Category Archives: Food and drink

Eight days a week at #STW2017

By Dr Fiona Hutchison, Senior Engagement Executive for Tourism, Interface

Interface were very proud to be active participants in Scottish Tourism Week 2017. Designed for this crucial Scottish industry, a series of events took place across not seven, but eight days. My colleagues and I attended, exhibited and presented at a significant number of events across the country. You could find us in Argyll and the Isles, Dundee and Angus, Perthshire, the Borders, Fife, Glasgow, West Lothian and Edinburgh. Continue reading

From R&B to R&D


warren-baderFormer music video producer Warren Bader set up Plan Bee, a beehive management service which also produces honey and other hive products, to help reverse the decline in the bee population. He gave an inspirational talk at the 2016 Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards about his journey collaborating with academics, which started with Interface. Continue reading

Food Security at Stirling


rachel-norman-profile-pictureBy Rachel Norman, Chair of Aquatic Food Security, University of Stirling

Providing enough safe and nutritious food for a globally expanding population in the light of climate change and limited resources is a serious challenge which needs to be addressed over the next few years. Continue reading

The Real Food Doctors

By Howell Davies, Interface Food & Drink Business Engagement Executive

If you are expecting a Gillian McKeith-esque article informing you of the fact that ‘you are what you eat’, you probably want to put your I-pad down and get back to your orange zest and pomegranate quinoa.  What I am about to give you instead is a tip of the hat to some of the PhD Scholarships, Interface Food and Drink have helped to fund over the last five years.  What you don’t necessarily see sitting behind the food and drink products we buy off the shelves is a whole raft of intensive research underpinning the sector, some commissioned and supported by industry using Scotland’s world class academic base. Continue reading

Cracking the Innovation Nut

By Helen Pratt, Project Manager, Interface Food & Drink

The main themes of Interface Food & Drink over the course of its life have been innovation, collaboration and impact, and each of those themes played a role in selecting the winning applications for the Legacy Competition, and also when acting as a judge for the Success through Partnership category of the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence awards,

When the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) developed the idea that was to become Interface Food and Drink (IFD), they hoped to get academia more engaged with the industry, and they charged us with developing projects of sufficient scale that they would have economic impact. Neither our project winners, nor those of the SFD Excellence awards have been announced yet, so I won’t be giving the game away here, but suffice to say I am delighted with both the entries and the outcomes. There are entries representing genuine collaborations along the supply chain and not only interdisciplinary but inter-institutional partnerships.

Many of the entries, whether for the Legacy competition, the Excellence awards or indeed, simply the final round of IFD funding with Feasibility and Proof of Principle awards, have the potential to make a real impact, particularly environmentally as the drive to reduce waste or to turn it into something of value continues. While universities have collaborated with the industry for a long time to develop new products, we’ve seen the introduction of new processes which increase efficiencies, reduce costs and contribute to sustainability – all hugely important to the continued success of the industry in Scotland.

Innovation is always the toughest nut to crack – we bandy the word around a lot, and yet so often we hear from companies that they really don’t know what it means or that it’s up to someone else “to do”. Over the course of the last five years, we have seen companies innovate in all manner of ways. Sometimes it’s been about the way they have worked with competitors or supply chain partners, sometimes it’s been the introduction of new technologies or the application of older technologies in new ways. Sometimes it’s been high tech, more often than not, it’s low tech, but it’s always been interesting and it’s always demonstrated just how dynamic this industry is.

The IFD team are in the process of carrying out an impact survey and we’ll have a much better idea of the overall achievement when we’ve done that. In the meantime, with the benefit of hindsight there are, of course, things we would have done differently, but looking back at nearly 100 projects funded by SFC with more than £1.2m, I’m very proud of what’s been achieved.

Negotiating the labelling minefield (with a little help from the FHIS)

By Helen Saini, Founder ICHAI Teas

Food and drink labelling is an absolute minefield, as I discovered when ICHAI was undergoing a rebranding and website update. As a small company with no in-house expertise in this area, re-wording my product labels and website so that I complied with the latest regulations was a daunting task. ICHAI is a premium product and the main focus is on taste, quality and naturalness but being a plant biologist with a natural curiosity for these things, I have become interested in the health benefits of spices in my blends. Communicating these benefits in line with European regulations would have been much more challenging without the support I received from the Food and Health Innovation Service (FHIS).

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Research shows getting your chocolate fix could improve your health


By Lynne Russell, Communications Manager at Queen Margaret University Edinburgh

With a new year, comes a renewed drive to trim the waist line and shed the extra pounds gained during the excesses of the festive break. After scoffing the last of the chocolate Celebrations and the kid’s selection box, along with those Valentine’s Day sweet treats, we embrace wholeheartedly our new healthy eating plan. We might even consider setting foot in the gym – after all we are paying a hefty monthly membership fee and our lack of effort in attending any sessions over the darker months certainly isn’t resulting in value for money. Continue reading

Lateral thinking achieves results for Fishbox duo

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By Fiona and Magnus Houston

Husband and wife team, Fiona and Magnus Houston, of Coast and Glen, have been working with experts from University of Stirling to develop their innovative Fishbox. They will be speaking at the inaugural Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards on 25 February in a workshop session, along with University of Stirling’s Professor Rachel Norman.  Continue reading