Richard Darwood is currently a Development Chemist at Salts Healthcare Ltd. Salts Healthcare manufacturer and supply stoma care and orthotic products. They are one of the oldest family-owned companies in the UK and sell their products all over the world.
Richard credits his experiences as a KTP (Knowledge Transfer Partnership) Associate with allowing him to continue his academic development whilst giving him valuable industrial experience.
After gaining his undergraduate degree in Applied Chemistry at Aston University Richard went on to work on a lab-based research project analysing polymers. When the opportunity to join Salts as a KTP Associate presented itself Richard saw plenty of potential interest in the project and was soon getting to grips with the particular needs of the company at that time.
Salts had initiated the KTP project as they were keen to develop a new skin adhesive using polymers. Richard quickly came to form the view that the company needed an increased understanding of the complicated chemistry involved in its current products before anything new could be developed. Looking back at his first few weeks Richard feels that he was ‘thrown in at the deep end’ in some ways but that this made him feel that his input and specialist knowledge was both trusted and valued by Salts.
The realities of operating in a commercial setting, particularly within an SME, were very different from the work Richard had done previously in academia, where there were no market or financial pressures. He believes that his experience as an Associate was invaluable in developing an understanding of how business works through getting him out of the lab and into a commercial environment.
The new product that was eventually developed went on to be the company’s first £1 million product – a great success for Salts. Richards influence within the company has also seen the creation and growth of a dedicated research and development team which Richard’s current role is part of.
Richard made good use of the formal development opportunities available to him as part of the KTP scheme, accessing training on all aspects of management, including preparing and delivering presentations. Richard now regularly gives presentations on behalf of Salts to large conferences of surgeons and nurses, often across Europe and even further afield.
In his 10 years working for Salts Richard has had the opportunity to work with new KTP Associates from the company perspective, and has been continually impressed with the way that the Associates have developed in confidence, knowledge and energy during the term of the projects.
Richard is certain that the best thing about his experience with KTP was ‘knowing that the work you are doing is making a real difference to an actual business’.