A tech firm is reaping the rewards of a partnership project with University of the West of Scotland (UWS) by launching an innovative new feature to its platform – as the institution continues to make progress in Innovate UK’s flagship Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) programme.
Modo is a platform which synchronises documents, photos and videos stored on cloud-based services, enabling users to search and access files on a range of different platforms in one place. The Glasgow firm teamed up with UWS in 2018 to overcome a challenge they were facing in their product development.
Hit the ground running
Dr Majid Anwar, founder and CEO at Modo, said: “Working with UWS helped us accelerate a feature on our roadmap, that we probably would have got to, but it would have taken a lot longer. Finding the University had already done research in this area was fantastic for us, because we could latch onto that and hit the ground running when starting the project.”
KTPs link businesses to world-class academic partners in the UK to drive innovation through collaboration, bring about change and embed new knowledge, skills and capability. Projects address a specific business need, which is identified by the company.
The KTP enabled Modo’s team to work with UWS academics, and a project-specific KTP Associate employed by the University, to develop machine learning and artificial intelligence that would enhance the platform’s capacity to search images and videos based on the image itself rather than the file name.
Majid explained: “If you take a photo on your phone, it will generally save it with the file name ‘IMG’ and a number, which makes it hard to search for. This new technology, developed through the KTP, can identify what’s in that image, making it easier to find.”
The programme embeds new knowledge in the host organisation, leaving a legacy for ongoing development – Modo have since retained their KTP Associate as an employee, and have now applied to undertake a second project with the University.
Kashif Khan, Head of Global Alliances at Modo said: “We’d never collaborated with a university in this way before, so it opened up our eyes to how we should be doing more of this kind of thing, and how businesses generally should be working with universities a lot more, in whatever capacity. There’s a lot of talent and know-how within our universities, and I don’t think that we, as an industry, take advantage of it enough.”
Modo aren’t the only organisation to feel the benefit of KTPs. UWS works with a wide variety of companies, both small and large, across a range of sectors to help come up with creative solutions, based in research, to real-world problems.
Top in Scotland
As of July, the University is working on 33 KTP projects with a combined value of £7 million – bringing it into the top three in the UK by value of current KTP projects, and retaining the number one spot in Scotland.
Stuart McKay, KTP Manager at UWS, said: “KTPs are a great example of what can be achieved when industry and academia join forces. At UWS, we’ve gone from having just three projects two-and-a-half years ago to 33 today, taking us from fiftieth in the UK to third.
“This achievement is a great example of cross-school and cross-departmental team working, with nearly 100 colleagues – academics, KTP Associates and support staff – currently engaged in KTP projects and programme delivery across the University.
“With more projects in the pipeline, including an international KTP with partners in Kenya, there’s no doubting UWS’s commitment to the programme and our belief in working in partnership with industry.”
Professor Milan Radosavljevic, Vice-Principal and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Engagement at UWS, added: “While the KTP programme is 45 years old, many businesses don’t know it exists – or how they can benefit from it.
“KTPs give organisations the chance to access up-to-the-minute research and sector-leading expertise, while addressing business challenges, and Modo are a fantastic example of this. As we enter a recession, now more than ever, businesses should be tapping into the expert knowledge that universities can provide.”
Find out more about Knowledge Transfer Partnerships at UWS.