RGH Rubber, a manufacturer, convertor and distributer of foam and tape technologies, was able to strengthen its commercial capacity and internal processes by engaging in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with the University of Hertfordshire.
RGH aimed to achieve two key objectives through the KTP, the first of which was setting up a laboratory to enable them to embed systematic and scientifically driven quality control procedures for testing their products. They also endeavoured to develop and launch a new brand of noise vibration textiles, NVtex.
Bob Hildrow, Managing Director of RGH, says the KTP presented the perfect opportunity for his small business to achieve these goals without impeding on his current operation.
We only have 30 employees, so the additional resource of having our KTP Associate, Xiaojing Zhu, working for our business as a fulltime staff member, was extremely promising.
“The University ran a rigorous selection process to help us find the right candidate to fill the role which was very important to us as the Associate would need to take the lead on setting up our new lab and managing projects. Xiaojing had the academic discipline required to do the technical side of things, but also the enthusiasm for the work which kept her self-motivated.”
Bob has been able to tap into various services offered by the University throughout the process. “Initially it was quite demanding dealing with the administration aspects of setting up the KTP, but this was made achievable because the Business Development team handled it brilliantly and supported us throughout.”
“We were also able to access other resources, such as the University’s facilities and specialist equipment. Before Xiaojing set up our laboratory, she was required to do a number of tests on our products. During the heat testing phase, we didn’t have our own testing ovens. Xiaojing was able to visit the University and use the equipment there. The kit was far superior to what we could have otherwise gained access to.”
For Bob, the greatest benefit of the KTP has been its transformative effect on RGH’s internal processes, enabling staff at the business to adopt an evidence-based approach to their work.
It’s given us as a business, and our customers, confidence; we can make data driven decisions when purchasing products, developing our own product ranges and providing advice to our customers when guiding them on making purchases. This has made us innovators in the space – I don’t know any other converters that have the kind of technology or laboratory that we do.
“Not only did we gain a lot from the partnership as a business, but it was wonderful to be able to give back. The programme enabled Xiaojing to engage in her own personal development and undertake additional training courses to improve her skills and knowledge. She was so instrumental to the transformation of our business that we were delighted to offer her a job on the back of the project.”
Undertaking the KTP has encouraged the business to want to extend its relationship with the University. “We have no complaints whatsoever, it’s been a really interesting process and we are now looking to take it a step further by engaging in new collaborative projects with the University.”
The University is committed to providing ongoing support for academics and researchers in Hertfordshire to develop technologies and commercially viable products.
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This partnership received financial support from the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) programme. KTP aims to help businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK knowledge base. This successful Knowledge Transfer Partnership project, funded by UK Research and Innovation through Innovate UK, is part of the government’s Industrial Strategy.