Louise Jones PhD, Knowledge Transfer Manager Energy Systems, introduces the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), established to help deliver economic growth for the UK through knowledge sharing and innovation.
As the network partner of Innovate UK, the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) helps businesses get the best out of creativity, ideas and the latest discoveries, to strengthen the UK economy and improve people’s lives. Our cross-sectoral approach is invaluable in ensuring relevant communities are aware of opportunities and potential benefits.
We understand the innovation landscape and the importance of industry pull as well as technology push to create success.
The breadth of sectoral knowledge at KTN allows our experts to identify opportunities for organisations in sectors they may otherwise not have discovered. This is particularly true in areas such as the maritime industry which spans a number of sectors – KTN currently has active projects within the transport, energy and position, navigation and timing (PNT) sectors.
In March 2019 the KTN, together with BMT, under the auspices of Maritime UK’s Technology and Innovation Group, held a workshop to explore the challenges arising from the Maritime 2050 Strategy. The outputs are to be used as a basis for developing an agenda from which a co-ordinated and prioritised innovation programme could be developed for MarRI-UK, as the vehicle for taking forward the national maritime research agenda.
One of the key themes to emerge from the workshop was the environment, covering emissions, alternative fuels and propulsion systems, power management, ballast and waste water, biofouling and noise. Another key theme was skills and training. Given increased automation, digitisation, data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), there is considerable urgency in identifying future skill needs, putting in place appropriate training and having a pipeline of inspired people with skills at all levels.
Collaboration across all sectors of the diverse marine and maritime sphere to achieve efficiencies and remain a global presence was also a key theme. In particular, the sharing of data, information and knowledge was seen as key, covering environmental technologies, business models, skills and training programmes, data standards and management.
Security, safety and resilience also stood out as an area of focus, as it is particularly associated with increased automation, digitisation and data management, but also focuses on the human element, removing them from danger in the harsh maritime environment, enabled by automation, simulations and AR/VR. Given the fast pace of technological change, regulation was seen as important in order to underpin safety and resilience.
Autonomy, information and digital themes were also central to the discussions as they are seen as potential solutions to the other issues raised. For example, reducing environmental impact, helping to alleviate the skills gap, or take the human out of the loop. However, as noted, they bring their own issues of, for example, security and the need for training. Lastly, it was established that ports, as gateways between sea and land and a focus for collaborative activities, need to become more efficient in their operations and decrease their environmental impact.
A second maritime project that is being supported by the KTN is MarRINav (Maritime Resilience and Integrity of Navigation), a project exploring in-depth maritime requirements for resilience and integrity in position, navigation and timing (PNT). MarRINav is a European Space Agency project run in partnership with a consortium of organisations led by NLA International which comprises KTN,
the General Lighthouse Authority, the University of Nottingham, University College London, Taylor Airey, Terrafix and London Economics.
The project aims to explore the vulnerabilities of global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) as a PNT solution in the modern maritime environment. A key element of this project is engagement with stakeholder groups from industry and academia. KTN is facilitating this stakeholder engagement via meetings, workshops and a report accessible on the KTN website summarises the findings from the first workshop held in May 2019.
A further exciting project is KTN-innovation eXchange (KTN-iX) which is an online platform that promotes innovation transfer, matching real industry challenges from large businesses to companies, often from other sectors, who can provide novel solutions to those challenges.
There are new challenges arriving on stream frequently. These are divided into three broad areas – Offshore Wind Innovation Exchange (OWiX), Energy Systems Innovation Exchange (EnSiX) and Nuclear Innovation Exchange (NUiX). The solution to these challenges could come from diverse sectors; and the transfer of skills and knowledge from other sectors is a key driver for the platform. To date, the platform has received challenges from organisations such as ABP, Sellafield, GE Renewable Energy and ORE Catapult. KTN is adept at spotting where opportunities for our networks lie. Our role as the network partner for Innovate UK ensures we are fully involved in funding competitions and aware of the sectors that could benefit. We are also a key delivery partner for the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and we run Innovate UK’s international Global Expert Missions.
Our website, www.ktn-uk.org, explains more about what we do and also provides the opportunity for those interested in different sectors to sign up to newsletters to receive regular updates.