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University of Ulster Scoops Top UK Award

12 March 2010

The University of Ulster has picked up two prestigious accolades for excellence at the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) awards ceremony in London.

At the gala ceremony, Ulster’s partnership between the School of Health Sciences and healthcare firm James Leckey Design won the top prize of ­ the Best KTP in the UK Award.

A second award was made to University of Ulster Associate Eamon Morgan who picked up the Business Leader of Tomorrow Award, for his current KTP with Foyle Food Group Limited. Eamon was one of five associates to be honoured and will be vying to achieve similar success of Best Overall KTP on completion of his programme in the next few years.

A total of 230 Knowledge Transfer Partnerships from across the UK were reviewed in this year’s competition.

The Best KTP in the UK success at the awards follows triumph at the regional competition where Ulster’s graduate Associate Clare Wright and James Leckey Design won the best KTP in Northern Ireland award, which qualified them for the UK finals.

Each winning regional partnership was invited to London to make an oral presentation of their achievements to a distinguished judging panel. Commenting after the award was made, the judges said that the University of Ulster partnership was “the most rounded partnership that clearly demonstrated an effective relationship between the company and the University. It embodies everything that the KTP stands for”.

The partnership, which had already made history by being the first ever partnership award to be made to an Occupational Therapist in the UK, blended Ulster’s occupational therapy skills with the firm’s expertise in designing mobility aids for children with disabilities.

Dr Alison Porter-Armstrong, Senior Lecturer in Rehabilitation Sciences and academic lead on the project, said: “We are absolutely thrilled at winning the award. The accolade reflects the University vision of being known for excellence, innovation and regional engagement. This award encompasses all three elements. We are particularly delighted by the fact that we have led the way for other occupational therapists in the UK to successfully engage in this programme and recognise the important work that KTPs can accomplish, work that can benefit not just the University and the partner company but can find solutions to real problems as is indicative of this case, providing seating and postural support solutions for children with disability and their carers.”

In their acceptance speech the team acknowledged the essential behind the scenes work carried out by the KTP office on the Magee Campus and the funding for the programme provided by the Technology Strategy Board and Invest NI.

Caroline McCabe, KTP Manager, at Ulster said: “This is the second occasion that James Leckey Design has won a major national award with the University of Ulster.  We have developed a long term mutually beneficial relationship over the last number of years and we look forward to working with many more local organisations in the future.”

In KTPs, graduate Associates are supervised by specialist academics while they work with firms on industrial and commercial projects. Businesses improve their competitiveness and productivity by harnessing knowledge, technology and other skills that the universities and colleges have.

Students and academic advisers gain fresh business skills by working closely with companies. KTP is funded by the Technology Strategy Board along with other government organisations, including Invest NI.

Tim Brundle, Director of Innovation at the University of Ulster, said: “It is wonderful to see that the company and academic partnership with Ulster has gained recognition for the important work that they do. I would like to thank the people we work alongside, including Invest Northern Ireland and AEA Technology PLC for their support.”