Bubble FLO® has created a fun, child friendly, visually engaging, and effective physiotherapy medical device the Bubble FLO® PEP (Positive Expiratory Pressure) Device for the treatment of chronic lung conditions.
Bubble FLO® was set up by Katie Vance to develop a child friendly, engaging and effective physiotherapy medical device- a Bubble Positive Expiratory Pressure (PEP) Device for the treatment of chronic lung conditions.
Positive-expiratory-pressure (PEP) therapy is a respiratory therapy that applies resistance to expiration, to produce positive airway pressure. Since the 1930s, PEP has been used to improve oxygenation, increase lung volume and reduce venous return in patients with congestive heart failure. PEP improves collateral ventilation, secretion clearance, aerosol distribution and functional residual capacity. (Respiratory Care:April 2009, Vol 54, No.4)
The idea of creating a Bubble PEP device evolved when Katie’s daughter was diagnosed with a lifelong respiratory condition and the equipment supplied to carry out vital twice daily physiotherapy was very basic and lacked visual engagement for children. Katie discovered there was no specific Paediatric equipment available, so she decided to develop a Bubble PEP Device which was fun, engaging and effective in clearing secretions from the lungs, and that was aesthetically pleasing, easily portable and easy to empty and re-fill.
The technology did not exist to meet these key practical needs and Katie recognised that such a product could be revolutionary in this critical field. The prototype that she developed was given very positive feedback from physiotherapists who worked with Katie’s daughter, and they expressed a need for a similar device for use by other patients and so Bubble FLO® was born.
To develop the concept Katie contacted Interface, who, after putting out a search to Scotland’s universities and research institutes, partnered her with Kath Sharp, NHS Team Lead in Paediatric physiotherapy at Glasgow Caledonian University, (who introduced the technique to the West of Scotland and acted as a consultant on the project), and Professor Terence Gourlay, from the University of Strathclyde’s Biomedical Engineering Department, who has extensive experience in the design, development and commercialisation of medical devices.
This collaborative project, funded by a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher, focused on the development of a novel respiratory improvement technology aimed at the paediatric sector, but based on known and well-established approaches. The novelty in the proposed approach is centred around making what can be a tiresome therapy for children, fun and engaging.
The experience the Department of Biomedical Engineering has in the production of laboratory, test-ready prototype devices was applied to the project to produce near clinically deliverable prototypes of the proposed technology which were then successfully tested under laboratory conditions.
Subsequently Bubble FLO® was awarded a By Design Grant from Scottish Enterprise, which allowed the prototype design and ergonomics to be developed further.
Through the support of South of Scotland Enterprise, Bubble FLO® worked with an engineer to develop manufacturing tools, create 40 prototypes and completed bio burden and chemical compatibility testing.
Regulatory work has been completed with the support of CPI and Innovate UK to ensure the product is suitable for use.
BubbleFLO are hoping to start clinical trials with the West of Scotland Innovation Hub at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow soon.
Interface have continued to assist Bubble FLO® brokering collaborations with the University of Strathclyde to create a brand and marketing strategy to target families of children with respiratory conditions and with Edinburgh Napier University to develop a “How to Set Up and Use” animated video with the aim of using animated characters to turn what can be a very daunting experience for a child into a fun and engaging one.
As the Bubble FLO® PEP Device will be more engaging for children than the current NHS equipment; children will be much more motivated to carry out effective physiotherapy sessions and, in turn, this has the potential to save the NHS budget considerably through a reduction in hospital admissions for respiratory treatment.
Whilst initially, sales of the Bubble FLO® PEP Device will be to parents online, it is hoped the NHS will purchase this new medical equipment as a long-term investment to reduce their overall budget after completion of an upcoming clinical trial with the West of Scotland Innovation Hub, Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow.
The development of the proposed technology will underpin the foundation of the commercial activity around this novel product. The company have benefitted from the University’s expertise in the development of prototypes, their laboratory evaluation and expertise in tooling design and production of the medical devices.
Subsequent collaborations have provided Bubble FLO® with a marketing and targeting strategy and produced a novel animated guide for children and parents to be able to use the device at home.
The academic partner has benefitted through this new research activity in the paediatric respiratory sector and in the use of this project as a case study for teaching purposes. In addition, the project fits very well with the Department’s objective of being supportive of the Scottish life science and med tech sectors.
