Knowledge transfer has become one of the major policy goals of governments across the world and is being encouraged at the national and EU level. While policy makers and academics continue to look for a knowledge transfer model that will work for all universities, some recent analyses have shown that specific local and historic conditions that affect a university's ability to engage with the region need to be considered. This paper looks at the knowledge transfer activities of the three universities in the Greater Manchester area. All three universities are closely linked to their local environment and can trace their origin to the mid-nineteenth century and the development of Manchester as the "first industrial city". Differences in research priorities and funding (cuts) have affected their development and left us with three distinct knowledge transfer strategies.