Business partnership receives top grade from Innovate UK

(l-r) Dr Philip Brabazon, Senior Lecturer in Portsmouth Business School at the University of Portsmouth; Professor Mark Xu; Mike Robinson; and Sandra Johnson, Collaboration Manager in Research and Innovation Services at the University of Portsmouth.

(l-r) Dr Philip Brabazon, Senior Lecturer in Portsmouth Business School at the University of Portsmouth; Professor Mark Xu; Mike Robinson; and Sandra Johnson, Collaboration Manager in Research and Innovation Services at the University of Portsmouth.

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between the University of Portsmouth and Entec International Limited has been awarded the highest possible grade of ‘Outstanding’ by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.

Entec, who have their headquarters in Halesowen, West Midlands, manage the supply of maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) of spare parts to global businesses in the food and beverage industries with manufacturing operations at the end of complex supply chains.

The KTP delivered an extension to Entec’s business model, moving them one step closer to their clients, which improved the procurement process in their global supply chains.

Business, operations research and maths academics from the University worked with Entec staff and Innovate UK to produce an industry first ‘toolset’ which calculates and presents complex inventory data, using a series of business algorithms, in a simplified graphic format. The toolset provides a compelling business case for change in the way Entec clients MRO inventory is managed.

The graphic reports help the Entec sales team in the delivery of complex information and provides strategic decision makers within clients with the information they need to improve operating efficiency and reduce MRO cost.

As a result of the partnership, Entec generated revenue of $3m during KTP and confirmed $20m of revenue from one major client within two years. Entec also confirmed five new contracts (worth $16.3m) including a contract in a new sector – Mining and Minerals – worth $3m. Entec have also opened an office in Portsmouth to continue to foster the relationship with the University and benefit from the research base.

For the University, success has seen the submission of three peer-reviewed journal papers, discussions at international conferences and saw three masters and two undergraduate projects through to completion. The project continues to build an industry-university collaborative platform which has already delivered two research workshops, two guest lectures, and two keynote addresses at major research and innovation events.

Mark Xu, Professor of Information Management at the University of Portsmouth, said: “In our view, the relationship with Entec which evolved through this KTP not only provided a knowledge transfer partner but brought an inextricable link to knowledge creation and innovation into the University.”

Mike Robinson, Group COO for Entec, said: “The partnership with the University of Portsmouth provided us with significant benefit through training, staff development and the conversion of ideas into workable business strategy. Directors access short courses, ensuring we remain a compliant and professional company.   Our supply chain analyst, combines practical operations experience with academic research, as he studies toward a doctorate.  Short projects provide real work experience for students and affords the company research and development information.

“Meetings with University staff were always professional, understanding our business, recognising the challenges we face, providing enthusiastic support and lateral thinking. It’s simple, we are a team.”

The two-year project started in March 2014 and finished in September 2016. It was awarded the highest grade of ‘Outstanding’ by the KTP Grading Panel, which is funded by Innovate UK, for meeting the KTP’s objectives.

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