Interface create profitable partnerships for HEIs

Figures released today (19/01/14) by Interface – the knowledge connection for business – show that between August 2005 and July 2013, it helped 583 businesses1 to further develop their products or services by establishing collaborative projects with experts from Scotland’s Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).  These collaborations currently contribute more than £17m to Scotland’s economy each year, and that over the next five years could help to create a further 2,400 Scottish jobs.

The top Scottish Universities for collaborating with business via Interface are:

University

No. of Interface-facilitated collaborative

Knowledge Exchange partnerships2

Strathclyde

99

Edinburgh

98

Heriot-Watt

93

Glasgow Caledonian

81

University of West Scotland

81

Napier

78

Glasgow

57

Abertay

56

Aberdeen

33

Robert Gordon

32

Dundee

32

Throughout the period, Interface had 2,384 enquiries from businesses seeking help, and has linked more than 1,600 companies with HEI’s.  These projects have resulted in more than £14.1m being generated for Scotland’s HEIs.

“Over the past nine years, Interface has worked with all 24 Scottish HEIs and Research Institutes – matching them to businesses that want help, and facilitated those businesses to undertake specific R&D projects,” said Dr Siobhán Jordan, Director at Interface.

“We’ve had a tremendous amount of enquiries from businesses, but it’s astounding that so many are still unaware of the funding opportunities that could be available for them to undertake specific research.

“And it’s not just about what businesses get from collaborating with HEIs.  The impacts to the universities include enhanced teaching, employability for graduates and new ideas for strategic research,” she said.

The cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen have processed the largest number of business enquiries to Interface.

“These figures show what has happened over the past nine years, but right now we have more than 250 companies in discussion with Scottish universities about collaborative projects.  And in 2012/13 alone, we had 425 enquiries from businesses – almost a third of which have already led to a project,” continued Dr Jordan.

“Scotland is renowned for its innovation, and our HEIs are teeming with experts who are willing, and able, to work with business and help solve problems or come up with solutions to drive business growth.

“Interface is a globally unique organisation in its impartial service to match academia and businesses, and Scotland’s business community has reaped the benefits of being able to tap into experts who can help them to explore opportunities, improve their products and services, or overcome a business risk,” she said.

Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland said:

“These figures capture a sense of the real culture change that has taken place in our universities over the last ten years or so. Universities are focussed on getting their knowledge and expertise out into businesses and other organisations where it can have a real impact and they now have the structures in place to be able to work with business very effectively.

“Interface has been a hugely important addition to Scotland’s knowledge economy and these figures are testament to that. Impressive though they are, these figures represent only one element of university and business collaboration which just goes to show the significant value universities add to the business base and to Scotland’s economy.”

A report into the economic impact of Interface found that over the next five years, the organisation could realise a year on year growth of 47%, which would mean that by 2019 Interface projects could contribute around £80m to the Scottish economy.

ENDS


NOTES TO EDITORS

About Interface – The knowledge connection for business

Interface is a central hub connecting businesses from a wide variety of national and international industries to Scotland’s 24 higher education and research institutes.  It is a unique service designed to address the growing demand from organisations wanting to engage with academia.

Funded by the Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and European Regional Development Fund, Interface is a free and impartial service which aims to stimulate demand for innovation and encourage companies to consider academic support to help solve their business challenges.

Interface helps companies operating across a range of sectors, from food and drink to financial services, offering huge benefits for both businesses and academia.

Innovation Vouchers
Interface administers a range of funding opportunities through the Scottish Funding Council’s (SFC) Innovation Voucher and follow-on scheme. Since the launch of the Innovation Voucher Scheme in 2009 Interface has administered over 600 vouchers to the sum of around £3m directly helping hundreds of businesses to develop products, services and solutions increasing their sales, productivity and export potential.

Interface Enquiries – since 20091
66% of enquiries are from Scottish SMEs

Knowledge Exchange2
These figures relate to the number of Knowledge Exchange partnerships facilitated by Interface. Other Knowledge Exchange partnerships between universities and businesses take place which are not recorded by Interface.