The University of Leicester is working with Hinckley-based manufacturer Flexeserve and Innovate UK on a collaboration which helps businesses innovate for growth.
The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), will see Flexeserve – which manufactures hot-holding food cabinets and is partnered with big-name retailers such as Marks & Spencer, BP and Greggs – aim to strategically grow its business and turnover in international markets.
Graduate Venkatesh Ravi, who completed an MSc in Applied Computations and Numerical Modelling at the University of Leicester, has been successfully employed under the scheme as KTP Associate.
KTPs connect forward thinking businesses with the UK’s world class knowledge bases to deliver business-led innovation projects, lasting between 12 and 36 months.
The project is supported by Kamran Hussein, one of Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Advisers, who provides expertise and guidance to all partners at every stage of the journey.
Through collaboration with academics from the University of Leicester, Flexeserve hopes to further enhance its successful range of heated food cabinets with new software and skills, overcoming its lengthy and expensive ‘trial and error’ of physical prototyping and testing.
The project is valued at £200,000 and is anticipated to last two years. Innovate UK, the country’s national innovation agency, has provided a grant covering 67% of the costs.
The KTP agreement has officially been underway since the start of October, and will help Flexeserve with its strategy to meet international demand for heated units with an additional £4.6 million of sales in the next five years.
Venkatesh, employed as AeroThermo Mechanical Design Engineer, is under the guidance and weekly supervision of the University of Leicester’s Dr Aldo Rona (School of Engineering) and Dr Alberto Paganini (School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences).
Since 1975, KTPs have been creating positive impact and driving innovation. Currently around 800 businesses, 100 knowledge bases and over 800 graduates are involved in KTPs across the UK.
Paul Corazzo, Research and Partnership Development Officer at the University of Leicester, said: “The research partnerships team work alongside academics to co-ordinate a number of KTPs, with a portfolio of seven live projects. These are with a diverse range of partners from financial services, care homes, cancer immunotherapy, tabletting science, to understanding theatre audiences. KTP is perfect for businesses who want to de-risk their innovation.”
Alberto Paganini, Associate Professor in Mathematics and Project Academic Lead, said: “Through KTPs, industrial partners can access state-of-the-art science and upgrade and enhance their capabilities. KTPs also provide academic partners with insight into current industrial workflows, which informs their future research vision.”
Aldo Rona, Associate Professor in the School of Engineering and Academic Supervisor, said: “This KTP has started with great energy and momentum, facilitated by the use of a common Computer Aided Design platform between Flexeserve and the University of Leicester.
“This is allowing the freedom to use more sophisticated heat and flow management concepts, explore them in bespoke design solutions, and iterate the designs in computer simulations. The energy savings in the improved hot food holding cabinets will be good for the environment, for shop owners, and will make hot food on the go more affordable.”
Mick Steele, Technical Director at Flexeserve, said: “We are all very excited at Flexeserve to benefit from this important strategic project. The skills and knowledge that will be invested into the business will transform the efficiency of our products and allow new and innovative products to be brought to market far more quickly.
“With Venkatesh in the business, and the huge support of the University of Leicester Engineering team, the successes of Flexeserve will continue to put Leicestershire and the UK at the forefront of innovation.”