UWE Bristol celebrating world Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Day 2022 

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UWE Bristol are proud to work with many Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) across the region. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for up to 90% of businesses, 60% to 70% of employment, and they account for half of global GDP, according to the United Nations.  

To celebrate World MSME Day 2022 we are sharing some recent work and projects with MSMEs.  

In this short video, we highlight three SMEs we worked with as part of our Scale Up 4 Growth Scheme. In partnership with NatWest and Foot Anstey, we gave SMEs access to grant funding and business support to help them scale up. In the below video we hear from The Bristol Loaf, Wiper and True and 299 Lighting about how the funding has helped transform their business.  

Spotlight on Bristol 24/7  

Bristol 24/7 are one of many MSMEs we are supporting through our Skills for Clean Growth programme and our Digital Skills programme.  Below is some feedback from Meg Houghton-Gilmour, Community and Memberships Manager.

Tell us a bit about what you are doing as an organisation to support sustainability goals in the region? 

At Bristol24/7 we’re really proud to be in the process of recruiting a dedicated climate and sustainability editor. We are the first local media organisation to do so as far as we know, and we’ve created this role to engage conversation, inspire people to take action, hold authorities and companies to account and report on the positive work already ongoing in Bristol.  

This is alongside our work to become more sustainable as an organisation. We are currently working with Action Net Zero to assess our carbon footprint, from which we will set goals to minimise our impact on the planet.  

We believe that working together is the best way to tackle the climate crisis. One of the defining values of our Better Business network is sustainability and we share ideas, opportunities and resources with our business members at our quarterly meetings.  

What steps have you taken to ensure you have a diverse workforce to drive forward these aims? 

Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of all of Bristol24/7s plans. We recognise there are considerable barriers to working in journalism and we are aiming to level the playing field at every opportunity. We are continuously improving our recruitment process to make it welcoming and accessible to all those who are interested in working with us. We have redesigned our work experience programme and we are working to introduce a career ladder so that those who have their first taste of journalism with us are invited back for longer placements and interviews for entry level positions.  

We work with the most underrepresented areas of Bristol to train new journalists in our community reporters programme. Our entire team take part in setting our goals and strategy for the year ahead and every voice is heard; we believe this allows for more robust decision making and creativity which are essential when tackling problems such as the climate crisis.  

What support have you received from UWE Bristol, and how has it contributed to these aims? 

We’re extremely grateful to UWE Bristol for their support. Over the last 12 months, our team have benefitted from Digital Skills support and training which has informed our membership strategy. We now also have a stronger marketing strategy which helps us capitalise on the support from our community and grow our membership – the result of which is that we can offer more work experience placements, train more community reporters and work with charity partners. 

More recently, members of our team have also taken part in the Skills for Clean Growth workshops. We already feel more confident in addressing our own carbon output, and we look forward to attending more workshops as we set our new goals, induct our climate editor and take the next steps on our sustainability journey.  

What successes have you seen as a result of the above work? 

In the last year we have seen a 30% growth in our membership, which has provided us with the resource to grow our team, including interns from UWE Bristol, and increase our social impact work. 

Workshops for MSMEs 

Are you a Gloucestershire business looking to scale?​ 

Digital Scale-Up for your Business

Hosted in the Advanced Digital Academy at Gloucestershire College in Cheltenham on Monday 11 & Tuesday 12 July 2022.  

Find out more and register

Growth through Innovation workshop 

5 & 6 July 2022, 09:00 – 16:30 

Business Cyber Centre, Chippenham 

A practical workshop to support your business in creating, communicating and funding innovation, free to SMEs in the Swindon & Wiltshire area. 

Find out more and register

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships  

The Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) scheme is a UK-wide programme helping businesses to improve competitiveness and productivity. We embed a recent graduate within your business and give you access to our academic expertise to help you transform your business.  

View some of our KTP case studies

Green Skills for Jobs and Entrepreneurship  

We recently supported more than 70 young people to complete the first stage of a transformational ‘first of its kind’ green skills training programme. 

The programme aimed to provide access to green jobs, training and business opportunities to Black, Asian and minoritised young people (aged 18-28), and recent graduates living in Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset. 

Get in touch  

We are always keen to work with MSMEs so please do get in touch to discuss how we can support you and your business uwebusiness@ac.uk  

Opportunities for recent graduates with our Knowledge Transfer Partnership scheme

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The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) scheme is a UK-wide programme helping businesses to improve competitiveness and productivity.

Run for nearly 50 years and now funded by Innovate UK, KTPs have helped fund over 12,000 businesses and increased their innovation and growth.

