KTP Associate Nishesh Jain is helping software company DesignBuilder stand out in a new field, with access to the latest ‘in-use’ building performance assessment expertise.
As the Associate on UCL’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with DesignBuilder, Nishesh has been instrumental in helping the company tap into specialist knowledge to grow their offering and business.
The tools he’s helping to develop, working with UCL academics, are enabling the company to lead the way in a new area of building performance assessments.
Nishesh has received support from UCL Innovation & Enterprise throughout, including help with the administration and funding requirements.
Applying my research to practical applications
After studying my PhD at UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering, part of Bartlett School of Energy Environment and Resources, I saw the KTP as an ideal chance to continue my research into practical application. As an architect and building performance analyst, I’ve done a lot of work on assessing the operational performance of buildings – that is, in terms of energy use and environmental impact. So, to work with a company looking to incorporate this extra level of functionality into the software tools used by building designers and analysts was very appealing to me.
DesignBuilder’s existing product is focused primarily on the energy performance of new buildings. In other words, it’s mainly used when designing new facilities, to assess their potential environmental impact. But given lots of organisations have existing buildings which may not be performing to their optimal potential, DesignBuilder was keen to add dedicated operational stage tools. This would enable their customers to reduce the impact of all their buildings, irrespective of their age.
Partnering with UCL, through the KTP programme, has given DesignBuilder access to the technical expertise to do this. They’ve been able to tap into the latest research from UCL’s Institute for Environmental Design & Engineering to lead the way in this relatively new field.
Bridging the gap between academia and industry
As the KTP Associate, I’ve supported the development of the company’s new software, by providing subject expertise to the developers. I’ve been the liaison between the company and university, and also helped with training on the new tools, and marketing and outreach.
The project has been a fantastic opportunity to get involved in research that bridges the gap between academia and industry.
From UCL’s perspective, it’s also given the academic team the chance to engage with industry and share best practices, to help shape what this exciting new area of building modelling is set to look like.
How the KTP transformed the business
DesignBuilder launched the new version of their software in April 2021 and it’s been well received so far. We’re still developing some of the tools, and will be adding to the package in phases.
We’re now exploring other avenues and funding mechanisms to continue this mutually-beneficial partnership past the KTP.
The benefits of being involved in a KTP
Personally, I’ve gained a lot from working in both the company and the university, much more that I would have if I were doing either of those things separately. I’ve had opportunities to share my new technical skills and experience by teaching at UCL and contributing to industry webinars. I’ve also participated in research and academic papers, developed network connections and got involved in industry bodies and committees.
Overall, the project has done a lot in terms of helping me become a much more rounded building performance analyst, and opened the door to opportunities for me in both academia and industry.
Getting involved as a KTP Associate
The success of KTPs ultimately lie in the cooperation between the university and the company, and your role as the Associate is to bring them to the same page. So, to excel in the role, you need to be focused and hardworking, and have good interpersonal communication skills.
There’s a lot of support on offer. UCL Innovation & Enterprise have been there at every point, to help with the admin and funding requirements, and keep the project on track.
Above all, a KTP is a fantastic chance to grow as a researcher but with a strong practical perspective, where you’re applying your knowledge to a specific company’s goals. There’s a lot to learn and gain from that process.
Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) aim to help businesses improve their competitiveness and productivity through better use of the knowledge, technology and skills held within the UK knowledge base. This KTP project received financial support from UKRI through Innovate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
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