Dame Ann Dowling

The team at Interface welcomes Dame Ann Dowling’s review of business-university research collaboration and her subsequent discussion at the Science and Technology Committee on Tuesday 7th July 2015.

The report highlights that the complexity of the existing support mechanisms creates frustration and confusion and means the UK is not reaping the full potential of its opportunity to connect businesses - both domestic and international - with the excellent research being done in UK universities.

For more information download the full Dowling Review

The review recommends two approaches to streamlining the system, according to Dame Ann: reducing the overall number of schemes or simplifying the interface between the user and the scheme. She recommends that government does both.

The Interface programme is highlighted as an example of good practice on p37:

It is also important to note that businesses do not only require an online matching service, but an integrated package of support which can help them to identify potential partners and provide a guide through the maze of different agencies providing funding support. In addition, the outputs of such a service need to be accessible to non-specialist audiences. This type of functionality cannot be achieved solely through a database: it requires support from an appropriately skilled person. The value of such an approach is demonstrated by services such as the Interface system in Scotland.

Dr. Siobhán Jordan, Director of Interface in welcoming the report noted:

“Interface continues to play a key role in bringing universities and businesses together through our experienced staff based throughout Scotland. Through our long established track record of directly supporting over 2000 companies and establishing over 1100 collaborations we recognise that online systems to support SMEs make connections are not enough but also need people to help to navigate the complexity of identifying appropriate academic partners and funding.”

Below are some of the comments on Interface and Scotland's activities which were highlighted at the Science and Technology Committee discussion.