A KTP is a great opportunity to fast-track your career. We currently have two vacancies for recent graduates to work with businesses at part of a KTP.

Both opportunities are a 24-month fixed term contract. Each role includes management and business skills training provided by the national KTP programme and a further £2k per annum dedicated training budget tailored towards your personal development.

Specialist support from the academic team at UWE Bristol are provided and on completion of the KTP project it is the company’s intention to offer on-going employment to the right candidate.

Business Change Analyst (Digital Transformation & Leadership): My Cookie Dough

 The role of the KTP Associate will help identify, evaluate, and target new markets for the company’s management systems. This will require market research, marketing communication improvements, and the implementation of new organisational processes and practices.

About My Cookie Dough:

Based locally in Warmley, Bristol, My Cookie Dough Ltd are a highly-skilled, professional dessert company that specialises in baked cookie dough dessert. Their mission is to spread happiness with Cookie Dough, and do it in a way that is ethically good and sustainable.

Business and Marketing Innovation Lead: PB Shop

The role of the KTP Associate will help identify business improvements and optimisation and will help with the expansion and scale into new markets by enhancing existing and introducing new management capabilities.

About PBShop

Based in Fairford, Gloucestershire, PBShop is a recently established Employee-Owend Trust (EOP) that carries a 20-year legacy of autocratic leadership.  The vision is to empower employees to adopt the cultural mindset of collective leadership.  PBShop are the first fully virtual bookseller supplying books around the world.  UK’s largest virtual inveotruy book supplier working with all the world’s largest marketplace sellers, wholesalers and retail customers.

Knowledge Transfer Partnership Case Study: Flexys

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The Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) scheme is a UK-wide programme helping businesses to improve competitiveness and productivity. A recent graduate is placed within an organisation to help solve a business problem, with access to our academic expertise.

The below case study is from our KTP with Flexys Solutions:

About Flexys Solutions

Flexys provides innovative debt management software for companies who offer credit, e.g. financial services and utilities providers. It is based in Bristol and was formed in 2016 by a team of experienced debt management solution specialists looking to dramatically improve on the status quo in the industry.

The challenge the KTP set out to address

There is a need from utility companies and finance providers to obtain sophisticated insights into their customer’s individual needs and also to predict when early intervention may be beneficial. The objective of the project was to integrate Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technology within Flexys’ software, to enable more effective management of debt resolution and improvement of customer relationships and retention. The ability to more accurately collect relevant data, predict trends and customer behaviours will provide much better tools for the management of repayment plans, thus leading to a high percentage of debt resolution, but also to an improvement in long term customer retention.

UWE Bristol is one of the UK’s leaders in ML / AI. Working in partnership ensured that an appropriate solution was developed that is practical and effective but cognisant of acceptable practices and regulatory boundaries. Currently, this technology is not used commercially in this particular industry; the KTP model offered the opportunity to accelerate its integration into Flexys’ systems, enabling systems to reach the market sooner.

The Solution

Solving this challenge involved creating an innovative machine learning solution, in a collaborative effort drawing upon the expertise from UWE Bristol and domain knowledge from Flexys. Gaining in depth knowledge of the available data was key, along with finding a creative way of using machine learning to extract the information and predictions that were needed.

The Flexys Platform

What changed as a result of the KTP?

Impact and Benefits:

Flexys:

Flexys have benefitted from the expertise provided by the KTP to develop their AI/ML solution. Knowledge and skills have been transferred to Flexys’ R&D team to continue developing and maintaining the product. 

The Knowledge Base:

Dr Mehmet Aydin is Senior Lecturer in Computer Science and has long-standing experience in solving real-world problems using AI, machine learning and soft computing methods. Dr Jim Smith is a Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Deputy Director of UWE Bristol’s Computer Science Research Centre. His interests include computational intelligence, machine learning, and interactions between humans and intelligent systems.

The KTP resulted in new research opportunities for the Knowledge Base, including a paper which has been submitted to one of the top journals in AI. It has deepened their experience and understanding of commercial applications of machine learning within the financial technology industry, guiding direction for future research efforts.

The Associate

Hannah Dockings holds a BSc Mathematics from the University of Exeter. Machine learning is her primary interest, sitting at the intersection of maths, statistics and computer science. From working with UWE Bristol, Hannah has developed the confidence and ability for both herself and the company to continue researching new AI/ML methods in future. At the same time, she has gained industry and project management experience that would have been hard to get so early in her career without the KTP scheme.

KTP Associate Hannah winning a Sparkie award at the Tech Spark awards

The Results

Flexys expect this work to develop into a significant revenue stream for the company. It has had a significant impact on Flexys’ sales and marketing effort by establishing them as an innovative and forward-thinking company above competitors.

