The UK’s biggest festival for a zero-carbon built environment will play host to transformative discussion and knowledge exchange on how we can break through barriers to accelerate our journey to zero carbon.

As we reach COP28 let’s accelerate the progress made in the last year and do what needs to be done to keep the momentum going.

BE-ST Fest 2023 is a three-month festival showcasing best practice, new solutions, hands-on training, and emerging opportunities for a zero-carbon built environment. The month will build up to the summit at our innovation campus on Wednesday 1st November. The conference will bring together different players across the sector who are focussed on the future of decarbonising our built environment.

This event is for anyone working in the built environment looking to accelerate their journey to zero carbon. It aims to not only inspire action but engage in the real challenges and real solutions.

The BE-ST Fest Summit is a rich programme featuring a morning conference and expo, with a chance to dive deeper into specific topics through a mix of workshops, hackathons, seminars, and other events in the afternoon.

Morning conference with thought-provoking keynote speakers Networking with 500 attendees
50+ exhibitors & demos of low carbon solutions
14 afternoon seminars & workshops
Innovation factory tours

Hosted by Sara Edmonds, Co-Director National Retrofit Hub and Head of Citizen Engagement at BE-ST.

08:30 Coffee & Networking

09:30-12:30 Conference

12:30-14:00 Lunch, networking & expo

14:00-16:30 Workshops, seminars, demos, tours and expo

Interface Facilitates Construction Support

The construction industry is vital to Scotland’s economy and communities. It impacts environment; private and public building, transport links – the places in which we live and work. Interface understand the value of new projects within the construction sector and are able to offer partnerships with Scottish higher education institutes to help develop these ventures.

If you are a business or organisation looking for construction support or to develop innovative ideas, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are able to provide partnerships with academia which could be a starting point for you to re-evaluate, streamline and improve your product, process or service.

Ways we can help your project

Recent projects have seen companies looking to academia for expertise, technologies and facilities including:


Specialist Facilities for Construction Support

Turning your concept into reality, no matter your sector or what material you have designed your product for, is possible through the vast range of specialist facilities and supporting technical resource. Explore some options which may help those in the construction industry:


Interface Free and Impartial Services

For further information and to find out how Interface can help with your product, service or idea simply contact us. A member of our Business Engagement team would be delighted to help.


Hypervine Ltd is a Glasgow-based company that focuses on digitising infrastructure to enable construction, engineering and facilities management companies to improve transparency, compliance, consistency, health & safety, recording and reporting; leading to direct and indirect cost savings while improving compliance and quality.

The company is developing a powerful, custom-built single comprehensive, secure and unalterable blockchain platform for the construction, engineering and maintenance sectors with smart contract functionality and analytical tools for more accurate asset and infrastructure management.


Following a series of industry scandals that highlighted the need for strong audit trails for building work undertaken, Hypervine was looking for an academic partner to  investigate the use of distributed ledger technologies to trace the completion of work in the construction sector and manage compliance events.


Ruth Oliver, Business Engagement Executive at Interface, successfully matched Paul Duddy, CEO and founder of Hypervine, with Professor Bill Buchanan and Liam Bell at Edinburgh Napier University’s School of Computing. The Blockpass Identity Lab at the University’s Merchiston campus uses cutting-edge blockchain research to drive innovation.

Ruth said: “Hypervine Ltd and Edinburgh Napier University’s (ENU) School of Computing were a natural fit:  Professor Bill Buchanan is one of the world’s leading lights in blockchain technology and, with researcher Liam Bell, offers a wealth of experience in supporting businesses and organisations in the practical application of this technology. 

Hypervine is helping construction companies build faster, safer, and more cost efficiently by digitising the industry. Exploring how to incorporate secure methods of recording data in complicated supply chains and transactions is a key element of this. Partnerships with academia can propel companies onto the next stage of their development, enabling them to enter new markets, win additional contracts, and grow their business.”

