From Paper to Practice: Applying Health Research Evidence in the Real World, Sean O’Connor

Sean OConnor


About me

I’m currently working as Research Fellow in the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast. My role involves teaching and grant writing but mainly involves exploring ways of encouraging people to be more physically active (and how we can use technology to help do this).


Background to the KTP project

In 2012, I started work on a short KTP between Nuffield Health, the leading provider of physiotherapy services in the UK outside of the National Health Service, and colleagues in the School of Health Professions at the University of Brighton.


Lower back pain is extremely common with around 80% of us getting it at some point in our lives and it is associated with huge costs related to frequent episodes of treatment and work absenteeism. The project aim was to develop a new treatment pathway for managing back pain. This involved systematically reviewing current research evidence and summarising it in a clear, concise and accessible way for patients and clinicians. Pathway recommendations are not designed to present rigid treatment plans but to summarise the evidence and provide a rationale for using a particular treatment approach. They are based on a number of factors, including not only the effectiveness of an intervention (how good it is), but also on an assessment of relative benefits (are there possible harms), resource implications (cost/time) and the beliefs and expectations of patients and clinicians (are they confident it will work?).


Barriers during the project

There were a number of clear challenges associated with working on the project, mainly in terms of its scope and that it was completed over a very short timescale. The work that underpinned the KTP was by its nature, very academic. Carrying out this type of work in a busy office type setting proved a challenge but the availability of a gym in the office building to get some exercise in between hours of sitting at a computer was much needed (mostly to avoid ending up with the problem I was reading about!). There are also always challenges when attempting to implement any change in working practice within an organisation, but recognising this at an early stage and testing out different techniques to overcome this has provided me with a great opportunity and the experience to work more in this area since finishing the project.      


Benefits of the project

The time intensive task of reviewing all the evidence is a necessary and from a research point of view, extremely worthwhile process (secondary project outputs included publications in peer reviewed journals and presentations at international conferences). However, as well as developing the pathway, a training system was developed designed to improve implementation of the pathway recommendations into ‘real world’ clinical practice, and improve the capacity of clinicians to critically appraise and apply research findings to their everyday practice.


Key messages

With the valuable support of the wider project team, the other outputs mentioned were all driven by my own efforts and this is the key message I would try to get across. It might seem obvious, but success will be determined only by the thought and effort that you apply to your work. Make the project your own and something to be proud of. From the very start, think not just about what you want to achieve within the timescale of the project, but think about where you want it to take you next. Typically most projects run their natural course due to funding coming to an end, and its success (especially when one it trying to expand knowledge in a given area) can be judged not only on its immediate output but also on what it leads to.


Sean O’Connor, Senior Research Fellow

Centre for Public Health, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences

Queen’s University Belfast

Launching my graduate career with KTP: Adam Masters

Adam Masters

I applied for the role of Eco-Retrofit Manager (KTP Associate) as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership between The University of Brighton and the Guinness Partnership. It seemed to be the perfect opportunity to gain first hand experience in industry whilst maintaining support from an academic institution and gaining further qualifications. It did not disappoint! In the two year of my KTP I have attained a Master of Science degree, a Certificate in Management and passed a qualification to become a member of the Association of Project Managers to name just a few, all whilst being paid a full time wage.

It certainly wasn’t easy to fit in all of that work and additional qualifications, there were a lot of long days and nights juggling study and work; however I am sure that the opportunities that were presented to me during my two year KTP would not have been available in any other type of job. It feels like I have been given a head start to my career, having the experience and qualifications of somebody who has been working in industry for at least 5 years. My role within the Guinness Partnership was to run a two year pilot project to improve the energy efficiency of six of the organisation’s offices and develop a plan to rollout energy reduction across the remaining offices. Working closely with my company supervisor, Victoria Moore Head of Sustainability and Lead Academic Dr Jon Gates an expert in energy reduction we evaluated the current energy performance of the offices and selected six offices to improve that would provide the greatest learning. By retrofitting these six offices and implementing behaviour change initiatives we were able to make circa £50,000 annual savings and develop a strategy for the rollout of retrofit across the remaining office stock. I now feel as though I am an expert in my field, being invited to talk at national exhibitions and conferences to share my experience.