What the partners have to say:

Jon Hickman, CEO, Flexys Solutions Ltd

“The KTP work Hannah and the team have done has been of great value to Flexys enabling us to position ourselves as innovators in the field of Debt Management technology. This is especially impressive given the corporate giants we compete against. In addition, it has significantly contributed to the sales and marketing effort. We’re proud of the head start we have made in data, analytics and machine learning and we see this developing into a significant revenue stream for the company in the form of DSaaS – Data Science as a Service”

Dr Mehmet Aydin, Senior Lecturer in Computer Science, UWE Bristol

“This project has facilitated a very productive process to implement the recent research results and find out the strengths and weaknesses. It was a privilege to work with Flexys and the associate in this project. On the basis of the results produced by the associate, a fresher idea has emerged to model very dynamic customer behaviours and adapt to seasonal changes.” 

This partnership received financial support from the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) programme. KTP aims to help businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK knowledge base. This successful Knowledge Transfer Partnership project, funded by UK Research and Innovation through Innovate UK, is part of the government’s Industrial Strategy.

Download the full case study below:

Find out more about Knowledge Transfer Partnerships at UWE Bristol.

Knowledge Transfer Partnership Case Study: Lyons Davidson

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The Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) scheme is a UK-wide programme helping businesses to improve competitiveness and productivity. A recent graduate is placed within an organisation to help solve a business problem, with access to our academic expertise.

The below case study is from our KTP with Lyons Davidson:

About Lyons Davidson

Lyons Davidson is a national law firm providing legal services to businesses and individuals. It has been operating across the UK for over 40 years with offices in Cardiff, Leeds, Edinburgh, and headquarters in Bristol.

Lyons Davidson is a responsible business with certification for the quality of its approach to its impact on the environment, the security of its systems and the investment it makes in its people.

Innovation, along with client experience, has been fundamental to Lyons Davidson’s success. An emphasis in delivering this cost-effectively is leading the company to seek digital solutions whilst offering various online tools to maintain its competitive edge and expand its business.

Lyons Davidson logo

The challenge the KTP set out to address

Reforms on costs recovery in the personal injury market will consolidate the number of providers and increase business opportunities and new client acquisition for the remaining providers. This means the volume of personal injury claims for the remaining providers will increase putting further pressure on their relevant teams. More than 50% of Lyons Davidson’s business resides in personal injury claims and remaining in the business requires a lean and effective processes.

The current legal advice helpline is operated via graduate employees and qualified staff and providing this service on a 24-7 basis adds to the overall cost of the service. The business was also looking for a solution to improve the customer journey where calls could be triaged but a call back needed to be arranged as the relevant advisor was not available.

The aim is to integrate an intelligent system built on Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning within the existing call handling system to support claimants and provide information relevant to their enquiry/claim which can then lead to further action.

Implementation of a technologically advanced helpline will deliver the level of service that Lyons Davidson is recognised for, increasing client satisfaction and company reputation.

Why was the KTP the right mechanism to achieve this?

The KTP structure provided the most appropriate model for achieving the project goal, enabling Lyons Davidson to maximise the potential of the Legal Advice system and transform the business. It allowed Lyons Davidson to grow its expertise in AI/ML and innovative service delivery using knowledge based on cutting edge research from a leading University AI research group, which would have been difficult to obtain via consultancy.

There was no off-the-shelf option that the company could consider as current AI/ML advice services are typically offering primary advice and information on subject areas where there is less risk tied to potential incorrect information. What was created through this KTP was bespoke and highly refined.

Had Lyons Davidson considered recruiting an AI practitioner directly, it may have been more challenging to find someone with the precise skill sets required as practitioner skill sets vary greatly. Academic involvement in the project removed any risk associated with potentially recruiting the wrong skill set.

The solution

Through initial research and implementation of currently available dialog management solutions and expertise in conversational AI from UWE, together with the KTP associate it was possible to identify gaps in currently available systems which centred on current natural language processing challenges and challenges with scalability.

This lead to the development of a user led tasked orientated dialog management system based on a novel extension of Behaviour trees, more commonly associated with games development, where conversation knowledge is separate from the underlying system and a simpler, more visual interface for design, development and debugging.

What changed as a result of the KTP?

