Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University seals partnership to build global innovators

Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University has struck a key partnership deal in a bid to build the multinational Scottish scale-ups of the future.

The Grid building, based at Heriot-Watt University, is a ground-breaking facility designed to advance global research, innovation and discovery.
The Grid building, based at Heriot-Watt University, is a ground-breaking facility designed to advance global research, innovation and discovery.

The capital institution’s Global Research Innovation and Discovery (Grid) facility will combine its entrepreneurial talent pool with product development agency Filament PD’s commercial and industry experience to help scale businesses capable of competing on the global stage.

The partnership expects to drive investment, improve route-to-market for new technologies and “boost Scotland’s reputation for cutting edge design internationally”.

Filament PD has already supported some of Scotland’s most innovative start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It has brought more than 100 products to market in the last five years by harnessing innovation and transforming research into successful ventures.

Examples include digitally tagged coffee cups to tackle the disposable cup challenge and a technology traditionally used in lighthouse lenses to allow food to be cooked without a power source.

The partnership will also run programmes designed to upskill students, boosting job opportunities and sparking entrepreneurship.

Paul Devlin, head of commercialisation at Heriot-Watt University, said: “Scotland has a proud history of invention, coupled with a prosperous start-up culture.

“Our partnership with Filament PD will connect people, ideas and skills in order to develop commercial products that not only compete but lead the market.

“This underpins the value we place on our students working on real-world problems, collaborating across disciplines to deliver practical solutions with global impact, as well as our academics and existing industry partnerships.”

He added: “Collaboration and the sharing of expertise generates stronger opportunities for research and development funding and, by working together, we can support high calibre, industry-ready graduates while securing investment to help grow and scale successful businesses.”

Gregor Aikman, co-founder and managing director of Filament PD, said: “By collaborating in this way, we can ensure we have the collective skills and knowledge to develop, and most importantly retain, intellectual property in Scotland – ultimately driving domestic employment, revenue and exports. In the current climate, this is even more important as restrictions tighten once again.

“By working with the network of students, academics, start-ups and scale-ups at Grid to progress ideas right through to product delivery, we can improve speed-to-market, therefore winning valuable commercial advantage over global competitors and boosting Scotland’s success and reputation further.

“Grid has a unique mix of disciplines which includes computer game modelling, engineering and electronics. As a world leader in academic and entrepreneurial excellence, Grid features the latest in technological innovation, and we were particularly drawn to its augmented reality and virtual reality capabilities.”

The Grid building, based at Heriot-Watt University, is a £19 million ground-breaking facility designed to advance global research, innovation and discovery. Its ambition is to bring together world-leading talent and the brightest minds to tackle current industry challenges, pioneering innovations to drive future economies and build companies of scale.

Last month, Heriot-Watt launched its “prospectus for recovery and growth”, illustrating the institution’s commitment to supporting the global recovery efforts in relation to the Covid pandemic. The prospectus places collaboration, partnership and accelerating commercialisation at the heart of its approach.

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