Professor Buchanan, Director of the Blockpass Identity Lab, said: “The nature of the construction industry is that there are many stakeholders involved and, making sure that each part of the process is working as it should, can be difficult. A blockchain solution will aim to integrate digital signing into the key parts of the process.”

Liam Bell, who was the lead blockchain researcher in the lab, said: “The application of blockchain into the construction industry – where strong levels of trust in the process are required – is a natural one.”

The collaboration was supported by the Scottish Funding Council’s Innovation Voucher scheme, which Interface administers.


Company – As a result of this collaboration, and the ensuing product, Hypervine has experienced improvements in the supply chain, new and improved products, increased productivity, and job creation, as well as the safe-guarding of existing jobs.

Industry – This collaboration has resulted in an innovative product research that has significant potential to disrupt the construction sector and improve safety records both in the UK and internationally, where there have been a number of disasters caused by improper construction .  Avoidable errors are costing the UK construction industry £21bn per year.  Through blockchain and smart contract integration, the industry can save time and money making the it more efficient while freeing up finance.

Follow-On Activity

In February 2020, Hypervine announced its latest contract, working with the European Space Agency to develop services for the global mining community.

Mining companies have to constantly adapt to ever-changing economic, environmental and governmental policies making easily accessible, high quality and up-to-date data vital. Obtaining the right information with the highest degree of accountability often takes months. Numerous surveys have to be cross-checked and compared on paper alongside satellite-sourced data, by multiple teams in different locations. Through the implementation of Hypervine’s technology, data for mining teams and their subsidiaries is clearly recorded on an unalterable ledger, removing the risk of small changes being magnified down a chain, resulting in potentially catastrophic yet avoidable dangers and miscalculations. 

It was announced (9th November 2020) that Hypervine is to be one of the five new cutting-edge tech firms that will join HS2 Ltd’s Innovation Accelerator programme. HS2 Ltd is the company delivering Britain’s new high speed rail network.  Hypervine will receive commercial and technical support, plus rent-free working space, as they develop their technology to help deliver Europe’s largest infrastructure project.  

Hypervine founder & CEO Paul Duddy said: “Being accepted on to the HS2 Accelerator programme is a significant milestone for Hypervine and as one of Europe’s largest infrastructure projects is a perfect fit for Hypervine technology.

*A blockchain is a growing list of records or blocks, secured using cryptography and resistant to modification; technology which can reduce the risk of problems like documents being lost or actions not followed up.


Macdeck Landscaping is a decking company that has gradually moved into landscaping due to demand from customers for the additional finishing to complete their gardens. They specialise in decking, timber structures, landscaping and garden redesign with an innovative look to each project.


The company conceptualised an idea and carried out some basic prototyping of their unique innovative product, a Landscaping Decking Construction System, created with the use of composite materials*. Composite materials can give the required drainage capacity and lack of corrosion in combination, in principle, with the right structural strength for the system.

It was Macdeck’s intention as a business to progress to the creation of a universal branded/trademarked Construction System product. The product would offer the ability to create natural landscapes on raised structures, particularly in flooded areas, and create a wider scope of vision for architects and town and country planners at a more economical cost.

Before this project could develop, a greater fundamental understanding of composite components’ performance in the product was required. At the time, it was not understood either how composite materials would perform in the proposed Construction System under different load situations, what their limitations would be, or what system parameters would be optimal to present a viable and safe product for mass market.


Looking for an academic partner to collaborate on this project, Macdeck contacted Interface who matched them up with the department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) and the Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) at the University of Strathclyde, via Strathclyde Links.

The use of these composite materials in a construction context is relatively new, and entirely novel in ‘suspended’ landscaping. A combination of expertise of composite material properties, experimental testing of composites, and structural modelling of composite structures is a unique blend that the two departments at the University – MAE and AFRC – could offer the company.  MAE was also able to offer the company a materials’ testing system as part of their specialist facilities.

The partners collaborated on the project to develop the new product by exploring the properties of the composite components, conducting a series of experimental tests, modelling of challenging performance scenarios, exploring the limitations of the system in terms of static failure modes, proposing solutions to the design issues, linking computer modelling and experimental data and using all knowledge thus generated to contribute to a coherent product technology portfolio.