Impact and Benefits

For Lyons Davidson:
  • Cost savings and efficiencies through automation to parts of the client journey in relation to their legal claim life cycle.
  • Automation of client interactions has allowed staff to focus on the more specific and complex tasks whilst also ensuring that client satisfaction has improved as they are able to get immediate responses to requests.
  • Has allowed for the capacity and focus to look into future development areas which otherwise would never have been possible and to provide new solutions to business partners.
For UWE Bristol:
  • Further experience in dialogue management and Natural Language Processing (NLP) and enhancement of experience in working and collaborating within industry in developing and researching new ideas and solutions and identifying how these can be implemented to tackle industrial problems.
  • Provided valuable opportunities to develop and explore expertise in considering and embedding the principles of ethical research in complex areas dealing with highly sensitive data.
  • Identified of a number of topics for further research which have fed into current and future course curation as well as research projects for undergraduates, MSc Data Science and MRes projects.  
For the KTP Associate:
  • Through exposure between both a research knowledge base and business setting the associate has developed leadership skills required to co-ordinate different institutions in bringing an innovative solution to market as well as a developing a greater knowledge of how the insurance claims and legal service industries operate.
  • The associate has since been employed by Lyons Davidson to continue developing the project further as well as taking control and exploring future development across other areas of the business using AI/ML. 

Quantifiable benefits

  • 16,500 customers currently using messaging service as part of their claims process and will be exposed to automated information and manage actionable tasks independently.
  • The development will extend the benefit that customers will obtain in accessing claims information out of hours. Currently 22% of customers access their portal out of normal office hours
  • It is estimated that 5-10% of customer messages will be answered through the dialog management system, directly saving case handler time. This is in addition to the adviser time to be saved when applied to provide advice and call filtering for helpline calls.

What the partners have to say

Mark Savill, Managing Director, Lyons Davidson:

We have enjoyed working with UWE Bristol to build an innovative solution that has benefited our customers, our people and our business. The Knowledge Transfer has been very effective and collaborative, and has helped us overcome technical problems to develop a product that maximises the impact of the use of AI and ML within an area of our business. The experience has also helped change the way our development teams work and communicate and the way we approach problem solving. The whole process has been supportive and helpful and delivered a great platform for us to build on.

Professor Jim Smith, UWE Bristol:

“Knowledge Transfer Partnerships provide a win-win scenario for the three main legs of the project – university, company and associate. As an academic, the opportunity to test new ideas and develop co-designed research agendas that reflect real-world needs is invaluable.

Dr Mehmet Aydin, UWE Bristol:

It is always a privilege to collaborate with industry to implement the research results and realise them in the real life. This project helped build a good collaboration with the company and developed an automatic chatbot development tool, which facilitates a transferable knowledge across many industries. The results produced by the associate were excellently helpful to demonstrate the proof of concept and further develop into industrial solutions.

KTP Associate Chris Tapply, UWE Bristol/Lyons Davidson:

“Being given the opportunity to undertake this KTP I have been able to enter into a field of work which can be difficult to enter as an undergraduate. This has given me the chance to develop my skills and interests with huge support and guidance all whilst developing an innovative solution to a business objective as well as providing further research opportunities for UWE Bristol. “

This partnership received financial support from the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) programme. KTP aims to help businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK knowledge base. This successful Knowledge Transfer Partnership project, funded by UK Research and Innovation through Innovate UK, is part of the government’s Industrial Strategy.

Download the full case study below:

Find out more about Knowledge Transfer Partnerships at UWE Bristol.

UWE Bristol secure Management Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Sysmax

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UWE Bristol Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) team have secured a new KTP with Sysmax. The application, led by Ellen Parkes from UWE Bristol, was funded under Innovate UKs Management Knowledge Transfer Partnership (MKTP) scheme which is part funded from BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy).

Based in Guildford, Surrey, Sysmax is a compliance and competency management company specialising in project, risk, and engineering management offering a comprehensive suite of products that help their clients to evaluate competency, improve performance, and deliver compliance across their business.

Sysmax logo

With specialist support from the academic team at UWE Bristol Business School, the aim of the 24-month project is to develop and embed the necessary management capabilities and leadership skills required to grow the company in line with its strategic ambitions, and increase its effectiveness and productivity in a scalable and sustainable way. Through the collaboration with UWE, Sysmax will establish a strategic approach for the identification, analysis, and targeting of new markets for compliance and competency management systems.

This collaborative project between Sysmax and the Bristol Business School at UWE Bristol provides a route for the transfer of research informed knowledge in Marketing and Leadership, and best practice to the company, whilst providing rich case study material for teaching and applied research, in return.

Basil Omar, Senior Lecturer in Strategy and Enterprise, UWE Bristol and KTP Academic Lead

This partnership received financial support from the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) programme. KTP aims to help businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK knowledge base. This successful Knowledge Transfer Partnership project, funded by UK Research and Innovation through Innovate UK, is part of the government’s Industrial Strategy.

Find out more about KTP’s at UWE Bristol.

Knowledge Transfer Partnership Case Study: Craven Dunnill Jackfield

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The Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) scheme is a UK-wide programme helping businesses to improve competitiveness and productivity. A recent graduate is placed within an organisation to help solve a business problem, with access to our academic expertise.

The below case study is from our KTP with Craven Dunnill Jackfield:

About Craven Dunnill Jackfield

Craven Dunnill & Co Ltd is a historic business, founded in 1872. It has been producing ceramic wall and floor tiles for 150 years and is the oldest surviving purpose-built tile factory in the world. It is part of the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage site at the heart of Britain’s Industrial Revolution

The challenge the KTP was set up to address

Each individual project requires the application of ceramic modelling skills to create new working models and moulds for the restoration of architectural features and to interpret the complex three-dimensional shape of the item beneath the glaze layers of an original sample.

This is a highly skilled art, and ceramic modellers with this ability are few in number and expensive to employ. Across the industry modellers with the necessary hand skills are reaching retirement age and are difficult to replace which will significantly impact the future sustainability of the sector. The situation is a major bottleneck in the production process and limits the ability of the company to expand this part of the business.

The application of 3D technologies, specifically 3D scanning to derive the surface shape of the original ceramic pieces and 3D CAD to recreate the aesthetic of the original work, combined the CNC milling can be used to produce master models and moulds for the reproductions.

Why was a KTP the right mechanism to achieve this?

The KTP allowed us to test machinery and processes at the University in a way that would have been time consuming and expensive to achieve without the partnership. The CFPR’s knowledge of both ceramics and digital manufacturing technology were a perfect fit for Craven Dunnill’s needs. There are limited organisations with the knowledge of both subjects. Years of research from university staff fed into the project and allowed us to address the problems which arose when combining the traditional hand craft process with digital technology.

How did the KTP meet the need (the activities / solution)?

By utilising the expertise offered from the University, new technology was brought in to improve lead times and open new areas of business, specifically in 3D scanning. The development budget provided opportunities for learning new skills which were applied to the project.

Outcome – Impacts & Benefits

What changed as a result of the KTP?

Craven Dunnill invested in a CNC milling machine and a 3D scanner, both of which were required to embed digital design into their traditional mould making process. Moulds, tiles and artworks can be 3D scanned and manipu- lated to produce new block moulds, the block can be directly plaster cast from, saving time and cost.

As well as being utilised for mould making, CAD now plays a role in the initial contact with customers. Vector drawings and 3D models are used to visualise end products, before we commit to producing physical models.

Layouts for wall and floor tile are designed within Rhinoceros3D. This allows for tiles to be automatically counted and layout issues to be resolved before committing resources to a project.

Broad benefits and impacts for all partners, (including economic, environ- mental and/or social perspective)

For CDJ:

Having the 3D capabilities in house has opened up the possibilities of additional revenue streams. Many projects can now be completed in house.

For UWE Bristol:

The Centre for Fine Print Research has a strategic objective and a long history of collab- orating with industry that constitutes around a third of its research.

The success of the KTP with Craven Dunnill Jackfield will add to the Centre’s reputation for combining traditional methods with modern digital technologies both in academia and commercially.

The project validates this research and highlights the value of this method.

The initial concept used was based on an Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB) project conducted in the early 2000’s and the development of these ideas into a successful industrial outcome is likely to generate further research questions for investigation.

It demonstrates how embedding digital technologies into traditional processes can generate benefits for both of the partners.

For the KTP associate

As the KTP associate, I am very pleased with how the project concluded. KTP has opened doors for me and given me the opportunity to develop as a project manager. I have attended multiple courses and conferences over the project, developing both my key skillset (CAD/3D Design) and other elements which will improve my efficiency at work such as Finance/ management/business.

Quantifiable benefits (the numbers bit!)

  • Improved product development time by 72% (From 2 weeks of model making, down to 4 days)
  • Reduced development costs on specific projects by up to 79% (Based on price of model board compared to traditional block and casing)

What the partners are saying?

