Collaborating with Scotland’s Higher Education Institutions has helped to secure more than 60 jobs across the Highlands & Islands over the last three years, and that number is expected to increase to more than 100 by 2017.

A new report looking at the impact of Interface in the Highlands & Islands found that nearly a third (31%) of businesses that had undertaken an Interface-facilitated project said that between 2011-2014 63 jobs were created or secured as a direct result of working with the organisation; and by 2017 a further 54 positions will also be safeguarded.

Since Interface was established nine years ago, more than 120 collaborative projects have been completed with companies based in the Highlands & Islands, which are reported to have contributed £2.2m to the local economy.

In addition to the safeguarding of jobs, the report which was compiled by BiGGAR Economics, found that almost two-thirds (61%) of business owners questioned for the report believe they will be increasing their number of employees over the next three years.

“Businesses should be aware of the positive effects that working in collaboration with Interface and Scotland’s universities can bring them, said Dr Siobhán Jordan, director at Interface.

“Of the companies based in the Highlands & Islands that we have helped to establish projects with the universities, 86 per cent said the collaboration has had a positive impact on their business; more than a quarter (28%) have developed new products to bring to market; and the same amount feel that their exporting potential has increased.

“The loss of jobs, regardless of location is always devastating, but in some areas across the Highlands & Islands it can have a notable effect on communities, so to be able to say that more than 60 positions have already been safeguarded as a direct result of undertaking collaboration projects is significant,” she said.

More than four in ten businesses (44%) expect their profits will increase as a direct result of linking in with Interface.

Fergus Ewing, Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism added:

“I’m very encouraged by the findings of this study.  Since 2005 Dr Jordan and the Interface team have been facilitating collaborative projects between Scottish businesses and experts within our academic communities.

“This study provides proof positive of the economic benefits realised by businesses in the Highlands and Islands that have used Interface as a conduit into our HEIs, with almost three-quarters (72%) of businesses saying that their projects would not have gone forward had it not been for the Interface service.”

Charlotte Wright, director of Business and Sector Development at Highlands & Islands Enterprise concluded:

“Interface has delivered tangible commercial benefits for the businesses it has assisted and these benefits have been translated into substantial quantifiable economic benefits for the Highlands & Islands economy amounting to more than £2m GVA a year and over 60 jobs since 2011.

“The fact that these companies have gone through the brokerage process with Interface and are now realising the benefits that working with the organisation in tandem with Scotland’s universities is testament to the service it offers.

“We must encourage more businesses to consider collaborating with universities and research institutions, and help them realise what assistance they can access, from funding and academic expertise, to the use of facilities or student placements.”

Other findings include:

Impact

Total generated for Scottish economy

Total retained in Highlands & Islands

Direct GVA

£1.8m

£1.8m

Indirect GVA

£1m

£0.3m

Direct Jobs

63

63

Indirect Jobs

39

13

Total GVA

£2.8m

£2.2m

Total Jobs

101

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