How university helps firms TIC right boxes

THE impressive new Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC) at the University of Strathclyde is set to take Scotland’s record of commercialising academic research to a whole new level.

Rebecca Pick of Pick Protection, Ross McEwan and Dr Steve Graham, executive director TIC, at the University of Strathclyde. Picture: Ian Jacobs

The centre will see academics and industrial partners working side-by-side in a world-leading facility. It has cost £90 million, and is funded by the university and the Scottish Government. Planning and construction has taken five years, and its distinctive design means that the TIC will be a major landmark in Glasgow.

Dr Steve Graham, chief executive of the TIC, said: “One of the aims of the centre is to ensure that we foster new business creation working with potential partners such as RBS.

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“It is very important to us to partner with a bank like RBS. The university is committed to collaboration and and building relationships, so that our researchers and students can have access to the bank’s vast reach of corporate clients.”

Joining academic research and industrial know-how has been part of the university’s culture since its inception in 1796.

Strathclyde University’s expertise in developing spin-out companies from its technological research
is well known, and is amply demonstrated by the example of Silent Herdsman, a leading firm in the creation of hardware and software to assist farmers.

Its best-known product to date is a collar that enables farmers to accurately identify beef and dairy cattle, and which will shortly be developed to enable farmers to keep up-to-the-minute health checks on all their livestock.

The latest innovation by the company that was formerly known as Embedded Technology Solutions is mySilent Herdsman, a cloud-based mobile version of its farm PC software.

It will enable users to access the most reliable automatic heat detection technology for use on large commercial farms from any place, at any time, and on any device.

Drew Sloan, chief executive of Silent Herdsman, said: “Strathclyde University is central to our whole story. The original research was done by the University and three of the key people in the research project were involved in starting what is a classic spin-out company –
the founders and the university are still involved today.”

Cameron MacQuarrie, the founder of Big Noodle, who orchestrated bringing the two powerhouses of RBS and TIC together, believes that collaboration in this environment will provide an unprecedented breeding ground for a new generation of Scottish ingenuity. He said: “RBS totally embraces the spirit of altruism around helping entrepreneurs. It genuinely wants to utilise its considerable expertise, reach and influence to help these brilliant TIC innovators become successful, because ultimately that benefits the community as a whole.

“Its simply the right thing to
do – that’s what RBS, and all of us involved in this, have done. It’s pretty exciting.”

Proving that Strathclyde is producing the entrepreneurs of the future is Rebecca Pick, 21, who is still an undergraduate at the university but is also the founder of Pick Protection. She has invented a sophisticated and discreet personal alarm that will immediately attract police, family members and friends to the fact that a person is in trouble and also show the location where the alarm is activated – it will also record dialogue to help get convictions if a person is attacked.

Pick said: “I still have to sit exams in May but I have already received funding awards and investment offers and I will be devoting myself to business from June. The first 1,000 will be manufactured and on the market by September.”

She is already looking at potential markets, such as companies where women have to work alone, and added: “RBS has been very helpful in helping me to penetrate these markets and they have even said they would consider trialing my alarm with their staff.

“The connections that RBS has made for me has pushed my business on leaps and bounds.”

Rebecca Pick has big ambitions for her invention and no doubt we’ll read a lot more about her and her alarm.