This project was nominated for Innovator of the Year at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards and won a Wild Card at the Scottish EDGE.
Leanne Cairns Millinery designing and producing Occasion Wear Bio Hats, which are 3D printed, environmentally friendly, Low Carbon, Zero Waste and Industrially Bio-degradeable.
Leanne Cairns, a milliner, based in rural Ayrshire has been designing and creating hats, fascinators and wedding head dresses for her clients from her studio for several years. She is dedicated to creating bespoke luxury and elegant millinery for special occasions.
Leanne saw potential in the largely untapped Scottish market within the wedding and up market, occasion wear, events sector for individually crafted, bespoke hats that could be created in exactly the right colour for matching outfits, as well as being made from locally sourced environmentally circular materials that offered very individual, ethically sourced and quickly manufactured hats.
Leanne from an early age enjoyed sewing, making, drawing and painting. She originally studied an Interior Design BSC and then through various design related employment, Leanne developed a love of 3D design Auto CAD, spacial and technical design, ingenuity of structural design and pattern making.
Leanne has always been of the mindset of ‘Make Do and Mend’ having always been someone that never throws away anything if it can be re-used in a creative way. An avid recycler from childhood this was always the background driver in her traditional craft of millinery and so a mission to be more sustainable in the design and production was a natural progression.
Leanne Cairns Millinery’s clients were mainly in the 35+ age bracket however Leanne identified a potential market segment in the 18-35 age bracket that didn’t understand or know about the social and confidence building benefits of wearing hats. Market research of this potential target market was undertaken by students in Fashion Marketing at Glasgow Caledonian University supported by Interface. The research clarified that the 18- 35 age segment were very eco-conscious and wanted to make a difference to the planet by not buying fashion that would contribute to landfill accumulation.
The findings of this research lead onto a further collaboration with the team at Napier University to discover a circular, zero waste product that would lead onto a commitment to providing innovative new hat design and manufacturing utilising 3d printing with industrially bio-degradeable materials that are locally and ethically sourced, with a low carbon footprint.
Leanne was originally referred to Interface by West Coast Accelerator. Mari of Interface was able to identify Edinburgh Napier University as a partner and academic Dr Samantha Vettese who had the interest and experience required for Leanne’s project. A Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher was secured.
Leanne worked with Dr Samantha Vettese and Dr Xingyu Chloe Tao, on 3D product designing, 3D prototyping and general development of 3D recycled millinery which included:
- Computer Aided Design
- Design Modelling on 3D software
- Product Development
- Creative Input
- Manufacturing Prototype /design
Leanne very much believes in designing and producing products, which can be 3D printed, are environmentally friendly with recycling and re-using the wearable hats at the end of their life cycle. A take back scheme of the manufactured designs would be a differentiator and make a difference to the planet and the surrounding environment by re-using the product in the biodegration process to create energy and other products, thus prolonging a circular end of life.
Some of the main benefits of the collaboration are:
- Successful development of prototypes for market testing helping showcase the possibilities of 3D printing in occasion wear hats.
- The capability to produce environmentally friendly, recycled, wearable hat art to be sold via e-commerce, designed using STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and digital products to be sold to 3D printing enthusiasts with no wastage and low carbon footprint.
- Potential to push the boundaries of this traditional based industry in a more STEM and modern approach to climate change.
- Ability to make more sculptural and futuristic head pieces designed by Leanne Cairns Millinery and sell utilising online, e-commerce and bespoke commissions within the fashion houses or private clients.
- Ability to rapidly prototype and manufacture efficiently with digital adoption.
- Opening up new markets for Leanne Cairns Millinery in the online sector with branding via tourism, metaverse, blockchain and e-commerce.
- Leanne Cairns Millinery becoming a South Ayrshire Carbon Champion with the prototype and organisation carbon auditing achieved with low results and a commitment to Net Zero by 2050 via the SME Climate Hub
- Continuation of R&D via Student Innovation Voucher with a brilliant relationship now established with Napier University.
Unlocking Potential (U>P) – a powerful people analytics platform helping organisations of all sizes to optimise their workforce
Nectis Ltd focuses on optimising wellbeing, performance and productivity in the workplace through people analytics and understanding business ecosystems. Founder and CEO, Colin Campbell has a wealth of experience in this area, having spent more than 20 years building company ecosystems (the people related to your company).
