Get smart: how to grow your business

2nd August 2017

Borders businesses are tapping into support from some of the country’s brightest minds to help innovate and expand.

They have latched on to a smart solution which puts them in touch with talent at Scottish universities, research institutes and colleges, helping them innovate and drive forward their business. As a result, firms are witnessing growth, cutting costs and expanding in ways they may otherwise have struggled to achieve.

Scottish businesses from a range of industries and of all sizes have seized access to the support offered by Interface, a free and impartial service that acts as a go-between for businesses and Scotland’s 23 universities and research institutes.Interface then matches the right academic expert to meet individual organisation’s needs.Since its launch in 2005, Interface has introduced over 2600 businesses from across Scotland to academic partners. Almost a quarter of businesses had less than ten employees.

Ian Walker, owner/director of tourism business Borders Journeys approached Interface with his idea to introduce a new ancestry research line and was connected with specialists at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh to analyse the market potential of his idea.

It’s already been effective:

“Since the project completed, I have seen a significant increase in clients contacting me regarding ancestral research and tours,” says Ian.​

Shelley Breckenridge, Interface Business Engagement Manager covering the Borders, says: “We work with businesses and organisations large and small in all sectors, finding them an academic match who can help them create new products, services and processes. “Borders businesses can benefit in many ways by collaborating with academic expertise, for example increasing turnover, saving time and resource through improving processes, safeguarding and creating jobs and successfully entering new markets as a result of improved or new products.”

Ninety seven per cent of businesses said that their project would either not have happened or taken longer without support from Interface, while 83 per cent reduced operating costs, increased productivity, profits, export, turnover and new or safeguarded employment.

As well as forging academic links, business can also access specialist facilities, such as 3D printers, microscopy, human performance labs, wave tanks, virtual reality and textile printing.

By Sandra Dick, Southern Reporter