“Through a challenging time for businesses, the KTP programme has been a true shining light, surpassing our expectations as a Company. It is critical for a 150yr old Company like ours to stay dynamic and explore ways in which new technologies can support and compliment traditional craftmanship. The KTP has brilliantly highlighted the way in which business and academia can come together to develop new capabilities and embed them into our operations. ”

Simon Howells, Managing Director, Craven Dunnill Group

“The Craven Dunnill Jackfield, CFPR/UWE KTP project shows that a committed Company and Academic team combined with an excellent, dedicated Associate can overcome the difficulties and adversities of operating during a pandemic to drive through to success. The project has been very successful and has exceeded the expectations of both partners.“

David Huson Senior Research Fellow, UWE Bristol

“The KTP program has been the most exciting part of my working life to date. It has given me the opportunity to develop my skills and interests within 3D design and technology, whilst allowing me the opportunity to put into practice the knowledge developed during my degree. “

Jed Leonard-Hammerman, 3D Technologies Specialist Craven Dunnill Jackfield

“This project could not have been done without the unusually wide skill set of the Associate who was equally at home in the application of complex digital technology and the practical traditional skills required to manufacture three dimensional tiles together with the support of his academic and company supervisors”

Russ Bromley Knowledge Transfer Adviser

Knowledge Transfer Partnership Case Study: Powerline Technologies

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The Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) scheme is a UK-wide programme helping businesses to improve competitiveness and productivity. A recent graduate is placed within an organisation to help solve a business problem, with access to our academic expertise.

The below case study is from our KTP with Powerline Technologies:

About Powerline Technologies 

Powerline Technologies (PLT) part of Fundamentals Ltd (power systems technology specialists), is delivering next generation Smart Grid Low Voltage (LV) and Medium Voltage (MV) distribution automation solutions to utilities and distribution System / Network Operators (DSO/DNO) worldwide.

Underground cables (UG) are used in locations such as urban areas where overhead lines rights of way is not available, in areas where local or state regulations override economic considerations, near airports, city centres and other locations where an overhead line may endanger lives, and in scenic areas where appearance is an important consideration.

Installing underground lines can cost 7-10 times more than overhead lines. Underground cables are buried at a depth of 450mm to 1200mm depending on the working voltage level. For example, 415 V (450mm) 11 kV (900mm) and 33kV (1200mm).

If a fault occurs in the UG cables, excavation of the exact fault location is of paramount importance in terms of time, cost and customer satisfaction, etc. Also if the outage duration is longer than a certain period the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) is obliged to pay out compensation to customers.

In the United Kingdom, there are 15 distribution network operator (DNO) regions. The 14 different district networks are managed by six operators, while one operator controls the distribution network in Northern Ireland (Figure below). The length of UG cable used by distribution companies depends on the coverage area of the DNO.

Determination of the exact fault location depends on accurate models of the cable and its associated arc. This project investigated both models mathematically for Powerline Technologies. These models will enable the PLT’s machine learning algorithm to pinpoint the fault location for direct and immediate dispatch of repair crews to the location. It will also minimise multiple excavations, cable cutting and ground re-instatement.

The challenge the KTP was set up to address

Powerline Technologies (PLT) has developed a Low Voltage (LV) three core cable simulation model. The challenge now was to onward develop four core cable model and the arc model to increase its simulation accuracy.

1) Solid Aluminium Conductor 2) XLPE Insulation 3) Rubber Layer 4) Waveform Copper Wire Earth 5) PVC Sheath

Why KTP was the right mechanism to achieve this?

Powerline technologies’ AI-based underground cable fault diagnostic and location equipment relies on an accurate digital model of the LV network to produce data to train the AI algorithms. This KTP enabled PLT to embed the developed cable model into the machine learning fault algorithm module.

What changed as a result of the KTP?

The KTP’s focus was to improve two key aspects of underground cable model:

  • The four-core MATLAB cable model with its associated parameters for integration into PLT’s existing MATLAB network model.
  • Improved arc fault models and their integration with the designed four-core cable model to more realistically represent the fault process within distribution network underground cables.

Outcome – Impacts & Benefits

For Powerline Technologies:
  • The four-core MATLAB cable model with its associated parameters for integration into PLT’s existing MATLAB network model could be scaled up and validated.
  • Widened understanding of suitability of various arc models in particular events.

“In addition to the modelling improvements, the KTP project showed how a collaboration between UWE and a research focused technology SME could increase the latter’s knowledge and understanding of a challenging problem.”

Dr Simon Le Blond, Power System Specialist, PLT

For UWE Bristol
  • Have further experience of data analysis and field measurement validation
  • Gained knowledge how to train the AI algorithms for fault diagnostic and location

“Able to take gained knowledge from the KTP project to the classroom for the students. A seminar group has been taught, one of the benefits from the KTP.”

Dr Hassan Nouri, Reader FET Engineering,Design & Mathematics,UWE Bristol

For the KTP Associate:
The KTP Associate Dr Le Trang

The KTP Associate has gained new knowledge in training and accessing the simulation software programmes and experience in handling the field measurement data.

