Siobhán Jordan: Scots awards to inspire excellence

Mara Seaweed, winners of the Sustainable Partnership Award with the Scottish Association for Marine Science. Picture: Contributed
Mara Seaweed, winners of the Sustainable Partnership Award with the Scottish Association for Marine Science. Picture: Contributed
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IT’S AN opportunity for businesses and academic teams, says Siobhán Jordan

Last month we launched the first ever Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards. By launching the awards we’re providing a platform to celebrate many achievements and successes, including: the outstanding track record of Scottish academia in the co-creation of innovative products, processes and services from knowledge exchange; Interface’s tenth anniversary and the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, which will prove an ideal opportunity to recognise the fantastic achievements that Scotland has made throughout history.

These awards build upon the Interface Excellence Awards and ensure that all academic and business collaborations can be recognised, not only those facilitated by Interface, Interface Food & Drink or Innovation Voucher Funding.

Applying for awards and attending associated events – whether as a nominee or not – are important milestones for companies and academics. They can inspire everyone involved to always look to the pursuit of excellence. Entering awards contests, for some businesses and academic teams is one element of a larger set of marketing possibilities. Completing the application form, making the short list and winning provide opportunities to reflect on achievements, to elevate team morale and to create a buzz and recognition amongst peers as “ones to watch”.

But this is not only an opportunity for businesses who are already working with academia to celebrate their success, it’s also an opportunity to be inspired by hearing from other businesses about the benefits of working with universities and research institutions. Speaking directly to them about how they have increased their productivity, turnover and profits by creating innovative partnerships can give reassurance as well as inspiration to “Go Do”.

The five award categories for the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards recognise all the key ingredients for successful academic and business partnerships.

We are inviting entries to the following: Innovation of the Year Award, for the development of an innovative product, process or service; the Sustained Partnership of the Year Award, for a collaboration that has demonstrated a long-term partnership; the Outstanding Contribution to Knowledge Exchange Award, recognising an individual who has played a pivotal role in knowledge exchange within Scotland; the Multi-Collaborative Project Award, for groups of companies who are working with academia for mutual benefit, and the newly created Building Skills Through Knowledge Exchange Award which recognises Postgraduates or Knowledge Transfer Partnership Associates who have worked within a business to increase innovation.

We have been delighted to hear of the ongoing successes of previous Interface award winners who continue to be in the spotlight.

For example, Perth-based Loadfast Systems, who were winners of Innovation of the Year Award through their partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University, have been extending their international customer base throughout Georgia, Louisiana and Texas in the US, visiting over 50 clients to discuss their unique engineering products.

John Fuller, Loadfast’s chief executive, said recently that from receiving the initial Innovation Voucher funding to their first orders took just two years, which for this type of technology to be accepted, is a very short timescale.

He said: “The ongoing support from everyone as a result has no doubt helped us achieve our goals of providing a step change in dust and damage control.”

Mara Seaweed, winners of the Sustainable Partnership Award with the Scottish Association for Marine Science, University of the Highlands and Islands, produces an award-winning range of shake-on seaweed seasonings and healthy salts marketed as “Flavours of Scotland”. Mara launched in Harrods in 2014 and is now on sale in M&S nationwide. Filling the Western demand for high flavour, healthy salt alternatives, Mara is now making inroads into the Asian market, where seaweed is part of the daily diet. The deadline for entries is Friday 11th December 2015.

• Siobhán Jordan, director of Interface

• For more information on the awards, to apply and reserve your place visit