Twelve-year Partnership Makes Good Business Sense

Issue 81

Northumbria University's Newcastle Business School is a champion of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs). An example of this is the successful partnership between the Business School and the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS).

Here, Dr Matt Sutherland, associate professor of marketing at Newcastle Business School and Colin Allen, TASS national operations lead, SportsAid, talk about how important the partnership is to their respective organisations and how collaboration is a key cornerstone of success.


Northumbria University is a powerhouse made up of some of the UK’s finest researchers and academics. Over the years, we really have been fortunate in our scope to create impact within the business community and beyond. This is due to the standard of the research we undertake capturing the attention of many organisations in the UK and globally.

One being TASS, a SportsAid funded partnership between talented athletes, delivery sites and national governing bodies of sport, who we formed a strategic knowledge transfer partnership with funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. As part of its work, TASS is keen to ensure that talented athletes have access to a dual career path, balancing training for the sport they love with further education or training, including personal development. Working with TASS, the Business School has been able to provide further education for a number of talented athletes, with the aim to ensure that should anything cut their careers short, they will have a standard of further education or training to allow a good career path, whether it be within sport leadership, business or elsewhere. For those looking to hear more about why KTPs are so powerful, including for SMEs, Newcastle Business School has a ‘Why Small Business Matters’ podcast. The June episode features Colin Allen and Baroness Tanni Grey-Cooper, Chancellor of Northumbria University and 11-time gold medal winner at the Paralympic Games, who, in 2017, filed an Independent Report to Government regarding duty of care in sport, and myself. The podcast can be listened online or through your podcast app on your smartphone.


TASS is dedicated to ensuring the physical and mental health of its athletes. We are able to do this by working with educational bodies, such as Newcastle Business School.

It is testament to the impact of KTPs that we have collaborated for twelve years.

Within sport, lack of focus, or even contemplation, of dual career opportunities for talented athletes has been endemic within the industry for decades. It is, in part, through collaboration with educational bodies, such as Newcastle Business School, that we have been able to shine a light on this issue and highlight why continuing with personal development, be it education or something else, often leads to improved performance.

It is pleasing to see that collaborative research in this area is starting to have impact upon how sporting bodies are viewing the mental health of athletes and duty of care, which runs far deeper than physical health. However, whilst this necessary conversation is gaining attention, it is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of lasting progression and I look forward to continuing the work we do in partnership with the Business School, to help push it higher up the agenda for the sporting industry.

That is the power of KTPs. Change can be achieved when working alone but lasting impact is created far quicker when organisations work together.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) are an Innovate UK programme, designed to enable collaboration between academia and industry, facilitating the transfer of knowledge and technology to increase competitivity and to promote an innovation culture.

Left to Right: Colin Allen, Dr Matt Sutherland.

Sign-up to our newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.