It is extremely satisfying to see a project such as this through to completion and to witness the benefits of your hard work. Upon completion of my KTP, The Guinness Partnership created a new permanent role which I successfully applied for meaning another smooth transition from one role to another role with additional responsibilities and the opportunity for further personal development. However, regardless of whether the company partner is able to employ the Associate at the end of their contract, I believe that the experience and qualifications that a KTP Associate would hold would make them an extremely strong candidate for any job within their field.

Adam Masters, Sustainability Manager, The Guinness Partnership



Life post-KTP: Burns Research Charity to Diesel Tuning – Richard Allin

Blonde McIndoe1

When I began my KTP with the University of Brighton and Blond McIndoe Research Foundation, the 2 year completion date of the project seemed far away and something that I rarely considered until my final 6 months began and suddenly the reality of making the next step became that more real.

I had an idea of location and the type of work I wanted to do post KTP, but I realised my current CV was in need of a serious overhaul to reflect all the work that I had undertaken since the start of the project.

The KTP benefits log was a very helpful source of examples for this and I would have spent significantly more time trying to remember everything I had done since the start had I not managed to fill it in as part of the review meetings.

For the last 3 months of the project I was regularly job scanning, revising my CV, preparing applications and submitting them to a variety of jobs to direct employers and, unfortunately, recruitment agents who seem to hold the bulk of advertised jobs. My previous experiences with agencies had not been encouraging, and they continued to be disappointing, maintaining my suspicions that many advertised jobs do not exist and act as a CV harvesting scheme.

I had some fall back temporary employment in case I did not manage to make a straight jump from the KTP to my next job but looking back I would advise serious job hunting 6 months from the end if you know your KTP host company does not have a position for you.

Fortunately in the last 2 weeks of my project I was offered interviews from two companies that were very much at opposite ends of the scale. One, a multinational corporation in the agricultural sector and the other a small company specialising in digital diesel tuning products.

Neither role asked for a presentation, which surprised me, but I felt bringing something to show on my iPad would help me put across my skills and experiences much more effectively. I had previously undertaken lots of presentations for my KTP so it didn’t take long to put something together. I thought both interviews went well and was pleased that I could fall back on many examples of demonstrating skills and outcomes through the KTP project.

The training budget and academic support over the past 2 years had also enabled me to develop new knowledge and understanding that proved to be a key factor in securing my current role.

Shortly after being interviewed, the diesel tuning company offered me their role of Marketing Executive and I accepted before waiting for an offer from the multinational as it felt more of a natural fit for me.

Two months in I am currently focusing on planning our new website build and developing SEO strategies for our current site, but I’m also working on everything from new packaging to getting magazine features to planning events and managing the social media, and literally using the skills I developed in the KTP every day!

Blonde McIndoe2

KTP: Migrating a legacy software system through Architecture Recovery – Nour Ali

Our KTP project is about re-engineering the software system of Travel Places ( and migrating it into a more modernised and structured one that can be more maintainable and adaptable. The system has been developed over the last 20 years by a single developerand it exceeds 400,000 lines of code. Re-engineering the system is critical to the growth of organizations that need to meet clients’ needs, as they request new features, or catch up with the growing demand to use web, mobile and cloud enabled services. However, the migration process is complex as legacy systems are not manageable as often they do not follow a well-defined structure, are not documented, and are implemented in abandoned technologies – for these reasons, the company approached the university as they could not overcome these challenges without specialist expertise and support. Our KTP Proposal was submitted in April, approved in May. We advertised and interviewed over summer and in September our KTP Associate Stelios took up his role as Software Development Architect which involves him leading and delivering the project, supported by myself and Dr Roger Evans.

