KESS 2 scoops a double at Business Insider Awards

KESS 2 achieved a ‘double’ at the recent Business Insider Business and Education Partnerships Awards 2016.

KESS 2, which is led by Bangor University on behalf of the higher education sector in Wales, was awarded the Partnership Award and the Award for New Process was won by Dr Steffan Thomas of Bangor University and Sain Recordiau Cyf/Sain Records Ltd. This was also a project fulfilled through the previous KESS scheme and a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP).

KESS 2 at WalesBEPA Awards 2016

Dr Penny Dowdney, Brian Murcutt, Bryn Jones and Dr Steffan Thomas receiving the Partnership Award for KESS 2 at the Business and Education Partnerships Awards 2016.


Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS 2) is a £36m EU-backed scheme to develop post-graduate research and innovation skills in partnership with small and medium-sized businesses. It is a major pan-Wales operation involving all eight Universities in Wales and is supported by the European Social Fund (ESF) through the Welsh Government. Following the highly successful KESS project between 2009 and 2014, KESS 2 is now in the second round of funding and will provide 645 scholarships over the course of six years.

Professor John G Hughes, Vice-Chancellor at Bangor University said:

“I’m delighted that KESS 2 has received this recognition, it’s a valuable tool which enables higher education across Wales to provide graduates with research and development skills and to assist Wales’ vital businesses and organisations. The KESS project with Sain, is a great illustration of just how university expertise can assist businesses to grow and adapt to new markets.”

Dr Penny Dowdney, KESS 2 Wales Manager, said:

“It is a great honour for KESS 2 to receive this award on behalf of the universities involved. It illustrates how we can work in partnership to deliver high impact research projects in collaboration with local business partners.”

Dr Steffan Thomas’s project provides an excellent example of the scheme’s successful format. As part of the KESS project, Dr Thomas conducted extensive research into various aspects of Sain Records Ltd, including e-marketing, consumer behaviour, copyright law, piracy, emerging business models as well as reviewing other media industries’ practices. After collecting and analysing the survey responses of 1,500 people, a new business model was developed, that suited a production company working within a minority language. The main outcome of this collaborative work between Bangor University and Sain Records Ltd was the development of a new website and a new digital distribution store. These developments resulted in the company seeing a 70% rise in digital sales in the first 12 months and a further 15% increase year on year thereafter.

Dafydd Roberts, Chief Executive at Sain Records Ltd said:

“This relationship with Bangor University and Dr Steffan Thomas has enabled us at Sain to venture confidently, transfer our content and services to the digital formats and launch Apton, a new subscription based streaming service. These developments are crucial if we are to secure a sustainable future for the music industry in Wales.”

KESS 2 links businesses with academic expertise in the Higher Education sector in Wales to undertake collaborative research projects; KESS 2 builds on the expertise established during the first phase of KESS, and aims to deepen existing relationships with company partners as well as building new partnerships. KESS 2 Scholarships develop higher-level skills, an aspect of the project that benefits all participants.

There are currently 83 live KESS 2 projects and 137 approved to start, all with strong business-academic links and with innovative research in the pipeline. Current doctoral level research includes projects with company partners such as: ConvaTec Ltd  to develop  an ‘Anti-inflammatory  dressing for diabetic ulcers; Cwmni Da  to evaluate the success of the company’s Welsh language and bilingual aps and digital Material’; Jellagen; Cultech Ltd; Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics; P&S Nano; Tenovus and many more.

You can also read this story on Bangor University’s Doctoral School page: