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The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Technology Strategy Board held a workshop with a wide range of retail stakeholders to discuss the ESRC’s targeted call for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) in the retail sector.

The ESRC has allocated £500,000 to the targeted call for KTPs in the retail sector and at the event Bruce Jackson from the ESRC outlined how the retail sector can drive innovation and growth by accessing the skills and knowledge within the academic community.

The targeted call for KTPs in the retail sector is part of a £2.5m ESRC Initiative for research focused on addressing challenges across the retail sector. Following extensive research, three big challenges that the ESRC have highlighted for initiative are:

* The changing nature of the UK high street and changing physical retail spaces

* e-commerce, m-commerce and omni-channel retailing

* Consumer data

In his presentation, Bruce Jackson said that: “Retail is an exciting sector for ESRC engagement; the importance of the UK retail sector to society and the economy means that research on and with the sector plays into all of our strategic priorities.

“Retail is one of the few sectors with a presence in every neighbourhood. As the UK recovers from recession, and attention turns to how sustainable growth can be built at local, regional and national levels, the importance of research into the position of retail and how the sector might meet the challenges and opportunities of the future becomes ever more important.”

The event presented an opportunity for academic experts from the University of Ulster and Queen’s University to meet some of the key decision makers in the retail industry with attendees from retail outlets, councils and representative organisations throughout Northern Ireland.

Presenting at the event, Karise Hutchinson, Ulster Business School and KTP Associate Lisa O’Donnell, showcased a recently completed KTP project for Menarys.

Through the KTP programme the team not only delivered a fully integrated e-commerce strategy which changed how Menarys used their customer data to retain and engage new prospects, but also changed the retailers buying process, stock range and in-store dynamics.

Karise has been Principal Investigator on three KTPs, and has found the overall experience very rewarding. Through her experience Karise has found that: “KTPs are an excellent source for valuable funding, research opportunities, teaching material and journal and conference papers.”

Amanda Fullerton from the Office of Innovation and one of the key organisers of this event said: “We are delighted at the positive turnout today and for the opportunity to showcase how KTPs provide a viable, accessible and funded support mechanism that enables businesses of all types to engage with university experts to find new ways to innovate more effectively for long-term success.”

To find out more about KTPs, the KTP retail call, or to view some of the presentations from the event visit the Support for Academics section of our website at or contact Amanda Fullerton, Business Development Manager, Office of Innovation at: 75236 or email:


(Left to right) William Morrison, Technology Strategy Board; Mary Flynn, Queen’s University; Bruce Jackson, ESRC; Amanda Fullerton, University of Ulster; and Ken Frame, Technology Strategy Board.