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University of Leicester helps boost two Midlands companies through KTP funding

Grants worth over £300,000 support projects with Synapse Information Ltd and Red Monkey Play Ltd

Two Midlands-based companies have been given a huge boost after the University of Leicester secured grants on their behalf for innovation projects worth more than £300,000.

The University successfully bid for two Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) awards – one to work with Birmingham-based Synapse Information Ltd on a project worth almost £150K and the other with Red Monkey Play Ltd on a project worth £175K.

Awarded by government body Innovate UK, a KTP supports innovation in business and brings together a university and a company to develop new products, processes or services which are seen as having high potential.

Synapse, a business spreadsheet collaboration company based at Innovation Birmingham Campus, Faraday Wharf, was established in 2012 by entrepreneur Brian Donnelly and its clients include a high-street bank and a leading Swedish furniture retailer. The company has tripled in size to 18 people during 2014/15.

Brian Donnelly, CEO of Synapse Information Ltd said: “Despite the prevalence of enterprise software, companies large and small still opt to produce financial reports using spreadsheets, which are manually cut and pasted together every time amends and new data are inputted.

“Spreadsheets offer employees a familiar, flexible format, but the time wasted and significant margin for error created by cutting and pasting various versions – sometimes as many as 200 versions are being worked on simultaneously –is bad for business.

“Synapse has spent three years developing a collaborative solution which connects standard spreadsheets through our cloud service, so ‘one version of the truth’ is instantly accessible across the business.

“The newly awarded Knowledge Transfer Partnership grant will enable us to carry out much more product development work during this coming 2015 financial year, alongside a team from the University of Leicester.”

Stephan Reiff-Marganiec, Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Leicester added: “Work on this project with Synapse will allow us to transfer and embed research results in the area of Semantic Web into the commercial sector. This step is bound to bring challenges that will be exciting to explore and will also raise new research questions.”

Red Monkey Play Ltd is a market leader in outdoor play equipment for the early-years and primary education sector. Managing director Simon Winfield bought the company in 2012 and transformed it into the successful business it is today.

The KTP will enable the company to develop a more sophisticated, technology-enhanced product range by embedding interactive digital audio and multi-sensory technology into children’s play equipment.

Simon Winfield said: “As a rapidly growing start-up company, this KTP gives us access to University expertise which simply wouldn’t be available to us otherwise. As well as help to develop an enhanced product range, the University of Leicester will work with us to reach new markets and export our products outside of the UK. It’s a unique opportunity.

Dr Ming Lim, Lecturer in Marketing and Management at the University of Leicester added: “The project with Red Monkey Play carves out and develops a new market for digital play equipment in a growing industry that will transform maths, science and social learning for young and older children.

“The University is transferring an interdisciplinary knowledge base in electronic engineering (sensors) and marketing and innovation management to the company which is likely to be a game-changer in the industry.”

 

Source: University of Leicester Press Office

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