A partnership between Sheffield Hallam University and a locally based horsebox manufacturer which led to the development of a new product design for the company has been graded outstanding by Innovate UK.

Sheffield Hallam collaborated with horsebox and trailer manufacturer Equi-Trek, based in Stocksbridge, over the last two years, to develop small new horseboxes and trailers with habitation for the North American market.

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) was graded outstanding by a panel of independent assessors appointed by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) – the national funding agency investing in science and research in the UK.

A KTP enables a business to bring in new skills and the latest academic thinking to deliver a specific, strategic innovation project through a knowledge-based partnership.

The knowledge transfer was applied to the development of a small horsebox for the North American market (US, Mexico and Canada) in line with the company’s strategic aim of expanding into these global markets.

With over 30 models, they have widely established export markets throughout Europe and as far afield as Australia and New Zealand – making them the largest horsebox / trailer manufacturer in the UK.

The KTP has enabled Equi-Trek to enhance all aspects of their new product development processes, including ergonomics, spatial design, technical analysis and manufacturing.

The programme provided a New Product Design methodology which has now been applied across their domestic and European range of horseboxes, horse trailers and motorhome vehicles.

Tom Janion, managing director of Equi-Trek said: “The KTP was a great success for which we are already reaping the benefits. The project has helped Equi-Trek to enter new horseboxes into diverse markets, establishing long term benefits to the business and increasing market shares both domestically and overseas.”

Anthony Jones, principal industrial designer at Design Futures and academic supervisor for the KTP said: “The KTP was a fantastic experience, a great way for academic staff to interact with companies, to develop their knowledge of different sectors to further  understand current industry practice.

“This successful KTP has reinforced the role that the University has in the region’s manufacturing and wider business community, and contributes to the University strategy, specifically our ‘Leading locally and engaging globally’ initiative.”

Professor Paul Chamberlain, Director Lab4Living and academic lead for the KTP said: “The project contributes to the University’s focus on ‘local and global’ and exemplifies and supports the institution’s strategy and ambition to establish itself as the leading applied University.”

The KTP Associate on the two-year programme was David Arnold, who was selected for the nationally advertised post, following his graduation from Sheffield Hallam University in 2018 with a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering.