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University’s business-boosting scheme wins national award


A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between a Black Country business specialising in the design of melting furnaces, and Birmingham City University, has been judged ‘outstanding' and awarded the highest national accolade.

Mechatherm International Ltd's two-year programme with the University's Faculty of Technology, Innovation and Development has seen the company achieve international leadership in its field. This successful partnership is now continuing through further knowledge-transfer schemes.

A second KTP will see the Birmingham City University help Mechatherm introduce world-leading Knowledge Based Engineering (KBE) program throughout its business processes. In addition, a new Knowledge Based Partnership (KBP) scheme will build on the original, award-winning KTP's design achievements that brought Mechatherm its biggest ever, international contract.

The ‘Outstanding' KTP accolade recognised the work of one Birmingham City University's top knowledge-transfer teams, led by Dr Mike Daniels, for whom this is the third major KTP-award in a year. Previous awards recognised success in  programmes with the Morgan Motor Company. They endorse the University's overall strengths in having helped many hundreds of smaller businesses embrace technologies which transform their competitiveness.

Mike Daniels says: "We apply technology to a company's underlying strengths to develop strategic benefits. Our KTPs may well offer SMEs an affordable, enterprising stepping-stone out of the current recession. KTPs aim to deliver several years of profit growth, but are not ‘quick-fixes'; they lay foundations for long-term development."

Mechatherm's Managing Director, Andrew Riley, first sought Birmingham City University's technological expertise in 2004, to strengthen the company's international competitiveness. An initial project successfully developed a key furnace component; the University also underwrote a furnace's heating performance to clinch a major overseas contract. Mechatherm's subsequent investment in advanced computer-aided design software then led to the recently completed, award-winning, 2-year KTP.

Andrew Riley says: "We wanted to lead in cost-competitive, high-quality, high-performance, added-value furnaces."  With Birmingham City University graduate, Pete Sandhu, appointed as KTP-Associate, the company's design-competence was soon raised and aluminium furnace designs were being produced in a fraction of the previous time.

Technical accuracy, time and cost estimates all improved, as did the professional confidence and creativity among Mechatherm's engineers. As a result the company won its biggest-ever, £20m, design and installation contract. This was for eleven furnaces in the Middle East, and prompted recruitment of more staff and 50% turnover growth. Despite the current slow-down in demand for non-ferrous metals, the industrial progress of China, India, Russia and the Middle East, is expected to resume before long.

The new KTP, will see Mechatherm's business processes benefit from Birmingham City University's partnership with US-based leader in advanced Knowledge Based Engineering (KBE), TechnoSoft Inc. The University will help Mechatherm introduce a world-leading, KBE resource - software that maximises the value of every aspect of a company's business-knowledge data-bases.

Birmingham City University builds strong relationships with KTP-partners that often endure long after project completion. However, the University emphasises that finding the right graduate-associate is the key.  Most KTP-associates come from its own graduates as the University's courses are tailored to maximise their value to employers.

‘Midlands Exporter of the Year', Andrew Riley, believes UK furnace component makers and engineering companies will benefit from Mechatherm's KTP success. He says: "Other companies should take advantage of such valuable university support and expertise."

Companies interested in exploring how government-subsidised, Birmingham City University KTPs can benefit their business should contact Natalie Lewis on 0121 331 5000 or e-mail

Notes to editors

About KBE - KBE enables users to capitalise on the entire body of a company's knowledge. Just like DNA in living things, it makes product design and development an easier, smoother and much faster evolutionary process. In particular, it offers a quantum leap in drastically reducing product design timescales.

Issued by Birmingham City University Media Relations Office.
Tel: 0121 331 6738
Out-of-hours: 07967 271 532

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