The project outcomes helped validate the product under brand, as well as helping the company progress with its IP protection and certification, critical to its commercial success.

The approach used was unique and innovative as the two centres of academic expertise were able to bring value to the project that was more than just the sum of the two. The ultimate outcome of the project was a product with the specifications and performance characteristics founded on a sound fundamental scientific basis.

This collaborative project was funded by a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher, administered by Interface.



The company will build on the results of the project; the experimental data, the model outputs and the recommendations, to create a better, safer, more marketable product based on scientific evidence. The expertise and the credibility of the research from the University of Strathclyde will provide them with evidence for future product approvals and marketing, increasing sales and generating revenues for the business.


This project provided an excellent opportunity for the University of Strathclyde to engage with an innovative local Scottish company with a technical requirement matching both the expertise of the Advanced Composite Centre (in MAE) and the AFRC. The project aligned very well with the AFRC’s and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult’s (HVMC) strategic theme of Lightweighting: the technology agenda of creation of very strong but light parts and structures. The AFRC are currently building a portfolio of capability in this area, which includes developing joint capability in composite materials with the MAE. The University’s work will be acknowledged in all literature related to the System.

Economic, Environmental and Societal Impacts

The proposed product is an excellent example of innovation, enterprise and creativity in Scotland. The product, a new innovative Landscaping System, has definite export potential with sales worldwide.

Macdeck Landscaping, going further, plan to create a new company offering new employment in Glasgow in supply, sales and distribution to support delivery of this product to markets in the UK and abroad.

The product has the potential to change how customers, architects, planners and governments deal with flooded land and their ability to build on flooded land, enabling landscape design on a raised surface, lifting wet and continuously flooded areas clear of ground.

An initial positive for the environment is that, in normal circumstances, a raised patio would require concrete foundations, type 1 infill, concrete block, cement, brickwork.  All this can now be removed and replaced by a re-useable, more environmentally-friendly platform.

*  A composite material is a material made from two or more constituent materials with significantly different physical or chemical properties that, when combined, produce a material with characteristics different from the individual components. The individual components remain separate and distinct within the finished structure, differentiating composites from mixtures and solid solutions.


Norscot is a family owned business which was established in 1984 by chartered surveyor Peter Body and his wife Teda.

The company is headquartered in Bower, Caithness where its factory is equipped with sophisticated computer-controlled machinery which, together with the skilled workforce, produces the widest range of building components and related products available from a single source anywhere in Scotland.

Norscot’s product portfolio includes standard and bespoke timber frame kit homes in a variety of styles and made-to-measure windows, doors, patio doors and conservatories in uPVC, timber, and aluminium clad timber.


In the self-build market, clients expect the best service and want to know every detail of their project prior to construction. Traditional paper plans and current 3D CAD (computer-aided design) models are difficult for most people to visualise as finished homes, and do not offer the client the opportunity to walk through the home to ensure it meets their needs.

Due to these visualisation issues, Norscot are often asked if they have a show house. This, however, would clearly be impractical, and of little real value, as the company offers a bespoke design service. At the same time, the existing Virtual Reality based solutions in the market are either not fully integrated with major Building Information Modelling (BIM) design packages or need very sophisticated interfaces from the end users. This makes it impractical for mainstream clients, especially those in remote locations, to fully utilise and appreciate the models generated by these packages, without having specific expertise and hardware.


Interface was able to introduce the company to the University of Strathclyde, who has a unique track-record of expertise and knowledge of the integration of BIM and gaming software, to create a specialised user experience that would incorporate the needs of BIM, the end user, and the company. 

Building design decisions typically involve several conflicting criteria in terms of decision making that need to be considered. The new product to be developed as a result of this collaboration was software which would bridge between existing BIM software and a newly created phone app into which the house design could be input to create a Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality (VR/AR) rendition of the finished home. The potential of such interfaces is highlighted when communication is needed between an occupationally trained expert (e.g. an architect) who uses a very complicated means of communication (such as conventional drawings) and a client who has no knowledge about their conventions.

