Business-university partnerships offer a collaborative way of testing, developing and creating new or improving, adapting and diversifying existing products, processes and services – which for many organisations will be critical over the coming months.
Local, national and international businesses benefit significantly from tapping into Scotland’s universities and colleges through Interface, a matching service which has team members located across Scotland
Our regional team members are a bridge to local business and community networks and to universities, colleges and research institutes. We are touching all parts of society – from contributing to low carbon targets to making a difference to everyday lives. Crucially we are supporting fragile rural economies and sectors hardest hit by the pandemic such as tourism, food and drink and hospitality.
The contribution to the Scottish economy from research and development projects between businesses and academics enabled by Interface was £88.9m GVA (gross value added), and supported 1,595 jobs, with expectations to reach £222.3 million GVA and 3,193 jobs.
The findings were captured in a new independent report by leading independent economic consultancy BiGGAR Economics Ltd, which also highlighted the wider wellbeing and environmental benefits to society as the collaborative projects tackled major challenges such as health improvement, low carbon, community support, delivering education, helping young people, supporting international development and alleviating poverty.
The report states: “The need to do things differently, to innovate, is crucial for Scotland’s recovery from Covid-19 and to meet its net zero carbon targets. The evidence presented demonstrates that Interface is a value for money service that delivers right across the economy, creating GVA and jobs while also driving sustainable and inclusive growth and well-being.”
Welcoming the report, Karen Watt, Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said: “Universities and colleges play a vital and effective role in supporting forward-looking businesses across Scotland to create new products and services through innovation. As we look towards economic recovery after the pandemic, this report is another reminder of Scotland’s resilience. It also highlights the part SFC-funded Interface plays as a catalyst for collaborations between businesses and academics.”
Interface has a successful history of business-academic partnerships with business demand for the service increasing consistently since it was established in 2005. Over the past months despite the pandemic, the team have serviced record-breaking levels of demand with the need for businesses to co-design new products, processes and services to survive and drive economic recovery. The service has delivered over 2,500 business academic collaborations since it was established in 2005.
Encouragingly, three quarters of businesses reported ongoing relationships with universities because of Interface brokerage, demonstrating the strength of the connections and collaborations.
One business quoted in the report stated: “With everything I do now, Interface sits at the back of my mind, thinking is there a link with an academic that could help me with this issue?”.
We are in a unique position to make a real difference to all aspects of society through the connections we catalyse enabling world leading research to be purposeful.
More about The Contribution of Interface to Sustainable and Inclusive Economic Growth can be found at www.interface-online.org.uk
Dr Siobhán Jordan, Director, Interface