associates’) to work on the project.

In this round, Innovate UK is investing up to £10million towards the funding of projects, with the business partners in the funded projects also contributing to the costs.

Additionally, £2million is available for Management KTP projects that focus on improving productivity within a business, with the business partners also contributing to the project costs.

Each application must be led by a knowledge base, working with a business partner. If you are from a knowledge base that has not yet developed a project, get started by reading the KTP guidance. If you are from a business, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network.

Visit the KTP website to find out more about the programme and the current roles available for graduates.

Innovate UK will consider partially funding project costs of any amount if they judge the costs to be appropriate. Typically, projects cost no more than £75,000 per year. A proportion of this will be paid by the business partner.

Open Date:


Close Date:


Your application must be for a specific, strategic innovation project that tackles one or more challenges faced by the business partner. It can be any kind of project but it must show:

  • That it helps the business with a real need
  • How it fits the strategic aims of the business partner
  • There is a genuine market opportunity and route to market
  • How the knowledge gained will be embedded within the business partner
  • The commercial impact for the business partner, and any wider impacts
  • That you have a clear understanding of what qualifications, skills, attributes and experience the associate will need

The knowledge base partner and the business partner must sign a joint commitment statement.

This award is provided on a non-aid basis. This means the knowledge base partner must publish or make openly available, on a non-selective basis, all project outputs. If the business partner decides to commercially exploit the project outputs, it can only do so with no selective advantage.

Innovate UK is unable to award grant funding to organisations meeting the condition known as undertakings in difficulty (UID). However, as per the amendment on 2 July 2020 to the General Block Exemption regulation, they will provide funding to organisations that can prove they were not a UID on the date of 31 December 2019 but became a UID between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2021. You will be asked for evidence of this.

Each KTP is a partnership between the following:

  • A knowledge base, which will be the lead organisation and submit the application
  • A UK-registered business or not-for-profit organisation

Your project can last between 12 and 36 months, depending on the project requirements.

KTP does not support projects with public sector organisations.

Knowledge base partner

Each application must be created by a knowledge base, working with a business partner, with the help of a knowledge transfer adviser.

The knowledge base partner must lead the project and must:

  • Be a UK-registered higher education (HE) or further education (FE) institution, RTO or Catapult
  • Invite one UK-registered business of any size or not-for-profit organisation into the Innovation Funding Service
  • Invite one knowledge transfer adviser
  • Not act in any way to gain selective commercial or economic advantage from the outputs of the project
  • Recruit associate roles in a demonstrably open and fair manner
  • Allow associates to carry out the majority of the project at the business partner’s premises
  • Make sure the application is completed and submitted before the competition closes
  • Provide academic support for the associate

The knowledge base partner cannot work alone.

Your business partner must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the knowledge base partner to collaborate on a project. When the business partner accepts their invitation, they will need to:

  • Login or create an account
  • Enter estimates of their own project costs, which may be updated as part of the final reporting process

Business partner

Business partners can work with a knowledge base of their choice. Innovate UK encourage business partners to approach knowledge bases directly.

To collaborate with the knowledge base, the business partner must:

  • Be a UK-registered business, of any size, or a not-for-profit organisation
  • Have more than two employees
  • Demonstrate its ability to financially support its contribution to the project
  • Be invited by the knowledge base partner and complete its parts of the application
  • Provide a summary of their financial accounts from the past three years
  • Provide supervisory support for the associate
  • Host the associate

The definition KTP uses for ‘not-for-profit organisation’ includes social enterprises and charities.

Innovate UK use the term ‘business partner’ for both businesses and not-for-profit organisations.


Subcontractors are not allowed in this competition.

Innovate UK will consider partially funding project costs of any amount if they judge the costs to be appropriate. Typically, projects cost about £75,000 per year.

Find out which project costs are eligible for funding.

Contribution from Innovate UK

Innovate UK has allocated up to £10million in this round of the KTP programme, which will contribute towards the total costs of the individual projects.

KTP is financially supported by:

  • Invest Northern Ireland
  • Scottish Funding Council
  • Welsh Government
  • Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
  • UKRI – Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
  • UKRI – Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
  • UKRI – Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
  • UKRI – Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • UKRI – Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
  • UKRI – Science and Technology Facilities Council
  • UKRI – Innovate UK

Your project may be funded wholly or in part by one or more of the KTP financial supporters. You can ask to receive support from a specific financial supporter in your application.

Typically Innovate UK and its financial supporters provide projects with:

  • 67% of eligible project costs for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • 50% of eligible project costs for large businesses

Contribution from the business partner

The business partner in your application must also provide funding. The amount depends on the:

  • Total eligible project costs
  • Duration of the project
  • Size of the business
  • Registered location of the business
  • Location of the project

Additionally, the business partner must fund:

  • The time spent on the project by their own staff
  • Other non-eligible costs such as the purchase of capital equipment.

State aid

This competition provides funding that is classed as non-aid. The business partner should seek independent legal advice on what this means for it, before applying.

Non-aid is only granted to organisations which declare that they will not use the funding:

  • In any way which gives them selective economic or commercial advantage
  • In any other way which would determine the funding as state aid as defined by the EC

It is important to note that it is the activity the business partner intends to perform in the project which is assessed as eligible for non-aid, and not the business as an entity.

Application rules

Multiple applications

Each knowledge base can collaborate on any number of applications.

Each business partner (including separate businesses with a business group) can take part in up to four KTP funded projects at any one time. Additional applications may be allowed at the discretion of the programme manager.

Previously submitted applications

You cannot use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

Innovate UK will not award you funding if you have:

  • Failed to exploit a previously funded project
  • Failed to comply with grant terms and conditions

Innovate UK are not funding:

  • Projects which are classed as state aid
  • Undertakings which gain a selective economic or commercial advantage from the funding
  • Research projects
  • Projects that are not strategic for the business partner
  • Projects that work with public sector organisations
  • Projects that do not demonstrate a genuine market opportunity

Cresco Innovation works with companies to develop and implement innovation strategies. We help client companies identify opportunities to develop new products and services, and then create a package of support to ensure that the idea is turned into a commercial reality.

Our services include securing grants (as a team we have raised around £40million over three years), business planning, IP advice, access to finance and funders, project management and IP commercialisation support.

We regularly act as the interface with the funding bodies and help clients ensure that their projects are properly managed to ensure the best outcome for all.

Call to find out more

If you’d like to know more about this competition, please give us a call on 01509 261182 and one of our team will be delighted to help you access this funding opportunity for your business.