The project will redesign and redevelop Travel Places’ system into a more structured one that follows well defined architectural patterns and a service oriented architectural style, this involves applying a tool and techniques that I developed during my postdoctoral research. The main two key challenges of the project are: 1) To migrate the system without affecting clients, users and external systems that it interacts with 2) To identify parts of the legacy system which can be reused and other that have to be redeveloped.  To achieve this goal, we are applying software architecture recovery techniques and tools that will allow us to find out how the software is structured, and subsequently define a new software architecture that is based on reusable architectural patterns and services.

For me as a new comer to the UK and as a researcher starting my career, the KTP project allows me to be in contact with a local-based company that provides a real world scenario to apply my research results and validate them. At the same time, this work has inspired my research towards new directions and has given me the opportunity to focus on interesting new case studies. This will help me to demonstrate the impact of my research and reflect continuously on it; I expect to generate publications from the KTP too. From another perspective, the KTP project provides the resources that allow the establishment of a group formed by academic staff, a recent graduate (KTP Associate) and industry staff which creates an excellent research environment to develop and discuss new ideas. Also, the supervision of the KTP Associate is very rewarding as eventually he will become an expert in the area.

I would recommend Knowledge Transfer Partnership projects for academic staff at all different stages of their career. Their flexible nature allows researchers to define short term objectives that can be easily adaptable and realistic.

Travel Places

KTP Team From Left to Right: Dr. Nour Ali-Knowledge Base Supervisor, Mr. Jeffrey Best – Industry Supervisor, Mr. Stelios Moschos- KTP Associate, Dr. Roger Evans- Academic Lead

Retail KTP boosting the charity sector – Harvey Ells

Myself and Chris Dutton (a fellow retail academic) are three quarters of the way though our most recent retail KTP. This time, we are working with St Wilfrid’s Hospice (Eastbourne) but have previously had successful partnerships with The Seafood Restaurant (Padstow) Ltd (better known as Rick Stein’s) (Retail and Hospitality), Pordum Foods Ltd (Hot food vending) and Spring Barn Farm near Lewes (Farm Shop start-up.) final quarter is always an exciting time in these ESRC/ Innovate UK (previously TSB) funded projects as the first year is very much about implementation and systems. By comparison, in the second year we then move in to intensify the knowledge transfer components and finely tune the retail management and marketing elements. The second year also allows us to measure and reflect on the range of benefits that we can leave the organisation with and identify what each of the project partners have learned from the process.


Why retail needs knowledge transfer

Most owner/managers as retailers are passionate about what they do and have great ideas and ambition for growth, but at times, their entrepreneurship and drive doesn’t readily translate into mainstream retail merchandising, new product development (NPD) or marketing strategies. This is where we can provide the expertise. By combining our work experience with the academic elements, including Retail BA and MSc teaching we have found that we can help the SMEs that we work with to do things better for their customers, ultimately making more profit as a result. What is also particularly pleasing is that increasingly, the UK Government is recognising the value of a quality retail offer to the national economy whether it be from a multiple, SME or start-up business perspective. Last year there was a specific ESRC call for retail KTPs as a result.


Successes and achievements

These projects are not for the faint-hearted as they do require a lot of planning and if you get it wrong it can have serious consequences for the businesses you are working with. That said, because Chris and I understand the retail mind-set, talk lots about retail and love a challenge (and there are plenty!) we have never found it to be a problem. In fact, KTP gives us a real buzz, whether it be from a new initiative, a good set of sales figures or provision of a general highlight to incorporate into our teaching. We’ve achieved the top ‘A’ grade for all of our completed retail partnerships to date, this being a real achievement for the university and our course profiles. KTPs also give us raw materials to publish from which we are getting better at over time. The university also runs a yearly KTP Associates conference that allows us to network with the KTP community and update them on our activities.


Making a difference to the classroom

Knowledge transfer is not a consultancy exercise – it’s a mutually beneficial three-way partnership between the company, the university and the Associate. Our experience of working on KTPs has given us lots of new material to incorporate in to our teaching, even to the point where we ask students to write a case study application centred on the outline bid process, as part of our Level 5 undergraduate Retail Management in Action Module. The students find this novel pedagogic delivery which is more aligned to working in collaboration in industry to be a challenge ….but it works! Having this timetabled at the end of the second year really pulls together the content of the first 2 years of their studies in preparation either for their critical final year or their time out on placement. Our External examiners regularly highlight this as a good example of best practice.