Nectis Ltd successfully competed to deliver against CivTech 5, in 2021 with sponsor Transport Scotland. Their Challenge – How can tech help foster the development of informal networks when people are working at home or in Work Local hubs?
To assist in addressing the challenge and through the partnership between CivTech and Interface, Colin approached us to help facilitate collaboration with academia on three 3 different projects:
- Data Visualisation
- Business analysis of Serviceable Available Markets
- Security and Anonymised Data Cloud Analysis
The solution developed by Nectis Ltd is Unlocking Potential (U>P) Unlocking Potential – Optimising Business Agility & Performance, a SaaS people analytics platform that visualises patterns of collaboration and uses insight to create agility and wellbeing. This solution uses data driven insights of individuals and teams, to understand their patterns, overcome barriers and breakdown work silos. In addition, it provides an evidence base for fair working practices, supporting positive working relationships.
People analytics is a very powerful tool and up until now, the science behind it has been the reserve of researchers and programmers.
Unlocking Potential (U>P) is a software tool that works by creating a digital model of a company ecosystem (the people related to any organisation) and then analysing it to deliver unique and powerful insights that can help achieve high levels of business agility and performance.
To assist in addressing the challenge set by Transport Scotland Interface helped facilitate collaboration with academia on three 3 different projects:
- Data Visualisation
- Serviceable Available Market
- Security and Anonymised Data Cloud Analysis
The first related to Data Visualisation where a Data Science for Business MSc student at the University of Stirling undertook a project working with data that was already on the U>P platform and also tested data, to find ways to increase the rate at which data is added, through motivational feedback loops. This was achieved by identifying which forms of data design and delivery optimised insight creation for individual users to help them solve problems and/or take meaningful action.
Beyond the initial contract with Transport Scotland, Nectis wanted to understand market potential and their initial B2B target market i.e. organisations with remote/complex workforces. Masters marketing students at the University of Glasgow carried out research to establish the serviceable available market for their offering and establish what Nectis could legitimately claim they could deliver on and how to articulate it to these customers. Other student projects looked at innovation within Nectis’ pricing strategy and at finding ways to reward people for adding data that builds the aggregate picture, as well as, providing value for them individually.
The third project relating to Security and Anonymised Data Cloud Analysis was as a result of a successful Advanced Innovation Voucher application and involved the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University. This collaboration built on work already done by U>P with the aim of improving the levels of security in the application, focusing on the collection and processing of personal data, as well as, introducing advanced security measures to enable intelligent analysis of anonymised data.
A key aspect of the work involved the use Big Data analysis methods in understanding the complex relationships involved in projects, roles, business relationships, behaviours, and so on, to determine good practice in achieving strong outputs, and thus more clearly identify how best to both understand the metrics to be gathered, but also in how to best define KPI (Key Performance Indicators). Understanding that the collection of data around business relationships requires to be kept private, Nectis wanted to develop privacy enhancing methods, which could be used to assess successful engagement, but respect privacy and consent. The collaboration with the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University with their strong background in cryptography, and other privacy related areas, along with their experience in building production ready systems was crucial to the success of this project.
The academic rigour awarded by the collaborations with academia have been good for the Nectis U>P brand and have resulted in Nectis achieving the following:
- An SE SMART grant of £92K to continue the collaboration with Edinburgh Napier University as a result of the AIV scheme. Total investment £160K
- Accepted onto the UK Cyber Accelerator – one of only 3 Scottish companies to do so
- Proof of concept for Scotland IS Cyber
- Proof of concept for Scottish Government
- Plan to raise £500K investment in forthcoming year
- New patent application – Patent is for a distributed key system so individuals have a say in how their data is managed
Touchless Innovation, trading as Sanodaf, is a company that specialises in advanced disinfection and decontamination technology. Their aim is to create, design and manufacture innovative processes and products to help eradicate micro-organisms and infections that can cause health issues in everyday life for people and animals. They have experience of disinfection and decontamination as a service company and were looking at new devices to enhance current hygiene technology.
With expertise in environmental decontamination, Touchless Innovation developed a novel prototype of an easy-to-understand and cost-effective hand-hygiene device. It was based on the simple principle of using ultraviolet to kill micro-organisms that are commonly found on hands, specifically using UV-C which is proven technology for eradicating pathogens. The prototype was a hand sanitiser unit that prompted the user to place their hands inside an aperture that delivered a short transmission of UV-C directly onto hand surfaces. The unit was automated and, upon entry, a timed exposure to UV-C would be experienced by the skin. It was a touchless process and the unit would indicate when hands could be removed. The entire process was delivered quickly and without any noise or residue.
