Aston University crowned best in UK at Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) national awards 2023

Aston University has scooped two significant prizes of the 2023 Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Awards.

The annual awards recognise the people and partnerships behind the UK’s most inspiring and successful KTP projects.

A partnership with Mechatherm International Ltd won best KTP project in the UK. The award recognises collaborations that demonstrate excellent achievements across all the three partners – business, academic and associate – and show how they have gone beyond the goals stated in the original proposal.

Mechatherm is a provider of bespoke casthouse equipment to the aluminium industry. Its partnership with Aston University resulted in a more intelligent design process for furnaces and ancillary equipment for the global aluminium industry.

It uses complex design automation techniques and algorithms at a fraction of the usual time and cost. The project led, by Dr Gareth Thomson, Dr Michal Konečný and Paul Warrington allows for a higher volume and greater accuracy of projects to be quoted.


Alan Burrows, MD of Mechatherm said: “We’ve seen across-the board improvements from working with Aston University’s academics and our KTP associate, Suyesh Bhattarai.

“The new, intelligent system for design optimisation has reduced our calculation time from a week previously to an hour, and our planning timescales have shrunk from 38 weeks to nine weeks with no effect on quality.

“These gains, coupled with further engineering time reductions have delivered a significant bottom line impact for the firm”.


Receiving his award KTP associate Suyesh Bhatterai said: “I’m delighted my work at Mechatherm has resulted in such a positive impact, and also has worldwide implication and applications in the industry. Increasing the efficiency of the design process in this context helps the firm, its customers and the planet”.


Mechatherm and Aston University have subsequently set up a second KTP partnership to develop a suite of energy-efficient aluminium recycling systems. Led by Dr Ahmed Rezk and Dr Muhammad Imran the project aims to halve energy consumption.

Aston University also won the Best KTP support team award, which recognises the team that has best engaged and capitalised on the opportunities offered via the KTP programme. The University team currently tops informal league tables for the quality of its KTPs.


John Richards, director of Knowledge Exchange and the team leader said:

“It’s wonderful that my team has been formally recognised as the sector leader for Knowledge Transfer Programmes, and winning in two separate categories is further acknowledgement of both the scale and quality of the university’s collaborative research capabilities and strong partnerships with regional and national companies.”


KTP is part of a wider strategic direction for Aston University and Professor Aleks Subic, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive said:

“These notable awards confirm Aston University’s strong focus on creating high impact outcomes in collaboration with businesses and our commitment to supporting economic growth in our region. Our triple helix innovation approach involving academia, business, and government, all working towards a common goal is exemplified by our work with Innovate UK and Mechatherm.

“Our transformational impact achieved through KTPs, is a key strand of our new Aston 2030 strategy. I’m truly delighted that the Mechatherm partnership has delivered such strong results, and that the Aston University Knowledge Exchange Team led by John Richards has been recognised for excellence and impact.”


Photo caption: From left to right: Professor Simon Green (PVC for Research), Mark Matchett (KTP Advisor, Innovate UK), Dr Suyesh Bhattarai (KTP Associate at Mechatherm International Ltd), Sam Burrows (KTP Operations Coordinator), Emily Wakefield (KTP Manager), Lana Amosova (KTP Operations Coordinator), Alan Burrows (Managing Director at Mechatherm International Ltd), John Richards (Director of Knowledge Exchange) and Mark Smith (Executive Director of Business & Regional Engagement).

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