 The Partnerships

The other great thing about KTP is that you get to work with a load of really interesting specialists whether it be the KTP Advisors, the University of Brighton KTP Centre or the company partners. But the most important group that we work with are the recently qualified graduate Associates, who make up the backbone of KTP. They are amazing individuals, with loads of energy and ideas – we reckon that KTP gives them the equivalent of 5 year’s mainstream retail experience condensed into a traditional 2 year KTP project. A good Associate is a key ingredient in making a project successful. Once the project is complete, they go on to do really great things, often with the company partner, which is why we always prompt our final year students to think about KTPs as their first graduate destination.


In Summary

It’s never been so good to get out of the office… give a KTP a try!


Harvey Ells, Principal Lecturer in Retail and Food Studies






My KTP experience – Sally Darbyshire



I was a KTP Associate between 2010 and 2012 with the University of Brighton and Mooncup Ltd.  The project involved developing a new product for Mooncup and a new product development process to allow them to continue to methodically develop products, marketing campaigns and packaging after I had finished the 27 month project. As a product design engineering graduate, this job was an excellent opportunity to use my new qualification and skills in a real project within both industry and a university setting.

My project in particular included a wide multi-disciplinary team at the university because of the complexities of researching and designing the product. Mooncup, who sell an environmentally friendly alternative to disposable tampons and sanitary towels, wanted to expand their product range in order to appeal to slightly different market. The several elements involved in designing this product meant the project required a team of academics to reflect the potential areas this product could develop into, this included Textiles, Marketing, Science and Design. Between the university who could provide expertise in all of these areas, and Mooncup’s knowledge of the market and their customers, we had lots of useful and valuable information to help me deliver the project.


I uncovered a wealth of information in working with so many academics, however it also meant that time was often limited and though the meetings were very insightful, it was often hard to break down the information which would help me develop real solutions. Occasionally because of this, focus on the product and the timescale of the project became unaligned and I needed to re-focus my work. I overcame this challenge by using a project time line which helped me to see what needed to be achieved in the short and long term, broken down into manageable tasks. This challenge also helped me develop as a project manager; I began to assess more carefully when I needed information and advice from certain academics rather than communicating with them on a regular basis.

The other learning curve for me was discovering the complexities in producing a textiles product in the UK using sustainable and environmentally friendly materials. As the textiles industry in the UK has declined over the last few decades, there were a limited number of manufacturers who were able to help develop the product for larger scale manufacture. As the materials also proved difficult to source locally, which was an important aspect for Mooncup, I adapted my approach in order to find materials as close to home as possible.


The benefits of working on a KTP project for the product meant the outcome was well rounded and all options had been considered – in using the experience, insight and knowledge of the university academics and the company’s employees, the whole project was much richer than it would have been if I had been an individual working alone.

Another benefit to working on a KTP project for me was having a very generous personal development budget on top of my salary. This was hugely important for me as it gave me the opportunity to undertake training in areas I had little or no experience in.


As a first job after graduating, I found the support from both the university and the company extremely encouraging throughout the project. Managing a 27-month project for the first time was quite a daunting task but having not only support from the project team but support also from the KTP team and advisors gave me the confidence to run the project successfully. Having regular project meetings helped me structure the product development process to ensure I was meeting deadlines.

I’m working on a few ventures at the moment; developing the family farm business and also setting up various ‘food swap’ events in Scotland. Working through the challenges and successes of the KTP project, I have gained experience which has set me up for future employment and I hope that one day soon I will be running my own business!

Sally Darbyshire, Mooncup KTP Project

Instigating change with KTP – Paul Levy

“Who guards the guards?” – so goes the old saying. Companies can become very set in their ways, valuing stability over change and innovation. Indeed, they can become gatekeepers of the status quo and often that is where a KTP can really make a difference.