Specialist UV-C devices are used in laboratory settings but there was not an accessible device for everyday use. The creation of this device would allow people to efficiently sanitise hands without access to washing facilities and within a much-shortened time period.
The company did not have the required expertise to test the device and demonstrate the intended claim that it kills 99.9% of MRSA after a short exposure on the hands and that it was also safe for human exposure. The practical work to test the device required a respected Category 2 laboratory facility and testing by an independent body for credibility.
Interface connected Stuart White, Director of Touchless Innovation, with Edinburgh Napier University as it had the laboratories, expertise and bacterial strains required to carry out the microbiological aspects of the work. This collaborative project was funded by a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher.
The results of the project allowed the company to identify any potential areas for design improvements and confidently market the device as a high volume, commercial product. Given the robustness and limited cost, it was considered that the portable version of this device would have an immediate market, both domestically and internationally.
The success of this product would improve the ability to sanitise hands in everyday situations to fight infections and ill health and would create jobs in Scotland where the device would be manufactured. The product had wide market appeal and the company’s intention was to expand globally into other markets where hygiene is poor and access to clean water restricted.
The company also planned to have a version of the device to be used in disaster situations where there was no power or clean water and a high risk of illness and infection spread.
It has been a privilege to work with the team at Napier; they have shown a high level of interest in the project from day one and demonstrated a very professional level of competency in undertaking the project, and in publishing the final result. This now leaves my company able to grow and expand with this product and I hope to be able to work with the team at Napier again. The result of this collaboration will make a very positive impact as we can now press ahead with the creation of working prototypes and move closer to releasing this product onto the market place. We are aiming to sell it in the UK and overseas and this will be a significant step for us as an SME (small or medium-sized enterprise). Stuart White, Director, Touchless Innovation
It was an excellent experience working with Touchless Innovation. The partner was extremely enthusiastic about their product but also realistic with the aims of this project. I look forward to working with them again. Dr Nick Wheelhouse, School of Applied Sciences, Edinburgh Napier University
Touchless Innovation Ltd was shortlisted for the Innovation of the Year award at The Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2019.
Follow-On Activity – Advanced Innovation Voucher
Following on from their initial project with Edinburgh Napier University, Touchless Innovation were looking to collaborate with a university partner to verify that electrostatic spraying of hydrogen peroxide was a more efficient method of decontaminating hospital rooms than fogging, the current standard method used in the NHS. Interface was able to successfully connect them to the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) where the company had access to the University’s specialist category 11 containment facilities, including the facilities required to undertake testing of the fogging and electrostatic spray disinfection delivery systems. This project was funded by a Scottish Funding Council Advanced Innovation Voucher.
The results of the project confirmed the company’s expectations as well as highlighting some additional considerations for future treatments and applications. A full submission of the results was made to the NHS and Health Improvement Scotland.
Follow-On Activity – KTP
The current approach to disinfection/decontamination utilises two separate units: a fogging system and an electrostatic sprayer; the former being used to transform the disinfectant liquid into a dry fog for areas that can be effectively sealed off, and the latter which adds a negative electrostatic charge to the solution ensuring it surrounds and adheres to all surfaces it touches (for open-area use where traditional fogging would not be appropriate).
As the company had no engineering capability, they formed a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with UWS to develop a unique combined fogging and electrostatic spray disinfectant device for commercial use – two different technologies to run from one power source. This would underpin rapid business expansion and ensure the UK is at the forefront of market-led technology, addressing both societal and economic impacts of poor hygiene control within public and private buildings.
Business – Prior to the KTP, the business was dependent on external suppliers/market forces, limiting the control of their own direction. The KTP has enabled the business to become a manufacturer of their own device, allowing them to compete in a wider market and decide their own path.
They have benefitted greatly from being involved in the process of designing and creating a new concept for a device and then being able to carry this through to product build and test. The process has helped the business understand manufacturing and the issues around supply chain, in-house and external expertise and how these are linked in the creation of a new product.
Finally, the investment has enabled the business to acquire the global Sanondaf brand, operating across multiple territories and with ready-made customers for their new combined electrostatic/fogging unit.
