From Physicist’s workbench to widespread clinical practice: how a Knowledge Transfer Partnership can develop new clinical equipment.

Friedemann Schaber, Antony R. Denman*, Francesca Oldfield, Steve McGonigal, Charlotte Patrick, Stewart Forbes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to ConferenceAbstractpeer-review


UK Government has established a centrally-funded scheme to support industry in developing new products and protocols. Most completed projects have not specifically targeted medical innovation, however it has been found that applying this methodology to the development of medical devices has cross-disciplinary benefits. In case presented here, this has demonstrated an effective way of getting from a proven technical concept to a marketable product. This process is referred to as a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) and has through its predecessor, the Teaching Company Scheme (TCS), built a legacy of success of over 40 years.

The aims of each KTP programme are to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and technology and the spread of technical and business skills to the company, stimulate and enhance business-relevant research and training undertaken by the knowledge base, and enhance the business and specialist skills of a recently qualified graduate. The scheme is coordinated and monitored by Innovate UK, and is usually a two-year project. A recent graduate is appointed as a KTP Associate to the company concerned to develop the project. The Associate is supported with academic and development expertise from a knowledge base, i.e. a University. In this case the Associate has a Product Design background, and the University provides medical physics expertise, particularly radioactivity, and other academic support, including conference presentations and peer-reviewed papers. The University itself gains cross-disciplinary scientific and business experience and expertise – including, in this case, the KTP Associate providing product design undergraduates with case studies of working with industry.
The aim of this project is to develop a proof of principle concept for radio-guided laparoscopic surgery into a refined, certified product that can be easily used and manipulated by clinicians, to support intraoperative decision making, which can be rolled out to non-specialist District General Hospitals in both UK and abroad. As the device will be used in the Operating Theatre, there are a number of challenges to ensure that the device can be used efficiently, physical manipulation must be intuitive, the device outputs must be clearly visible and/or audible, as well as being easy to interpret. Strict adherence to regulatory safety requirements, and international standards must also be respected and applied. Such practicalities are within the expertise of the KTP Associate who has a user centred design approach and experience of designing Graphic User Interfaces. Furthermore, the project is enriched by the multi-disciplinary involvement of clinical and business stakeholders alike.

Because of the commercial potential of such a development the agreement between Innovate UK, the company and the University must be subject to a Non-Disclosure agreement and incorporate strict ethics protocols. In the presentation the process and engagement will be described and illustrated and some of the opportunities and pitfalls discussed. In the past, most of KTP programmes have been non-medical, with medical projects focusing particularly on Pathology and in Primary Care chronic illness management, protocols and procedures.
In conclusion, the KTP process provides a mechanism for realising the potential of developing medical physicists’ bright ideas into reality.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2019
EventInstitute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM) Annual Medical Physics and Engineering Conference (MPEC) 2019: “The role of Science and Engineering in shaping the future of Healthcare” - Marriott Hotel, Bristol, 24 Sept 2019, Bristol, United Kingdom
Duration: 24 Sept 201925 Sept 2019


ConferenceInstitute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM) Annual Medical Physics and Engineering Conference (MPEC) 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • KTP
  • Medical Devices
  • Graphic User Interface


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