The application of cutting the edge research into real problems that are addressed with commercially viable products is the main philosophy within Signal, and the main drive that has guided my professional life. This does not mean that I do not appreciate them independently: Research by itself provides insight into untapped knowledge and pushes the boundaries of human intellect. On the other hand, huge enterprises and fortunes have been created thanks to brilliant products that lacked significant innovative research. However, I strongly believe that the best way to succeed, especially in the IT world, is by aligning the best possible research to address real problems faced by potential clients and present a product which is commercially attractive.
Some time ago I was in the InnovateUK and KTP Best of the best awards conference, where I was awarded the Business Leader of Tomorrow Award. The main goal of the InnovateUK event was to be a showcase for some of the most innovative and brilliant companies within the UK to present their inventions to the world. I was greatly surprised to see a broad range of ideas and projects, from a transportation device made by the ESA (European Space Agency) that I was told will land on Mars, to new generation boats that can be used for marine expeditions or military operations with any type of weather conditions or a beautiful electric motorcycle.
In addition to these projects, InnovateUK also has a program called Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) which main goal is to share knowledge and skill between academics and industry. The KTP provides the infrastructure and the professional support to make such collaboration a real possibility and they also grant a significant amount of money into the companies that are accepted. The KTP is the main reason why I was invited to the event. Signal is one of those companies that have been awarded a KTP, in this case with the University of Essex. This relationship could not have been better for us. The grant allowed me to travel to different conferences, helping us to promote Signal and expand our network. Moreover, the connection with Essex provided us with a direct line of communication to Dr. Udo Kruschwitz and Prof. Massimo Poesio, two of the world-leading academics in the Information Retrieval and Natural Language Processing Fields. In addition, the University of Essex has provide us with a pool of fantastic students, at different levels, some of whom have been working with us in different roles.
The KTP is a fantastic program and I am shocked that no so many companies (specially SMEs) are using it. I strongly encourage anyone who is driving innovation and development to apply as it is, in my honest opinion, a clear win-win for every single party involved.