“The KTP gave me the opportunities in skill training such as project management, team working, etc. These skills have not only helped me in managing the current project, but also support me in future career. In my role as an associate, I expanded my knowledge in solid technical and soft skills. I received a lot of support and valuable comments from a KTP adviser, academic and company supervisors”

Dr Le Trang, KTP Associate,UWE Bristol/PLT

View the full case study below:

To find out more about a KTP with UWE Bristol, please see here.

Knowledge Transfer Partnership Case Study: B-hive Innovations

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(L-R) Dr Robin Thorn (UWE Bristol), Dr Barbara Correia (KTP Associate),Mark Willcox (Branston Ltd), Vee Gururajan (B-hive Innovations).

In the below case study, we share the highlights from our Knowledge Transfer Partnership with B-hive Innovations. Find out more about Knowledge Transfer Partnerships with UWE Bristol here.

About B-hive Innovations

B-hive Innovations Ltd is an agritech business that conducts R&D activities for the fresh produce industry, aiming to increase quality and reduce food waste.

The challenge the KTP was set up to address

Under certain growing, storage and handling conditions, potatoes can develop internal defects that affect their quality. This leads to significant reductions in crop value throughout the supply chain, increases food waste and reduces consumer confidence in the product.

This project aimed to develop a new gas sensing technology to non-destructively detect internal defects in potatoes before reaching the consumer, thereby increasing the quality of fresh produce and reducing food waste.

Part of the team building the developed sensing technology platform

Why a KTP was the right mechanism to achieve this?

An initial collaborative proof-of-concept study (funded by the BBSRC) demonstrated that there were significant differences in the gases (volatile compounds) emitted by defected and non- defected potatoes.

This KTP enabled B-hive to recruit an Agri-Tech Development Scientist to identify the main volatile compounds associated with internal defects, by utilising the UWE Bristol knowledge base in advanced mass spectrometry instrumentation and gas sensing.

This enabled development and testing of a sensor technology prototype in the industrial environment (utilising B-hive Innovations expertise and facilities) with the potential to monitor and detect the early presence of internal defects in real time.

The solution

This project required skills in both scientific experimental design and volatile compound identification/analysis, which B-hive did not have in-house. UWE Bristol provided the broad ranging expertise in gas sensing and advanced mass spectrometry instrumentation needed to carry out the research. Together with the KTP Associate, the team was then able to translate the complex scientific knowledge into a sensor technology prototype that has been tested and refined into a suitable industrial solution

What changed as a result of the KTP?

B-hive, UWE Bristol and the KTP Associate have built a sensing technology platform with the capability to detect internal defects in potatoes that could be exploitable across the agri-tech sector.

This has also resulted in a knowledge base of:

  1. volatile compound profiles related to potatoes that develop internal defects,
  2. new expertise in experimental design and data analysis applied to potato tubers, and
  3. long-term industrial deployment of robust sensor technology.

This knowledge exchange has paved the way to seeking additional funding to progress the next R&D activities and shorten the gap towards commercialisation. The partnership has also unveiled new potential agri-tech applications for this type of sensing approach.

Installing the sensing technology platform for testing in an industrial environment.

Outcomes: Impacts & Benefits

For B-hive Innovations:

New skills have been translated in-house regarding gas sensor prototype development, testing and deployment within the agri-food sector.

The achieved outcomes have opened up new possibilities for B-hive to commercialise the developed innovation and they are now informed on the best practice to succeed.

For UWE Bristol:

Have gained further experience of agri-food manufacturing processes coupled with sensor hardware/software integration for industrial implementation, creating new knowledge where they will be able to focus their future endeavours and strengthen their position as facilitators of industrial development.

For the KTP Associate:

The KTP Associate has gained new scientific and transferable competences, gathered considerable understanding of the potato industry and its needs, and experience in a business environment.

The KTP Associate has been employed by the company to take the project’s innovation forward.

Quantifiable benefits

When identified as defective and failing quality control inspections, a tonne of potatoes reduces its value on average from £185 to £12. This represents a loss of value of 93.5%.

Considering a cold store comprises between 500 and 1200 tonnes, early detecting a defective stock and trading it before it loses its commercial value could represent earnings in between £86,500 and £207,600 – for just one storage unit!

The technology in action

What the partners are saying?

The KTP partnership has enabled collaborative translations of academic knowledge in sensing technology platforms into an applied context to solve a real world problem. It has been fantastic having the KTP Associate embedded within the company, ensuring the project remained industrially focussed, and resulting in collective tangible outcomes that benefitted the Company, the Associate and the University.”

