Queen's wins KTP Award
Pictured at the KTP Awards are, L-R: Gerry McNally, Director, Polymer Processing Research Centre, Queen’s; Alan Clarke, Extrusion Manager, PPRC; Stefan Cherry, Development Director, Cherry Plastics Group; Justyna Grabowska, Dr Paul Beaney, Technical Manager Cherry Plastics Group; Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business
A Queen’s partnership with Dungannon-based company Cherry Plastics Group, which led to its recycling division becoming one of the UK’s 10 largest plastic reprocessors, has been named the top Knowledge Transfer Partnership in the UK.
The project was part-funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the Technology Strategy Board.
The news, which was announced by Business Secretary Dr Vince Cable, was described by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Peter Gregson, as an exemplar of “Northern Ireland’s track record of innovation which impacts directly on business”.
As a result of the winning collaboration, the Cherry Plastics Group workforce has risen from 20 to over 60. Turnover has risen from £2.5 million to £13.5 million during the project and research and development spend has increased from zero to £200,000 per annum.
The company now leads an EU project which could fundamentally change the technology associated with plastics reprocessing and has set up an in-house design facility to focus on ongoing research and development.
The project was carried out from 2006 until 2010 by KTP Associates Paul Beaney and Justyna Grabowska, under the supervision of Gerry McNally and Alan Clarke in the Polymer Processing Research Centre at Queen’s School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
Congratulating the winners, Dr Cable said: “Innovation isn't always an easy concept to grasp, but when we learn about practical examples of knowledge transfer, we can appreciate what it means in the real world. So congratulations to this year's Knowledge Transfer Partnership winners, Queen’s University Belfast, Cherry Pipes of Dungannon, and their associates, Paul Beaney and Justyna Grabowska. Through working with the Polymer Processing Research Centre at Queen's on recycling materials for use in its drainage systems, Cherry Pipes has become one of the UK's largest plastics recycling companies.”
Commenting on the award, the Vice-Chancellor said: “This latest KTP success further illustrates the business impact of knowledge transfer activity which translates academic expertise into wealth creation. KTPs bring together the key elements which underpin research and development and lead to economic prosperity, and their impact on local business has been immense.
“Businesses are increasingly aware of the value of such collaboration with Queen’s and the rewards it can bring. As the top participating university in the KTP scheme in the UK, Queen’s has helped more than 300 companies to innovate through accessing and embedding new technology and expertise.”