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Durham University

Research & business

National praise for academic and business partnership

(1 February 2019)

Durham University has featured in a national report highlighting innovation between universities and industry.

The report, published by Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), showcased the partnership between Durham and the hydraulic motor and pump manufacturer, Rotary Power, as an example of best practice.

Quality improvements

Rotary Power Chief Operating Officer and Durham graduate, Neil Gray, started his career as a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Research Associate, a role which allows graduates to work on a specific project with a company while earning a salary and undergoing training.

Neil approached Durham with a view to improving the company’s quality control on small batches of products.

Durham PhD student, Steven Cox, joined the KTP as a Research Associate bringing his specific expertise in analysing complex data.

Steven’s knowledge and skills allowed him to develop a system to collect large amounts of real-time data on each product and its different parts.

A simple traffic light system was developed alerting engineers when a product was not performing as it should be, allowing adjustments to be made. 

Business benefits

To date the KTP has delivered a number of benefits, including reductions in cutting waste and the amount of incorrect finished parts, as well as delivering cost savings.

The system has proved so beneficial that it is expected to be used in other divisions of Rotary Power.

Upon finishing the KTP, Steven was offered a role with the company and now works as a Senior Quality Engineer with Rotary Power.

Knowledge transfer partnerships

The KTN brings together businesses, entrepreneurs, funders and academics to develop new products, processes and services.

KTPs, like the one between Durham and Rotary Power, aim to help businesses grow by bringing them together with academics and graduates to help tackle industry challenges.

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