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National award for DMU's business-boosting student


Universities Minister David Willetts has presented a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Associate at De Montfort University (DMU) with a national award for her work to boost business at a Leicester arts centre.

Katie Flaherty, 27, was employed by DMU to run a two-year KTP project with the Phoenix in Leicester that aimed to develop an audience strategy and a high quality arts programme that would help position the venue as an international centre for digital arts. 

As a consequence of the project, Phoenix has secured more than £450,000 of new grant funding and been recognised as an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation.

The success of the project has now earned Katie a prestigious ‘Business Leader of Tomorrow’ award as part of the Knowledge Transfer Partnership awards, funded by the Government’s Technology Strategy Board.

Katie, who has just completed her MSc in Cultural Events Management at DMU, is delighted to have won the award.

"I'm extremely proud at what we were able to achieve," said Katie, who's from Benfleet in Essex.

"On a professional level, the project was a huge success - and I am pleased that we developed a partnership with Arts Council England. With impressive and growing audiences, the project has provided an important underpinning for Phoenix's international positioning.

"But on a personal level, it's been brilliant too. The KTP gave me a fantastic opportunity to have strategic influence on the organisation, which has helped me to develop my leadership skills in the arts, culture and related business sectors.

"As a direct result of the KTP, I'm now working as Phoenix's business development manager - leading Phoenix's development plans and supporting its ambition to become a world class centre for digital arts.”

Katie received her award from David Willetts, Universities and Science Minister, at a ceremony in London last Thursday (22 November).

Joining her at the ceremony was Dr Tracy Harwood, Senior Researcher at the Institute of Creative Technologies, DMU, who supervised Katie’s work on the project.

“This was a tough challenge, considering the current economic climate which has impacted both public spending and grant funding, but Katie has done an exceptional job,” said Dr Harwood.

“At DMU we have a long history of successful KTPs, but this is the first time that one of our projects has been recognised with an award from the Technology Strategy Board.

“This is a personal award for Katie, and we’re delighted for her – but we’re also extremely pleased with the outcome of the project, which has produced a clear strategic direction for Phoenix over the next few years.”

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: “Katie’s ability to turn around a challenging project into a success has led to her being a KTP winner. She’s a driving force in the arts world and a true inspiration. She definitely has a ‘can do’ mentality and this is much needed to steer UK business on the right track to success.”

Chief Executive Officer at Phoenix, John Rance, is delighted with the project’s outcomes.

“We have realised a significant opportunity as a result of the KTP. It is hugely significant that Phoenix has become an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation,” said John.

“As a consequence, we have strengthened relationships with our investors, improved our market positioning and secured more than £450,000 of new grant funding to develop Phoenix as an international arts organisation.

“The expertise and skills that DMU brought to the table played a key role in the success of this project.”

DMU has a long track record of managing and completing KTPs, having worked with more than 90 companies from a variety of sectors and industries. Through KTP, companies are able tap into cutting-edge university expertise and gain access to top graduate employees. 

To find out if De Montfort University’s Knowledge Transfer Team can help your business, call 0116 257 7028 or visit

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships aim to stimulate business innovation by drawing on the expertise in UK universities and colleges and transferring that knowledge by placing a recently qualified individual into a company to deliver innovation and business growth.

There are some 800 KTPs across the country, funded by 15 Government organisations and led by the Technology Strategy Board. Each Partnership is part-funded by Government with the balance of the costs coming from the company partner.

Katie’s project received its main funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Technology Strategy Board and the Economic and Social Research Council.

DMU has a long association with Phoenix, which hosts the DMU Cube, a digital exhibition space showing innovative staff and student work to the public. Entry is free of charge. 



Posted on Monday 19th November 2012

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