Fiona Hutchison, Senior Engagement Executive at Interface, blogs for us about the links that they can help foster between graduates, businesses and universities, and the subsequent benefits of this.
It’s the time of year again for summer graduations. You may have noticed an added influx of visiting friends and relatives to our towns and cities. But did you know Scotland has more world-class universities than any other country by head of population? We have 2,000 academic departments with more than 15,000 academic staff and over 1,200 facilities on our doorstep.
Given these impressive, but slightly intimidating statistics, where would a business start to access this valuable resource of specialist subject expertise, technologies and facilities? Since 2005, Interface have helped over 2,700 businesses across Scotland find academic partners. Most of the businesses we help are SMEs and regularly hear about us through Business Gateway, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise teams.
We take the time to talk to businesses and source them the right support through our confidential and impartial brokerage service. Companies are helped to develop new services, processes and products to generate income, or to introduce efficiencies to save costs. Businesses supported by Interface contribute £64.2 million gross value added (GVA) a year for the Scottish economy, supporting around 1,060 Scottish jobs.
The business and university collaborations also foster a number of innovations that have wider impacts on communities and the environment across Scotland. Here are a few examples relating to connectivity, energy generation and health and social care:
Our team have supported the Argyll based business Craine Communications to partner with Heriot Watt University. Together they developed a self-sufficient mast using renewable energy. This mast relays the broadband signal wirelessly via radio links in remote rural areas. The product offers a solution for providing ‘back of beyond broadband’.
East Lothian based business Sunamp partnered with University of Edinburgh to improve their unique batteries. These batteries store and provide heat to warm a building or deliver hot water. What’s more, University of Aberdeen were a successful match for the technology company Capture Mobility. This company developed a roadside micro wind turbine that generates energy from passing traffic and filters out carbon from the air.
Cutting-edge expertise in ultrasound technology was found within University of the West of Scotland for the company Snap40. They developed wearable ultrasound devices for people in hospitals, care settings and their own homes. The system allows professionals to monitor patient’s vital signs and alert them to any escalation of their conditions.
A number of years ago, Interface introduced Albyn Housing Society to the University of the Highlands and Islands to scope the provision of Assisted Living Technologies to improve residents’ well-being. They are still working together on use of artificial intelligence, now in connection with the FitHome village in Alness.
In addition to supporting individual companies like the examples above Interface also work with groups of organisations involved in key sectors; Creative Industries, Food and Drink and Tourism to build collaborative projects which address sector challenges or opportunities. Another reason, besides the graduation season, to celebrate!
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