College innovation links reindeer tracking and 3D printed textiles

23rd October 2018

Within the last year, Innovation Vouchers valued at more than £24,000 were awarded to fund five individual collaborative projects between Scottish businesses and colleges who have been working hand in hand to develop something new, innovative and often ground-breaking. 

These projects included:

  • developing, constructing and testing a prototype of a programmable drone that will be used to navigate Scottish waterways whilst producing accurate, real-time reports on pollution levels and water condition,
  • producing a prototype using different printing filaments which would allow the 3D printing of unique lace designs in a single piece that can be used as a textile,
  • using cutting-edge tracking technology to enhance reindeer management.

Douglas Morrison, STEM and Innovation Lead at City of Glasgow College, said:

“The scheme rightly recognises the vital role that colleges play in supporting local businesses to develop their workforce and introduce new products and services.”

Innovation Vouchers have helped to fund three industry-led collaborative projects with City of Glasgow College.

The College is collaborating with Altitude Thinking to develop, construct and test a prototype of a programmable drone that will be used to navigate Scottish waterways whilst producing accurate, real-time reports on pollution levels and water conditions.

The £5,000 Innovation Voucher will allow the partners to look at engineering development for subsequent drones with enhanced capabilities to remove litter and other pollutants from waterways using suction pumps.

New College Lanarkshire and charity New Rhythms for Glasgow also received £5,000 through the scheme to develop an online service platform for disadvantaged and excluded people who wish to either use or contribute to the creative industries in the local deprived area.

The charity in North Glasgow provides music and arts workshops and opportunities for people living in areas of high deprivation who experience a range of barriers to accessing creative industries.

John McNair, Head of Regional Business Development at New College Lanarkshire, said:

“This is a great opportunity for the College and NRG to collaborate and co-create a targeted digital technology solution that supports the charity’s aim of providing a more sustainable and innovative service.”

Fashion designer Karen Hamilton was able to collaborate with the Learning Lab at Dundee and Angus College, which is a facility promoting the use of innovative technology through hands-on learning, after £5,000 was awarded to the collaboration. She was provided with guidance, expert knowledge and practical supervision of the use of equipment as she endeavoured to develop innovative lace fabric using 3D printing.

Brian Riley, Business Advisor, Dundee and Angus College, said:

“The project has provided an excellent opportunity to engage in applied research – something not normally associated with the college sector – using internal resources and academic staff with expertise in digital and related areas of work activity. It represents a fine example of commercial and academic partnership and will serve as a good model for future such collaborations”. 

A very different kind of collaboration between The Reindeer Company Ltd and Inverness College UHI is that of “The Secret Lives of the Cairngorm Reindeer”. This collaborative project, which has recently been granted a £5,000 Innovation Voucher, will use cutting-edge tracking technology to enhance reindeer management and to enhance the experience of people visiting the reindeer herd in the Cairngorms as well as the online experience. The collaboration is in its early stages, so it is a case of “watch this space”.

James Frew was awarded a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher to collaborate with West College Scotland (WCS) to develop a new innovative training planning process, including monitoring certification renewals, developing individual training plans and measuring the impact of training through AMI (Achievement Measurement Indexing).

Andrew Fogarty, Head of Energy and Engineering, West College Scotland, said: “The SFC Innovation Voucher has allowed James Frew and WCS to positively collaborate to implement business improvements and develop more meaningful relationships that are mutually beneficial. In doing so, our staff at the college have been able to use this knowledge to work with other organisations to help them improve and enhance the products and services that they offer.”

The impact of the project will lead to improved training interventions linked to individual training plans and business process improvements. It is envisaged that whilst improving the relevance of training interventions, significant cost savings and improved efficiency will be realised through a more planned and systematic approach to training.

By taking a more structured approach to developing people through training, the project will impact on the motivation of key staff and will increase employee satisfaction.

Dr Siobhán Jordan, Director of Interface, said:

“Funding through Innovation Vouchers can be beneficial for college lecturers and staff enabling them to work with businesses and organisations on real-life challenges as they research and develop products, services and processes.

“We can help colleges by giving assistance on how to access Innovation Vouchers and guide them through the process of applying for this important source of funding.”

The approval process normally takes only three weeks from the date of submission to the Funding Panel’s decision.

Information on Innovation Vouchers can be found here: