A £500,000 College Innovation Fund, set up by the Scottish Government to support innovation in Scotland’s economy, was launched today by Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy at West College Scotland.

Managed by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the College Innovation Fund will establish new and dynamic links between colleges and Scotland’s increasingly prolific innovation centres.

SFC has already established FUTUREquipped, a pilot project involving colleges and half of Scotland’s eight current innovation centres. The pilot will see innovation centres and colleges working collaboratively to demonstrate a new approach to skills training for the future needs of industry – led by industry itself. The money is also being invested in a pioneering College Innovation Accelerator Fund and in further support for the College Innovation Voucher Scheme.

Speaking at today’s launch, Innovation Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said:

“Scotland’s economic success has been forged on innovation – it is intrinsic to our culture and we want to extend this to all aspects of our society and economy, with a strong ambition to broaden innovation activity within our SME community.

“I am delighted to launch the £500,000 College Innovation Fund, which arises from cross-portfolio work between economy and education Ministers within our CAN DO Business Innovation Forum, and which will support future job creation and skills needs, by increasing innovation and engagement between colleges and businesses, recognising the strong links colleges have with local businesses.

“The fund will establish dynamic links between our colleges and our innovation centres helping us drive increased productivity, competitiveness and growth, playing a vital role in creating the jobs of the future.”

Mike Cantlay, Chair of the Scottish Funding Council, said:

“Colleges across Scotland already play an incredibly important role in helping businesses to be innovative. This funding takes things to a new level, especially in helping to exploit the very exciting opportunities being created through the innovation centre programme.”

Audrey Cumberford, Principal of West College Scotland and Chair of the College Innovation Working Group, said:

“Colleges already collaborate with businesses, especially SMEs. We want to be the natural choice for businesses looking for support and expertise to improve their performance through product or workforce innovation.

“The College Innovation Fund will help us explore further opportunities for colleges to deepen the relationship with Innovation Centres and industry. And the Innovation Fund will raise the profile of our work, putting colleges at the heart of the innovation landscape and show how we can do more.

“The national FUTUREquipped pilot will support colleges to work with industry and demonstrate just how well placed we are to add the value, ideas and skills needed to deliver products and services in the digital era.”

Also present at today’s event were staff and students participating in the FUTUREquipped pilot project and representatives of businesses involved in college innovation.

For further information, please contact, Stephen Crowe scrowe@sfc.ac.uk Tel: 0131 313 6612

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(Pictured, left to right): Adam Forrest, James Frew apprentice; Roddy Frew, Managing Director of James Frew;  Kyle Lafferty, James Frew apprentice; Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy; Paul Lynn, Curriculum and Quality Leader, West College Scotland; and Audrey Cumberford, Principal West College Scotland.