Businesses are being urged to grasp the opportunities brought by R&D in partnership with academics to help them innovate, adapt and overcome the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr Siobhán Jordan, Director of Interface, said:
“Through our annual results we have demonstrated a real buoyancy and desire by companies across Scotland to transform rapidly through innovation.
“In fact, 53% of companies recently surveyed* thought that creating innovative solutions to problems should be the top priority of businesses in future.
“It is well documented that companies that innovate are more resilient in a crisis, more likely to expand into new markets during disruptions and more likely to be able to retain staff and grow in difficult trading conditions.**
“The pandemic required urgent ideas, solutions and immediate interventions. Interface, working in partnership with universities and colleges, has delivered outstanding results. We had our highest level of collaborations in this past academic year, up to July, with 329 projects delivered, creating and safeguarding 77 jobs. Delivering a 22% year on year increase in partnerships and investments in innovation clearly demonstrates that the entrepreneurial spirit in Scotland is thriving even during a time of crisis.”
The past six months have also shown the desire by academics of all disciplines to support company-led challenges that deliver new and or improved products, processes and services in short time scales.
The key to success and in enabling positive impacts on Scotland’s economy and communities is the speed in which business-academic collaborations have been set up, as well as Interface’s ability to target funding from a variety of UK bodies to support small and medium sized businesses’ partnerships with academics.
Interface supports business by unlocking knowledge, expertise, talent and facilities in universities and colleges. The outcomes from the free service are in line with the key recommendations in the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery report led by Benny Higgins and the Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review by Mark Logan to support and nurture businesses from start-up to maturity. Its pan-Scotland approach means that it delivers economic, environmental, and societal benefits in every region.
Dr Jordan added:
“Partnerships with universities and colleges are vital to scale businesses with the consequent benefits of job creation and enhanced profits. We all have a part to play in supporting the business community to rapidly realise innovative ideas, champion new business models, protect and create jobs to future-proof our economy.”
* A survey of more than 1,230 people was commissioned by Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS), the arm of Scotland’s enterprise agencies that supports company growth through employee ownership and co-operative business.
**Research from McKinsey & Company suggests that companies that innovate are more resilient in a crisis, more likely to expand into new markets during disruptions and more likely to be able to hold on to staff and grow in difficult trading conditions.