KTP Associate's new role helping to revolutionise fingerprint forensics

Investigating environmentally-friendly ways of developing fingerprints which could revolutionise worldwide forensic technology is the task for one De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) KTP Associate.

Matthew Needham is now a Knowledge Transfer Associate, in a three-year collaboration with West Technology Forensics in Bristol. His role involves advancing solvent-free techniques for fingerprint enhancement and evaluating their efficiency in comparison to the conventional methods recommended for use by forensic teams.


Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) links universities with business on innovative projects that have the potential to boost growth. The £300,000 project has been funded by Innovate UK with support from West Technology.

A KTP Associate is a recent graduate who is employed by the university for the duration of the KTP project. The role of the KTP associate is to work closely with the academic partner and the company to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, develop and implement solutions to specific challenges, and help the business adopt new practices or technologies, with the associate acting as a bridge between the two, ensuring that the project objectives are met.

Matthew, who completed his Master's degree in Chemistry and Forensic Science at the University of Leicester last year, said: "I'm thrilled to be taking on this new position. When I saw the job listing, it seemed like a perfect fit for me, offering a valuable opportunity to apply my knowledge. The prospect of introducing fresh ideas to law enforcement and positively impacting future casework is a significant motivator for me in this project with West Technology."

When discussing the specific knowledge and expertise he brings to the project, Matthew explained, "During my master's studies at the University of Leicester, I made numerous connections within the forensic community. These connections will prove immensely beneficial as we work on developing this new device to meet the business's needs."

Dr Kevin Farrugia, an Associate Professor in Forensic Chemistry and a fingerprint researcher based at DMU, is collaborating with Matthew and West Technology on the project aimed at developing innovative methods and applications. These advancements will undergo comprehensive assessment in accordance with guidelines set by the UK Home Office and the International Fingerprint Research Group.

Dr Farrugia said: "Matt started the role in September, and it’s been great. I actually knew Matt from his time pursuing his master's degree at the University of Leicester. We received the news of our successful KTP application in February, so we’re excited to get started on this exceptional project. The potential for its impact in the forensic industry is significant."

Leisa Nichols-Drew, an Associate Professor in Forensic Biology at DMU, is also lending her support to the project. She said, "I am privileged to be part of this Knowledge Transfer Partnership opportunity and to collaborate with West Technology on a project with the potential to be ground-breaking."

Posted on Monday 23 October 2023

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