Academic – The project, based on an Advanced Innovation Voucher, allowed a strengthening of the relationship with a fast-growing business as well as providing an opportunity for cross-school collaboration between the School of Health and Life Sciences and the School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences. In addition, the project provided an opportunity for:
- Demonstrating research impact for downstream REF reporting and publications
- Impact against UN Sustainable Development Growths in line with corporate strategy
- Further KTP portfolio growth for School and UWS in line with 2025 strategy
- Potential for further collaboration with the business.
Our experience of the KTP scheme, working with UWS, and the support on offer from Innovate UK has been exceptional and we are on the cusp of rapid business expansion as a result. I would thoroughly recommend the programme to any ambitious business that is looking to innovate and embed new knowledge within their organisation. Having seen the capabilities of the model, we are already framing a potential follow on KTP – Stuart White.
Touchless Innovation Ltd was shortlisted for the Innovation of the Year award at The Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2022.
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.
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.
Alexander McCabe, founder of AAS McCabe Ltd., is the author and publisher of the bestselling book, The Christmas Present. The company is looking to fully commercially exploit the franchise through building the brand. Following the same business model as the $120m franchise, The Elf on the Shelf, AAS McCabe Ltd has developed a gift box set that includes a customized snow globe and fully illustrated hardback book. Through the Make It To Market grant, the book has been translated into German, French, Italian and Spanish and each of these translations has become an international bestseller in their own right.
The company was looking for assistance with a marketing strategy to take the product further.
Interface partnered the company with the University of Strathclyde Marketing Works project to develop a marketing strategy to look at the following;
- Current Market
- Potential Markets
- How to maximise marketing spend.
Marketing Works is a compulsory, integral part of the Strathclyde’s Marketing postgraduate degree programmes where every student works on a consulting project put forward by a business organisation. The students work in groups of five or six and are supervised by academics who teach on the programmes and draw on their experience in research and knowledge exchange to guide the project. There is a fee of £250 (including VAT) to participate in Marketing Works.
Company – As a direct result of the Marketing Works project, the company was able to secure a deal with WH Smith, initially with the store in Glasgow, where they agreed to give Alexander McCabe four windows for display purposes as well as book signings in the run up to Christmas. A further meeting with the Glasgow store resulted in WH Smith offering Alexander a Scottish book signing tour in December 2018 in each of their 50 stores throughout Scotland.
Academic – Students gain an invaluable and challenging learning experience as a result of this programme. Students also acquire skills in developing professional relationships as well as applying concepts and techniques taught on the programme. The academics involved in the Marketing Works have an invaluable opportunity to develop a working relationship in knowledge exchange.
The Next Phase
Following on from the initial collaboration AAS McCabe Ltd wanted to produce a video animation of selected segments of The Christmas Present book that could be used to market the book helping to increase sales and to help entice potential investors to fund a full movie adaptation of the story.
Interface linked them to Computing Science students at Edinburgh Napier University who developed the 60 second animation encompassing the key requirements of the client AAS McCabe Ltd. The six key areas to be covered in the animation were to include, that Mrs Claus allocates each and every child their very own elf the minute they are born and each elf shares the same name as the child. If the child stops believing in Santa then their elf is banished from the north pole to the south pole until the child believes in Santa again. Santa’s happiest reindeer Gladys, who is the world’s first female reindeer is so happy that she even has “GLAD” in her name. All the elves are under very strict instructions that they must only give Gladys one carrot, as any more make her fart. Each of these points were to be included with appropriate sound effects and voices for each of the characters within the animation.
It was intended that the animation could be used for several different purposes i.e., to show potential investors what the story could look like and how it could be turned into a short film and for various marketing purposes on several different platforms including social media and websites, therefore it was important that both sound and animation quality were of a sufficient standard to allow the animation to be played on the relevant platforms.
The students at Napier worked closely with Alexander McCabe author of The Christmas Present and the resulting animation was achieved.
Investment Solver Ltd was founded in 2014 by Manuel Peleteiro. The company has developed a digital platform called Inbest, a data analytics platform that aims to democratise the access to wealth management. Inbest enables financial institutions to provide a holistic, personal and realistic financial planning service. This solution automates the financial planning process by gathering and analyzing customers’ financial data.
The company approached Interface in 2015 with the concept around developing a platform that would help users learn and understand their finances, empowering them to make better financial decisions. At the time, investment providers were launching online investment propositions targeted at digital consumers, but a large majority of this market segment was not engaged with saving and investing.
