Vision Scotland: Brave approach to innovation

The Trolley for the Elderly lifts and lowers at the flip of a switch, and was designed as part of the Scottish Engineering Leaders Award by Aidan McCann, a then P7 pupil at Cromarty Primary in Inverness.
The Trolley for the Elderly lifts and lowers at the flip of a switch, and was designed as part of the Scottish Engineering Leaders Award by Aidan McCann, a then P7 pupil at Cromarty Primary in Inverness.

Scotland does not shy away from its ambition to be a leader of innovation.

It is, after all, the nation that gave the world John Logie Baird’s television, Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone and John Boyd Dunlop’s pneumatic tyre.

More recently Sir James Black’s work on beta blockers, the cloning of Dolly the Sheep and the discovery of the Higgs boson have put Scottish science in the spotlight.

In architecture, the Queensferry Crossing and the V&A in Dundee, show that Scotland can collaborate internationally to create world class building on our shores. The new bridge, for example, with a length of 2.7km and a height of 207m, is both the UK’s tallest and the world’s longest triple tower cable-stayed structure span.

Meanwhile, a collection of eight government-funded innovation centres are driving positive change in key areas of Scotland’s economy.

They are creating skilled jobs and attracting inward investment, while improving patient care and ways of working – they are doing so by connecting industry and academia.

It is this collaboration that will make give Scotland a competitive edge in the global economy.

In the Year of Young people, our first feature in this edition of Vision Scotland explores some of the initiatives that are inspiring Scotland’s young people into science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

It highlights the need for greater equality in those areas and a better understanding of the vast number of opportunities available through STEM subjects.

However, innovation goes beyond science and technology; it involves moving away from the day-to-day business and improving or changing processes.

Kirsty McLuckie looks at the creative approach taken by food and drink companies to ensure they reach as many customers as possible.

The thought-provoking piece explores dark kitchens and asks if they will challenge or transform traditional restaurants.

In the drinks industry, our whisky distilleries are leading the way for waste reduction and contributing to the circular economy.

We found that surplus energy from Ardnamurchan Distillery in the west coast is being used to grow microalgae – a group of organisms currently imported and used for health foods, salmon feed and even 3D printing.

Removing the need for microalgae imports could save up to £200 per kilogram and make use of Scotland’s abundance of resources.

The government’s Life Sciences Strategy for Scotland 2025 Vision aims to increase the sector’s turnover by £8 billion.

It will also be the focal point of a major international event held in Glasgow entitled Life Sciences in Scotland: Moving Forward Together – to 2025 and Beyond.

The November event will attract politicians, business owners and academics who will examine the key priorities for growth as well as Scotland’s position globally.

It is clear that in a world of fast-paced technological advancement, innovation is key to the success of any business regardless of sector.

If Scotland wants to stay ahead of the game, we must continue to develop such creative and progressive ways of doing things.

Frank O’Donnell is the editorial director of The Scotsman.

This article featured in the Autumn 2018 edition of Vision Scotland. A digital edition can be found here.