University Partnership with Silentnight Group helps consumers make smarter decisions

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) are a three-way collaboration. They are a government-funded programme through Innovate UK. They help businesses like Silentnight improve competitiveness, productivity and performance, through seamless interfacing with the University’s experts.

Silentnight Group based in Barnoldswick, Lancashire have been working with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) on several partnerships. One of which has seen the implementation of evidence-based research into recent marketing claims, helping to underpin the group’s position as the UK’s most trusted sleep brand. The campaign was developed after a significant change in the perception and value of evidence-based marketing brought about by the partnership.

Professor of Biomechanics at UCLan, Jim Richards explained: “The partnership between Silentnight and the Allied Health Research unit at UCLan aimed to enhance the evidence-based marketing of mattress selection through “Better Sleep Backed by Science” and has allowed the development of a decision tool that allows consumers to make smarter decisions when purchasing a mattress.”

The other partnership involved innovation in fire chemistry which has helped the company to future proof to become more resilient, helping to inform government strategy on the regulation of fire safety in the home.

"The two new initiates will be managed by the two KTP Associates who have now been welcomed into the company as full-time Research Knowledge Managers."

Angela Moran, ESG Director at Silentnight Group

Professor of Chemistry and Fire Science, Richard Hull said: “We worked with Silentnight to understand the chemical, health and environmental implications of the flame retardants their suppliers had been using. We evaluated the effectiveness and hazards of the flame retardant in the fabrics and fillings and used this information to help Silentnight select the cleanest, greenest components to use in their beds. The additional scientific input is now having impacts throughout the furniture industry, and fits very well with the government's imminent revision of the furniture flammability regulations.”

Angela Moran, ESG Director at Silentnight Group, highlights the value that KTPs bring: Both KTPs with the University of Central Lancashire have been a very rewarding experience, challenging all parties involved and enriching collective wisdom through knowledge exchange. We now view our relationship as a long-term partnership and are very much looking forward to a couple of new joint initiatives.

The two new initiates will be managed by the two KTP Associates who have now been welcomed into the company as full-time Research Knowledge Managers. The managers will be working with UCLan on two new projects. One of these will focus on further improving the nation’s sleep through innovative new testing devices, the other in driving the company forward in material science, especially around the use of fire retardants and the group’s vision to move towards a more circular economy.

"My current exciting career path as Silentnight’s Sleep Expert would not have been possible without the kick start from the KTP."

Hannah Shore, Sleep Knowledge and Research Manager

Former KTP Associate and current Sleep Knowledge and Research Manager, Hannah Shore said: “The KTP allowed me to apply the knowledge and skills I have learnt throughout university, into an industry I hadn’t considered previously. Being able to work with both the university and industry together expanded my research knowledge to real-world business scenarios. My current exciting career path as Silentnight’s Sleep Expert would not have been possible without the kick start from the KTP.”

Jake Lane, Material Research and Knowledge Manager at Silentnight Group, revealed: "I was attracted to KTPs as I wanted to carry out research that had real world benefits. The KTP allowed me to develop and broaden my skills and knowledge, giving me insights into business and industry while maintaining links with academia. Since the KTP ended, I have continued to work for Silentnight as Materials Knowledge and Research Manager, giving a more holistic insight into the materials that make up their mattresses and beds.”

For any company thinking about a KTP, Angela said: “We would absolutely recommend the KTP route as it’s a unique way to not only engage in research, but to broaden perspectives and identify future stars for your business. The impact of the academic-business-associate collaboration not only adds variety and richness but helps change behaviours and beliefs."

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