A house rendition, once uploaded to the phone app, would then enable clients to ‘virtually experience’ their new home and also provide input/feedback at the design stage rather than down the line when it is more time consuming and costly to make changes.

The University’s role was paramount to this project in providing unbiased advice, helping the company identify particular needs and develop their strategic plan in relation to development of the final product.

This project was funded by a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher.


The idea of having a VR game-like fully customisable showroom which is integrated with BIM, and is available through an affordable smartphone, is something unique and makes it distinctive from any commercial product currently available in the market.

It is anticipated the project will ultimately result in a product/service which will assist the company to expand its market throughout the UK, resulting in increased sales and employment. This effect will be magnified through commercialisation of the product/service to other house builders, architects and so on.

Follow-On Activity

Norscot obtained funding from CSIC (Construction Scotland Innovation Centre) to enable them to continue with the development of the software to proof of concept stage.

A KTP from Innovate UK has been approved for Norscot to implement the software development. This will be a three-year project that imbeds the technology into the company and ensures it is market ready.  The KTP will also help to strengthen the relationship between Norscot and the University of Strathclyde.

“We were very satisfied with the way this project was managed and its outcome. Having never worked with academia before, we weren’t sure what to expect. There was a clear synergy between our objectives and the University’s capabilities and this project has given us the confidence to move forward with the development of the product / service under consideration. As a consequence of this project there is a clear focus and ambition on behalf of both the academic partner and ourselves to create something which we see as having significant value to the self-build housing market.” Peter Body, Chairman, Norscot Joinery Ltd

“This project provided a great opportunity for the Architecture Department to work with this company, and acknowledge the support of the Scottish Funding Council in making this possible. The company’s vision and insight was incredible and we had a great collaboration in formulating their needs based on our prior knowledge and the further research that we conducted. This project opened new avenues for us to collaborate on further projects, and applications for a CSIC-funded nine-month project and a KTP application have already been approved to further develop the collaboration.” Dr Farzad Pour Rahimian Leilabadi, University of Strathclyde

Please note that Interface administers the Innovation Voucher Scheme on behalf of the Scottish Funding Council. All funding applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the Scottish Funding Council. Guidelines can be found here.

Tsarina Imperial Dacha, launched in 2007, is the only company in the UK that designs and manufactures real log cabins and homes from solid round logs.

Managing Director Michael Dutton uses sustainable grown Scottish timber and traditional techniques learned when he lived and worked in the Arctic Circle as a soldier and also in Russia where he lived for several years after leaving the Army.

Although the core business is the design and manufacture of log cabins and log homes, the company has expanded its range of products and uses different parts of the timber to create everything from garden furniture, children’s play equipment and hot tubs to decking boards, telegraph poles, bridges, fencing and even solid wood sailing masts.


To complement and protect their existing timber products Tsarina developed a range of natural preservatives from natural oils which they engineered to protect the wood, highlight the products’ natural aesthetics and also act as a fire retardant.

Before they could market and sell these new preservatives, however, they needed to demonstrate their efficiency and performance.

Unfortunately Tsarina lacked the necessary in-house expertise and needed access to industry standard equipment and techniques to test the new wood preservative.


Tsarina approached Mari Findlay Rural Project Executive at Interface to find out if academia could provide a solution.

Mari worked with Michael to understand the project objectives, translating the initial brief to make it relevant and appealing to an academic audience.

Mari Findlay explains, “With established connections in each of Scotland’s Universities and Research Institutions Interface are able to identify the most applicable expertise, the most relevant facilities and, in doing so, find the most suitable solutions for any number of business challenges.”

“Our service is free and impartial and can save businesses a huge amount of time and money when searching for academic support. We work with hundreds of businesses each year supporting them through their project and helping them to achieve their project aims and objectives.”

Tsarina received a number of responses from their initial search but decided that Dr John Liggat at the University of Strathclyde was able to provide the most suitable solution.

