KTP Associate, Greg Holgate.
KTP Associate, Greg Holgate.

Northumbria University Newcastle builds new commercial opportunities with "outstanding" KTP

Northumbria University Newcastle is celebrating its Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Sterling Pharma Solutions, having been awarded the top grade of ‘Outstanding’ by Innovate UK’s independent assessors.

The KTP provided an ideal approach for the application of Northumbria’s knowledge in biocatalysis research to create new commercial opportunities, building on Sterling’s existing expertise in development chemistry.

With over 850 employees based across the UK and the US, Sterling Pharma Solutions is a Partnership Development and Manufacturing Organisation producing Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs).

The KTP is directly aligned to the company’s distinctive approach which sets a new standard of transparency and collaboration with scientific partnership at the core.

The use of biocatalysts in the pharmaceutical industry is rapidly expanding, as it offers compelling advantages like improved efficiency, reduced costs, customisation capabilities, and enhanced sustainability.

Dr Mark Muldowney, head of technology and innovation, Sterling Pharma Solutions, said: “The KTP with Northumbria was envisaged initially to address a specific business opportunity but our experience of the KTP and what has been possible through it has led to a broader appreciation of how the technology can be deployed and developed to innovate further and create value in the business.

“The close collaboration with the academic team has led to other collaborations and an ongoing relationship where ideas are regularly shared and issues discussed.”

Dr Graeme Turnbull, senior lecturer, Northumbria Univeristy, commented: “This KTP has given me the opportunity to explore the processes and practices of the pharmaceutical industry while contributing to my own research group. As an early career researcher, being able to work with a talented team of academics and industrialists to train our associate and transfer knowledge into the company has been a rewarding experience.”

The broader than anticipated benefits of Sterling Pharma Solutions’ new knowledge in biocatalysis resulted in new business being won during the KTP, and several new contracts and projects are in development and ongoing. These include new customers who have not previously partnered with Sterling Pharma Solutions and a healthy pipeline of enquiries.

John Clayton, knowledge transfer adviser, Innovate UK KTN, added: “Outstanding across the three agendas delivering a new, market- and sector-leading, capability in biocatalysis for the business, a blue-chip relationship with a global business for the university which has developed into a recently awarded second KTP, and a prestige career opportunity for the associate.”

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