Laura Goodfellow: A celebration of partnerships between industry and academia

The shortlisted finalists ' from a range of businesses large and small ' are all hoping to get their hands on a Knowledge Exchange Awards trophy
The shortlisted finalists ' from a range of businesses large and small ' are all hoping to get their hands on a Knowledge Exchange Awards trophy
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Today marks one of the highlights of the year for Interface, as we stage our annual celebration of business-academic partnerships across all industry sectors and academic disciplines.

This year the theme of The Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards is diversity – reflecting the broad range of businesses and organisations who have forged productive partnerships from tapping into a range of academic disciplines.

Laura Goodfellow, Head of Business Engagement, Interface

Laura Goodfellow, Head of Business Engagement, Interface

Scotland is renowned for being a nation of discovery: it is in our DNA. From Tarmacadam to the telephone, there is a long list of life-changing inventions which have delivered a global impact.

On this day of celebration, the Interface team will be joined by some of the country’s most innovative companies, and their world-renowned academic partners. Bringing the right people and organisations together can create a powerful union and deliver major economic impacts: in fact, when businesses innovate they are twice as likely to scale up and three times as likely to export.

Businesses can benefit from academic insights when developing products or improving processes and services – new partnerships can spark fresh ideas and solutions to persistent problems.

We have been connecting the worlds of business and academia since 2005, and in that time have supported the creation of thousands of successful partnerships. We light-heartedly refer to our team of business engagement staff as matchmakers: their knowledge of university capability and strong relationships within universities and research institutes enables them to find the right partners for businesses and organisations. Many of our matches have blossomed into long-term relationships which benefits both partners. For the business, this can be securing employment, expanding product ranges or exporting to new markets, and for the academic institution it can lead to new areas of research and trialling ideas in real-world scenarios. Often, much more can be achieved through collaborating than accomplished on our own.

Before the winners are revealed, we have invited a range of business people and academics to share their experiences and insights into working together as well as a fantastic line-up of keynote speakers, including Steve Stewart from the award winning independent craft brewery Stewart Brewing and Professor Eleanor Shaw, Hunter Centre of Entrepreneurship, University of Strathclyde.

The shortlisted finalists today are from a range of businesses, large and small, and feature impactful partnerships which have already resulted in a diverse range of outcomes, from restoring native European oysters in the Dornoch Firth to enhancing social care at home.

The shortlisted finalists are:

Innovation of the Year: Dolce Stil Novo Sound and University of Strathclyde; Norscot Joinery Ltd and University of Strathclyde; Windswept and Interesting and University of Strathclyde.

Building skills through Knowledge Exchange: Hassan Al-Budairi, KTP Associate of the School of Engineering, University of Glasgow and QTS Ltd; Dr Neil Thomson, KTP Associate from the Department of Pure & Applied Chemistry, University of Strathclyde and Rumbol Products of Clydebank; Petra Crocker, KTP Associate from Edinburgh Napier University and Multiply UK Ltd.

Social and Environmental Impact: Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project, pioneered by The Glenmorangie Company in partnership with Heriot-Watt University and the Marine Conservation Society; Leuchie House and Queen Margaret University; Moock Environmental Solutions Ltd and University of Dundee.

Multiparty Collaboration: AALART – Low-pixel Automatic Target Detection and Recognition: Thales UK, University of the West of Scotland and CENSIS Innovation Centre; e-frail: CM2000, Edinburgh Napier University; European Lead Factory: University of Dundee European Screening Centre Newhouse, BioAscent Discovery, Pivot Park Screening Centre, Lygature, the University of Oxford; Scottish Enterprise Open Innovation Programme: Scottish Enterprise, University of Strathclyde, Subsea 7, Stena Line, Doosan Babcock, Weir Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, NHS, Glasgow City Council, City of Edinburgh Council, Devro, SP Energy Networks, NCR, Raytheon.

Outstanding Contribution to Knowledge Exchange: Dr Annie Hill, Associate Professor, International Centre for Brewing and Distilling, Heriot-Watt University; Professor Bill Buchanan, Professor in the School of Computing, Edinburgh Napier University; Professor Mark Bradley, Professor of High-Throughput Chemical Biology, University of Edinburgh.

You may not have been able to join the biggest celebration of knowledge exchange in Scotland this year, so if you think that tapping into world-leading universities and research institutes could aid your business or organisation, take a look at some of our success stories ( and get in touch. We have a team located throughout Scotland who are ready to help shape your future relationships with universities, research institutes and colleges.

Laura Goodfellow, Head of Business Engagement, Interface