A KTP team (comprising 2 or more academics and a graduate, known as the KTP Associate, who is specifically appointed to lead a project) can bring fresh eyes on a stable situation, often a situation that needs to change. For those eyes to be clear and be able to reflect observation objectively, a process of triangulation can be vital. An Associate has one foot in the world of industrial and business practice, one foot in academia. The KTP academic team can provide an objectivity check for the Associate who becomes immersed in the problems and challenges of the organisation.

Often a company has reached a point where it is restless for change and innovation. It recognises that some aspects of the status quo are not serving the organisation. In a current KTP with Plastica Limited, Associate Sam Ekton is bringing new thinking, creativity and practical ideas to bear on new product innovation. Guided by the academic  team, the KTP Associate scrutinises the traditional way of doing things, collects data, interrogates the situation and begins to experiment with “newness” – new practices, new philosophies, new product ideas.

Quickly the Associate becomes immersed in the situation and there’s a danger that this immersion degrades the useful external perspective that the Associate brings as a new outsider. That’s where regular check-ins with the university supervisors come in, who ensure knowledge is transferred by offering some guided reading, proposing strategies/methodologies, questioning assumptions and looking li for evidence to justify any interventions in the business. The academic perspective looks for logical action, for different perspectives, and for reflection on practice. I also personally benefit as I learn from what is unfolding and can take lessons and new ideas back into university practice – in my case, research and education – this being the intended academic outcome for any KTP.

That works less well when the Associate doesn’t experience the academic element as vital to maintaining objectivity and enhancing thinking with research. In our case, there’s a healthy dialogue between myself as KTP Lead Academic, Mark Milne (Senior Lecturer, School of Computing Engineering and Mathematics) as KTP Academic Supervisor and Sam as KTP Associate. Conversations are not always easy. We look for evidence and rationale to back up Sam’s intended challenges and interventions as an agent of change at Plastica. We ask tough questions and also confirm action with established ideas in the literature and our own research base. We help Sam to challenge the status quo and also his own assumptions. Sam, in turn, brings healthy disruption to established modes of thinking and practice in the company. Why do we still do things in that way? What if we changed this process and simplified it?

The disrupter, the shifter of mind sets, the Associate does not always get an easy ride from managers who sometimes guard the status quo for good reasons and do not want change for change’s sake. So, the Associate must prove his case, with a pilot project, establishing an evidence-based case for urgency, as well as some demonstrable quick wins.

So, the Associate brings challenge and ensures the guards aren’t guardians of ‘un-change’ for its own sake. The Associate disrupts in favour of needed innovation – to product and process. The wider academic team guards the Associate, deepening his or her thinking, encouraging objectivity, and ensuring that change is rooted in reason and makes sense for the company. The result? Discomfort. Frowns. But also bottom-line benefits, new capability and learning.

As a lead academic I particularly enjoy the discussion of ideas at the core of the Associate’s project. It is also rewarding to see beneficial change happening before my eyes. Communication is at its best when there is a healthy and regular flow of questions, ideas, concept challenge and practical suggestions, so it’s important to keep this going.

Sam and I have recently presented a paper together based on the early KTP work. A learning experience for both of us – ideal!


Paul Levy

Paul Levy is a senior lecturer at the Centre for Research in Innovation Management (CENTRIM) at the University of Brighton.


KTP in the charity sector – Veronica Malley


During my KTP Project, I was the Retail Development Manager for St Wilfrid’s Hospice Trading Company and the University of Brighton, where I was responsible for the development of an innovative retail strategy which aimed to increase the revenue in eight shops and online stores, generated in order to support the work of the Hospice.

Just to name a few of the highlights from my project I will start from the beginning; receiving management accreditation from the Ashorne Hill Management College in the first 6 months of my time at St Wilfrid’s allowed me to really understand my position and keep on top of my objectives. The opportunity to gain extensive experience leading a project team, motivating shop managers and working alongside senior managers in a retail environment that was and definitely still is a fast paced and rapidly changing will forever remain with me as much more than simply ‘a job.’

It was so satisfying to change people’s perceptions about charity retail and I still find myself talking people into sustainable fashion. There were many challenges that I had faced in this project like at any organisation budgets are tight and one is forced to think creatively about how to make the most from what you have. I was so lucky to have such an open minded organisation to work for who were so willing to support the KTP and our ideas. We managed to get £10,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to open a completely new concept shop called Rotate, which opened on the principal high street in Eastbourne this past June.

Working on tight deadlines and managing many different projects at one time, going from refitting shops one week to presenting a workshop on branding to the charity’s board of directors the next, I learned what it meant to work under pressure and still maintain control over all the situations at hand. Bringing new ideas to the table during monthly management meetings and motivating a team of shop managers was an essential part of my job and one that I loved doing.

Learning throughout the project from my academic supervisors Harvey Ells and Chris Dutton from the University of Brighton’s School of Service Management, by the end of the project I was advising on all decisions regarding shop design, visual merchandising and store layouts. To do this I had to manage close relationships with printers, designers and industry professionals including other business development managers, start-up companies and wholesalers. All this work led to making positive strides forward and in one year we managed to raise our turnover by 29%.

I would now consider myself a creative manager and one of the great benefits that has come out of the project was the close relationships I made with the University of Brighton and St Wilfrid’s. Recently, I have moved to London and am now working as a Marketing Coordinator for a Film school, where I am using many of the skills I developed during my time as a KTP Associate. I am in no doubt that the experience I gained and the fact I had demonstrated my ability to take responsibility contributed to me getting this role and taking my next step on the career ladder.

The KTP project gave me the opportunity to grow and the nurturing and support of my work from all those involved will stay with me for the rest of my career. I would tell future KTP’s to always do their research before committing to the project and once they have to just jump right in and appreciate every chance that the scheme gives you. It was a wonderful time in my life which I will always cherish.

Veronica Malley, St Wilfrids Hospice KTP


How KTP launched my career – Jugal Desai

My KTP project was with Dando Drilling International, a company with over 146 years’ experience in the design, manufacture and sales of water well, mineral exploration, geotechnical and GHP drilling rigs and equipment. My KTP project was about integrating the supply chain and enhancing the product development process at Dando in order to strategically support the company in becoming more competitive.


My primary role was to lead and manage strategic change at the company. No matter how simple this sounds I believe that what I did is equivalent to most of the tasks that are done by strategic management teams. I not only had to lead a change but also work with the top management to define the vision for it and, with the help of , construct the path to push it forward and engage staff with the process to ensure buy-in. The major work then for me and the company managers was to make everyday operations hassle-free. My work involved all the aspects of the business viz. creative designing, decision making, implementing, analysis, networking, making etc. What I did has helped to develop an in-depth understanding of the engineering business and its management. Therefore, I call KTP  a good ‘Learning-By-Doing’ programme for aspiring engineering and/or management executives and I believe this is the KTP’s ‘Unique Selling Point’.


Overcoming the challenges

Like every change project, the key challenge in our project was to motivate and drive the project stakeholders towards a successful change. To gain their trust and confidence was one of the biggest challenges. UoB helped me in realising the fact that the Law of Engineering Attraction is Innovation – people are attracted towards innovative products, processes and promotions so this is what we used to overcome the challenges. We designed and demonstrated an innovative system and process and promoted it with an innovative flair which helped us in gaining trust and confidence and to develop positive curiosity for change among stakeholders.


What I’m doing now

My KTP ended in April 2014 having fulfilled all its objectives and delivered a great impact for Dando. This was reflected in the final report which was graded ‘outstanding’. Post KTP, I was employed by Dando as Operations Manager.  As rightly quoted by Benjamin Franklin, “without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” One of the biggest tasks of my current role is to keep on finding this meaning and implementing it. My current role looks strategically at identifying, designing and implementing a business operational change which supports future growth. At the same time, the role involves fulfilling current demands successfully.


The benefits of being a KTP Associate

I believe that “To know what you know and what you do not know, that is true knowledge” – UoB and Dando have helped me in finding “what I know and what I do not know”. I undertook training, professional qualifications and, most importantly, received moral support which has significantly impacted on my knowledge and experience. At the same, I had a platform to implement this knowledge in the real world. This I believe is one of the biggest benefits of being a KTP Associate. I was part of a top-management decision making process and at the same time I was a learner. This ‘Learning-By-Doing’ principle of KTP is the biggest benefit that an Associate can gain early in their career.

