New for 2024, we are introducing a Meet the Team series, featuring a different member of the Interface team and what they do in a working week to support business-academic partnerships and more.
Kicking off the new series, is Lorna Watson, Business Engagement Executive for Tayside and Forth Valley.
“The great thing about my job at Interface is how varied the businesses and their challenges are, and not one day is the same. I get to meet many diverse and interesting businesses and to understand what their aspirations are which hopefully I can help them to achieve. Here is an insight into a typical week for me:
I headed to the Scottish Crannog Centre’s new location after their devastating fire in 2021. I have worked with the team at the centre since 2018 to help match them with expertise within universities for a variety of projects.
They have raised funds to move to Dalerb, a much larger site on the other side of Loch Tay. I went for a tour and catch up with the Managing Director, Mike Benson, to see how they are progressing as they aim to open the new site in Spring 2024. I have built up a long-term relationship and conducted several projects with The Crannog Centre over the years. It started with a feasibility study and design of a new form of interactive, mixed reality, immersive experience with the University of the West of Scotland to virtually link past dwellers and present visitors. They have also undertaken student placements and projects, for instance, graphic design students from the University of the Highlands and Islands designed a small comic book aimed at children which is designed to educate about life in Iron Age Scotland and the artifacts found on the excavation site and how they relate to life in 500BC. The Comic book will be sold in their new gift shop and not only educates children in a fun way, but it will help raise funds.
Following the tour of the iron age village and the new visitor centre, we were able to discuss what other projects could be of assistance to the Scottish Crannog Centre, which is highly involved with the local community, and the staff are all fabulous to work with, so it is definitely one of my favourite collaborations.
On Tuesday, I attended a Dundee and Angus Chamber event. Since I live an hour and a half away from Dundee, I always try to combine any events or meetings if possible. The event allowed us to network and enjoy the presentation from the Membership team, highlighting the many benefits of the Chamber’s membership and I got to network with some really interesting businesses, so well worth the effort of travelling.
After the event, I called in to the Centre of Entrepreneurship in Dundee, which is based in the University of Dundee campus to meet with Cat Ward about the Accelerator programme. The programme aims to promote and support innovative companies from Dundee, Tayside, and beyond to develop and expand. We arranged for me to attend their Ecosystem Day for their cohorts to be introduced to Interface and be offered 1-2-1 appointments to discuss the businesses requirements.
On Wednesday morning, I had a Teams meeting with a client. They were interested in developing a non-alcoholic drink infused with botanicals. They had some challenges with the consistency and colour of the product and were seeking some technical support to make the product more aesthetically pleasing. We discussed the main challenges and identified the outcomes they were looking for from the project. After working out their specific requirements, such as whether they would benefit from access to state-of-the-art research facilities and equipment, I conducted an academic search for them. This requires me to identify potential academics who might have the research and knowledge to support the client.
We generally give the universities and colleges 2 weeks to respond with an expression of interest. I collate all the responses and pull them together for the client to decide who they would like to have initial discussions with, and then I will make the introductions. It’s quite a skill balancing the different projects and supporting the different stages of every project with the clients and the universities.
On Thursday, I had a catch-up meeting with my line manager, we had a good general chat and caught up on what’s happening within Interface. As I am rurally based and work remotely, like many people now, it’s essential to stay up-to-date and in touch with work colleagues and we have regular Teams meetings where we share good practice and updates.
Later, I caught up with the projects that I had been supporting. I worked on two enquiries that were out to a search with universities and due to close the following week. This involved sending reminders to my contacts at universities to submit their expressions of interest by the deadline. One of my other projects closed the day before, so I reviewed all the expressions of interest and created a report for the client, which they responded to very quickly requesting meetings with researchers from two of the universities, so I was able to set up those introductions really fast. I also followed up on some initial enquiries sending out meeting requests for the following week. Then, I did my least favourite but essential job of the week – updating our CRM system. We have a very robust system and it’s crucial to enter all of our interactions and updates with clients and intermediaries for reporting purposes. Once I was on a roll, I updated all events attended in the last month, outcomes, new clients and made sure copies of all correspondence were in the CRM system, safely stored on the Cloud!
It’s a quick week which I prefer, and I don’t work on Fridays – that’s when I go out for a walk, take in the wonderful Perthshire views, and breathe in some fresh air!
If you’re interested to learn more about what we do or how I can help please do contact me, I’d love to have a chat!
Lorna can be contacted at Lorna.Watson@interface-online.org.uk
More information about the Interface team can be found here