Dr Liggat is a leader in the field of polymer durability and fire response with a proven track of responding to industrial challenges in the chemical manufacturing arena and his experience and expertise proved an ideal fit for Tsarina.

Having met with Tsarina and exploring the project in more detail Dr Liggat performed a scientifically controlled study where Tsarina wood samples, alongside samples from two international market leaders, were subjected to an accelerated aging process which mimicked solar irradiation and water inundation within a controlled laboratory setting. Where Tsarina’s sample passed the tests, the comparative samples failed and although Dr Liggat is still in the process of compiling a full report of his findings it is already evident that Tsarina’s wood preservatives have far exceeded all expectations.


Dr Liggat and Tsarina are already planning the fire testing stage of the project and if successful it will mean that Tsarina will have developed the world’s first single wood preservative and fire retardant made completely from natural ingredients and oils.

Michael Dutton, Managing Director at Tsarina said “Interface opened the doors to academia giving us at Tsarina a unique opportunity to test our products with industry experts. This has not only allowed us to legitimise the unique properties of our preservatives but it has also proved to be extremely time and cost effective – ideal for a small business like ours.”

“Our company has already received huge benefits from this partnership and there are plenty of other opportunities; we’re already planning the fire testing stage with Dr Liggat but the University have also suggested that we start a student project with the Marketing School allowing students to assist in getting the product to market.”

Tsarina are now actively seeking manufacturers who would be interested in licensing these preservatives, and Michael believes that the revenues from this could be used to grow the company further, increasing staff levels and production capabilities.

For more information on Tsarina Imperial Dacha, to see their products or to contact Michael please visit

The company has a strong environmental and sustainability policy and ensures that every part of the tree is used, resulting in zero waste.  Even the grindings from the trees goes as cattle bedding which is then recycled back into the land as fertiliser.

It has been Michael’s aim to create local employment opportunities for others within his business as it grows, and to also train others in the art and skills of Log Building, a very unique and skilled profession which is known as a Log Smith.

Working through Interface and with the University of Strathclyde is helping this to happen much faster than would have otherwise been possible.

Albyn Housing Society Limited began in 1973 by building homes for the incoming workers at the Invergordon smelter. Started with only a handful of staff, the Society now has 63 employees and two offices in Invergordon and Inverness and currently manages over 2,750 properties either through affordable rent or low cost home ownership schemes.


Albyn Housing Society wanted to investigate the feasibility of offering Assisted Living Services to their vulnerable residents through the use of Assisted Living Technologies as part of their suite of services.

Assisted Living Technologies (ALT) are defined as those sensors, devices and communication systems that together allow the delivery of Assisted Living Services (ALS) including telehealth, telecare, wellness, digital participation and teleworking services.

Interest in telecare is growing due to concern over caring for increasing numbers of older people and the challenges of service delivery in remote and rural areas. Telecare is viewed increasingly as a means of creating efficiencies and cost savings for service providers, prolonging independence and improving quality of life for service users and supporting carers.

The Business Challenge

Interface – The knowledge connection for business facilitated a meeting between Albyn Housing Society and the Centre for Rural Health at the University of the Highlands & Islands to discuss the idea of providing Assisted Living Technologies to their vulnerable customers as part of the suite of services that they currently provide. Albyn Housing wanted to explore what the new service delivery model might look like, how it could benefit the business/customer and how it could be implemented and evaluated. They were also interested in opening up possibilities for training and job opportunities for young people in rural areas.

Having examined the conclusions and recommendations of the initial feasibility study into telecare delivery, Albyn Housing Society are looking to develop a longer term collaborative relationship that will allow them to proceed with planning and establishing a telecare service to vulnerable customers.

“Our involvement with Interface has been hugely beneficial for Albyn Housing Society Ltd as their introduction has been fundamental in developing our relationship with the Centre for Rural Health and has led to further joint work with UHI. We have already generated interest from the social housing sector in the work we have done so far…” Calum Macaulay, Cheif Executive, Albyn Housing Society