Jugal Desai during filming for the Dando Drilling KTP video case study 

Jugal Desai during filming for the Dando Drilling KTP video case study


Jugal Desai, Design Operations Engineer at Dando Drilling International



Streamlining processes with KTP – Derek Covill

What it’s about

Earlier this year, we completed our KTP project with Dando Drilling International which was an exciting project that generated lots of new knowledge and processes within the company and that provided some great case studies for my teaching. The project went from strength to strength and the success shone through as the project was recently awarded the highest mark for KTP, a grade A (Outstanding) and Jugal our Associate was shortlisted as a Business Leader of Tomorrow. We published a paper in the 2013 KTP Associates Conference on the supply chain integration work we did with local suppliers, and are in the process of publishing an academic paper on the design of bespoke data management tools. The project has of course had its share of ups and downs; there were times where the company have had all hands on deck to deliver an order on time and times when I was super busy with marking, but other times there was great fusion between the academic and company staff which ultimately delivered great solutions.


A bit of background

Dando are based locally in Littlehampton and are the only designers, manufacturers and sellers of water and mineral drilling rigs in the UK – and they’ve been going for over 140 years! The project was set up to implement new design processes and to improve supply chain management in their products – a very exciting project with a very impressive company. We were really keen to work with Dando for a number of reasons; because of their clear expertise in engineering design, their keen enthusiasm for innovation, their relatively close proximity to the University, and their all-round approachable nature.  They were keen to work with us in order to bring in some fresh thinking, some engineering design expertise that they could draw on and some supply chain integration knowledge which they could apply both internally and to their own supply chain.


The project team

The project team included Jugal Desai (Design Operations Engineer and KTP Associate), Erik Dalley (Operations Director and Company Supervisor), Martin Fitch-Roy (Managing Director and KTP chairman), Gina Fitch-Roy (Finance Director), Dr Mark Jones (Faculty Academic Director), Dr Kaiming She (Senior Lecturer in Hydraulics, Coastal and River Engineering), and me (Dr Derek Covill – Senior Lecturer in Engineering and Product Design.


What we achieved

Key outcomes in the project have been:

  • The development of a bespoke Dando Design Data Management system (D3M) to support, track and respond to the internal flow of design and decision data. This has been extended throughout the company and is linked with the company’s Materials Requirement Planning (MRP) software. It’s also being tailored to work with suppliers, to allow for the most impactful integration of the supply chain.
  • An insightful supply chain analysis of key suppliers to see what changes the company can make to their relationship with their suppliers in order to have the most impact on the flow of information and the streamlining of processes.
  • Operations tracking analysis – since there are many logistical balls to juggle at one time on any one order, operations tracking has helped to support internal decision making and identify sticking points which has streamlined internal processes and speeded up time to delivery.
  • Attendance at the 2013 and 2014 KTP Associate’s conferences in Brighton were a great chance for us all to get out of the office, network with others (we made some great links with companies who can help a) me with my teaching, and b) Dando with their software) and it was also a great chance to show off our wonderful KTP Associate and for him to realise how much we value him. At the most recent Conference, Jugal wowed the audience with his passion for KTP as keynote speaker.
  • 12 successful student projects at the company which added value to the project as wel as providing our students with a great opportunity to hone their skills within a company. Such was their success that the projects resulted in 2 excellent University of Brighton graduate engineers being employed on a full time basis at Dando Drilling.


In summary

The KTP with Dando provided a great opportunity for me to integrate my teaching and run student projects with live projects that were aligned with the needs and interests of the company. The students were able to get valuable feedback from the engineers and management at Dando who went out of their way to support the projects throughout.  A publication is in the offing and we have evidence of impact for the next REF. The whole KTP project was a pleasure to be a part of; I’m looking forward to continuing to work with Dando, but also looking forward to my next KTP!