The Knowledge Transfer Network

The Organisation

The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) is the UK's innovation network. It is a national support network service designed to maximise innovation and business opportunities for its clients. It brings together businesses, entrepreneurs, academics and funders to develop new products, processes and services. KTN has an office in the Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) and a long collaborative relationship with the university.

The Challenge

KTN works closely with the water sector to deliver services through a combination of face-to-face support from Knowledge Transfer specialists and through their online _connect portal. There is an enormous amount of activity in the sector but no simple way of navigating it to allow interested parties to find their way around and see connections. An attempt to capture this in a simple mind-mapping tool quickly revealed that there was a need for something more sophisticated.

Skills Sought

  • Familiarity with and confidence using databases
  • Confident working in a self-directed capacity
  • Questioning and unafraid to challenge the status quo
  • Experience of handling data and other sources of information

The Solution

Joe McNamara, MPhys Hons Physics with Particle Physics and Cosmology, was recruited through the Science and Technology Internship Programme for a twelve week internship with KTN.

Using the innovative SharpCloud relational database software system, Joe developed an online environment that allows users to populate the database with information relating to their organisations, collaborations, details of personnel and projects, and thereby create an ‘information ecosystem’ that allows interested parties to navigate their way around this complex sector.

He worked closely with Jonathan Abra, Knowledge Transfer Manager, to develop protocols for organising and linking information, and input sufficient data to build the database to a point at which it could be recognised as a valuable product which could be adopted, and funded, by the user community.


The internship was part-financed by KTN at £1100+VAT, and part-financed by LEC at £2,084, with a total value of £3,404.


The project allowed staff working throughout the water sector to share files, data and information more easily, from utilities through users, technology developers and academics, to government agencies.

Benefits to the organisation

  • Knowledge and expertise of Lancaster University Science and Technology students
  • Increased the organisation’s knowledge of cloud-based information sharing software
  • The software provided easier sharing of files, data and information between staff working throughout the water sector
  • Saved the KTN management time

Organisation Feedback

“The project helped us save time, increased our knowledge of cloud-based information sharing software, and provided easier sharing of files, data and information between staff working throughout the water sector. This was an exercise that I could not have resourced from within the company and the ability to access highly skilled and committed students from a leading UK university was absolutely critical in getting it off the ground.

"Joe was absolutely excellent and very quickly assimilated an enormous amount of information about a subject that was entirely new to him. He was thorough, diligent and, most importantly, not afraid to ask questions. As a consequence the project soon took a turn in a quite different direction, that was clearly of benefit.” Jonathan Abra, Knowledge Transfer Manager, KTN.

Student Feedback

“As a result of the internship my presentation skills have developed greatly and I have experience with deadlines in an office environment. I learnt a lot from the internship, and I will take these skills with me in my future career.” Joe McNamara, MPhys Hons Physics with Particle Physics and Cosmology, KTN Intern.

Future Plans

KTN continues to collaborate with LEC.