Three good reasons businesses love colleges

9th February 2024
Written by: Shelley Breckenridge, Interface, and City of Glasgow College Co-opted Committee Member.

It’s #LoveScotlandsColleges Week, and to acknowledge the central role colleges play in their local and regional innovation ecosystem, Interface is highlighting three examples where colleges have supported businesses to develop new capabilities, making them more competitive and delivering environmental benefits.

An electrical engineering graduate from City of Glasgow College, Dale Colley was keen to tap into research expertise in applying technology to tackle water pollution.

Dale’s company Altitude Thinking Ltd, partnered with his former college – renowned for its nautical, engineering and maritime studies – as it had the right mix of skills, workshop facilities and expertise required for this project, such as electronics, electrical systems, marine engineering, navigation and propulsion – under one roof at the college’s Riverside Campus.

Together the partners developed, constructed and tested a prototype of a programmable drone that can safely navigate Scottish waterways producing accurate, real-time reports on water pollution levels. Dale’s ambition is to develop a drone which can remove litter and other pollutants from waterways using suction pumps.

Another example, Dundee entrepreneur, Karen Hamilton, is a bespoke dress designer making bridal and evening wear. Karen began developing lace designs for printing and managed to print 3D lace samples and collar pieces, which could be added to garments.

To prevent material waste, Karen had the idea that lace fabric could be printed in a single piece using recycled material, however she didn’t have access to the expertise or facilities to do this.

Interface facilitated Karen to find specialist facilities at Dundee and Angus College. Their Learning Lab provided Karen with guidance, expert knowledge and practical supervision of the use of equipment enabling her to print the fabric in one piece.

Borders-based Thermafy Group Ltd. developed ThermaFy, a digital platform for determining how dirty a heating system is. To ensure the software could be rolled out across the industry, it was essential it was easy to use. No training modules existed designed specifically at educating heating engineers on how to use thermal cameras.

The company had previously worked with Fife College’s National Gas Training and Assessment Centre, and their specialist facilities, combined with the expertise of Thermafy Group Ltd. on these new processes and software, helped develop the specialist accredited modules that would enable the industry to adopt new working practises, increasing both their productivity and trust with their customers.

This collaboration is great illustration of a company collaborating with the right research expertise, in this case, Peter Jones, an academic with 30-plus years’ experience in the gas industry. With his input, the company quickly realised the importance of providing supplementary training material, allowing engineers to gain a better understanding of how to use the app and the thermal data obtained.

These innovative projects benefited from a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher, a collaborative funding programme managed by Interface. Innovation Vouchers, which are paid directly to colleges for research and development projects with businesses, have a value between £1,000 and up to £7,500. The business is asked to contribute a matching in kind value, such as staff time, materials, equipment or a combination.

Colleges work closely with small and micro businesses who need support with innovation journeys. The Interface team is here to support the process and is available to talk to business/organisations which may benefit from partnering with a college to develop a product, process or service. The Interface team also works with a number of organisations which offer funding to help stimulate innovation.

For further information please contact us