Dr Robin Thorn, Associate Professor in Molecular Life Sciences, Centre for Research in Biosciences, UWE Bristol

I was immediately attracted to this project for its challenging, innovative and applied nature, but I must say it was when I met the team that I was sure this was going to be a great experience. The constant support, communication and knowledge exchange have proved crucial to the successful progress of this project – and I have learnt so much along the way.

Dr Barbara Correia, KTP Associate, UWE Bristol / B-hive Innovations.

The primary objective of this KTP project is to enhance fresh produce quality and reduce waste. Having the opportunity to draw on dedicated resources and expertise of both the KTP Associate and the team from UWE Bristol has been invaluable and has helped us make good progress. The results so far have been very encouraging, and we look forward to refining the achieved outcomes beyond the project timescale with a view to commercialise this innovation.

Vee Gururajan, Managing Director, B-hive innovations

This partnership received financial support from the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) programme. KTP aims to help businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK knowledge base. This successful Knowledge Transfer Partnership project, funded by UK Research and Innovation through Innovate UK, is part of the government’s Industrial Strategy.

Knowledge Transfer Partnership with VQ Communications Graded Outstanding

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A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with VQ Communications has been graded Outstanding by Innovate UK.

The two year project aimed to embed knowledge of Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to determine how ML/AI can be applied to VQ Communications complex systems to reduce support costs, boost engineering productivity and enable deployment of larger networks at lower cost and higher levels of service.

Mike Horsley, VQ Communications CEO commented: “It is very pleasing to see the investment made and the hard work, expertise and tenacity that the UWE/VQ team placed into this KTP being recognized in this manner.

VQ continues to invest in the AI/ML technology developed during the KTP and we are getting extremely encouraging results. The team has expanded to include an additional software engineer and we continue to work with the UWE team via a professional services agreement.

Advanced technology is difficult; it requires expertise and managed risk-taking. The KTP program enabled VQ to master a new technology and we are very excited about how the resulting new products and services will help our customers solve the problems they face and, by doing so, will enable VQ to further extend its market leadership and demonstrate continuing growth”.

Lead academic Professor Jim Smith, Professor in Interactive Artificial Intelligence, commented: “The partnership has been a fantastic opportunity to develop AI-based solutions together with a company, and the area: (improving video communication tools) couldn’t have been more topical during the pandemic.”

Based in Chippenham, VQ Communications produces software that allows customers to deploy and manage large video conferencing (also known as “Unified Communications”) services. VQ has established a leading market position over the last 15 years and VQ’s current product generation works with Cisco’s Meeting Server products and is being used by customers world-wide to deliver enterprise wide conferencing. VQ is a Cisco Solution Partner with Cisco recommending and selling VQ’s product.

UWE Bristol and VQ communications plan to continue their relationship together and have recently signed contracts to develop their work on the technology further.

View the VQ Communications case study here.

The KTP scheme is a UK-wide programme helping businesses to improve competitiveness and productivity. With the help of graduate talent and access to UWE Bristol academic expertise, a KTP can help your business to transform and solve problems to achieve goals.

To find out more about KTPs please visit our website.

Knowledge Transfer Partnership company Flexys signs multi-year deal with Bamboo

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One of our Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) companies, Flexys signs multi-year deal with personal loans provider, Bamboo.

Flexys provides modular, highly scalable and extensible debt management, collection and recovery solutions for the digital age. Their cloud-native solutions maximise operational efficiency, reduce the cost to collect and ensure that they deliver the best possible customer service while protecting your business from reputational and regulatory risk.

Flexys Solutions is based at the Future Space Innovation Hub, part of our University Enterprise Zone and employs over 20 people, most of whom are working from home for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Flexys has experienced a period of significant growth this year as lockdown fuels a surge in digital engagement and a move to cloud-native technology.

Bamboo are a direct lender who have built their business around helping people find an affordable loan that fits your credit situation.

Flexys CEO, Jon Hickman said “We are very proud to have secured this multi-year partnership with Bamboo. The economic consequences of the pandemic have put debt management in the spotlight and we have seen a surge in demand for our smart, cloud-native systems. Every new client helps us to expand our business and to promote Bristol as the ideal location for innovative technology businesses.”

Our KTP with Flexys aims to integrate Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technology within debt resolution software, to enable more effective management of debt resolution and improvement of customer relationships and retention.

A KTP scheme is a UK-wide programme helping businesses to improve competitiveness and productivity. With the help of graduate talent and access to UWE Bristol academic expertise, a KTP can help your business to transform and solve problems to achieve goals.

To find out more about KTPs please visit our website.

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