Investment Solver was looking to collaborate with academics interested and researching the fields of:
• Cognitive science
• Information visualisation
• Computer interaction science
• User interface design
Enhanced Support in the Interim
Whilst the company was refining its business proposition and technical offering, Interface connected them with Edinburgh Napier University who supported them in applying for a RSE (Royal Society of Edinburgh) Fellowship, hosted by the University. They were successful, and as an awardee, the company were able to focus solely on refining their business ideas, whilst receiving one year’s salary, expert training in entrepreneurship, and access to mentorship from business Fellows of the RSE and other successful entrepreneurs in the business community – all of which are vital for an early stage business.
Interface also connected them to Dr Roberto Rossi, Director of Post Graduate Programmes at University of Edinburgh Business School, as they were looking to develop a sound and innovative marketing strategy.
Dr Rossi’s Project Management students worked with the company to carry out focus groups to test the problems that first home buyers face and evaluate whether HouseUp, one of the company’s applications, would help them.
“I am very happy with the output of the project and I have used their insights for the product road map and in presentations with clients”, said Manuel.
Due to the success of the student project, the relationship developed between Interface, Investment Solver and Dr Rossi, resulting in another collaboration between the company and Dr Rossi’s students the following year. This was a market-orientated project which would help the company guide decisions on one of their product features. They provided the students with the working prototype of HouseUp, which they used in customer interviews. As a result of the study, Investment Solver gained a better understanding of the characteristics of potential customers and their needs.
“As the norm, the students have done a terrific job”, said Manuel.
Interface continued to keep in touch with Investment Solver to make them aware of additional opportunities that existed within the universities and possible research funding grants.
Connections with the company were enhanced when Dr Rossi drew upon the expertise of his colleague, Dr Raffaella Calabrese. She was conducting research to investigate models that integrate socio economic indicators to model and estimate property valuations in a given area while Manuel was looking to build an application to automatically calculate a customer’s financial situation. Together, they were awarded funding via The Data Lab to part fund an industrial doctorate to analyse data such as banking data and user data and preferences, to develop a system which will offer a long term financial plan for the user. This financial plan, which will include advice on savings and spending, will automatically be adapted to changes in markets and/or other user related data. The PHD student is being supervised by both Dr Miguel Carvalho (School of Mathematics) and Dr Raffaella Calabrese (Business School) who quotes:
“It was great to see how this collaboration developed from student project to a research collaboration with the benefit of seeing how our research directly impacts the company, helping them to develop and enhance their offering.
Together, this project helps address financial inclusion and financial well-being in society by developing an affordability model to help people to find out how much they can comfortably save.”
As part of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, over £11k was awarded by the Data-Driven Innovation Programme (DDI) to the University of Edinburgh Business School in collaboration with Investment Solver. The aim of this project was to support vulnerable people to identify the benefits that they were entitled to and to provide short term affordable lending to bridge the gap that would be repaid once the individuals received their benefits. DDI would support lenders in making such decisions by providing a credit application check that would take into account the amount of benefits that the applicant was entitled to receive.
This would be achieved by developing and applying the Inbest Benefits calculator that uses individuals’ banking data to calculate the income benefits users can claim and monitors their entitlement according to changes in their financial situation.
Interface has a strong track record of successfully matching businesses to academics with an overall aim of enabling companies to be more competitive in national or global markets. Innovation can lead to transformation within an industry sector, not only for individual businesses but also for groups of businesses working together to address common challenges.
Many economic reviews, testimonies and new and existing interactions demonstrated that facilitating opportunities for academics to work with groups of companies is an effective way of increasing the impact and reach of innovation on the Scottish economy.
The Resource Efficiency Industry Advisory Group for Food & Drink (REIAG) was set up in 2012 as a result of a partnership between Interface Food & Drink, Zero Waste Scotland and the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) Scotland. The aim was to raise awareness and promote opportunities related to environmental sustainability and to stimulate innovation in the food and drink industry.
The membership comprises of 25 prominent Scottish food manufacturers of all sizes and food types, from bakers to brewers and fish processors to fruit growers. The group has a flexible structure where members attend meetings and participate in collaborative projects with academic partners depending on the theme and its relevance to their own business challenges.
The Scottish Government’s new Circular Economy Strategy has set ambitious goals such as the new food waste reduction target. There is a need to change the way things are currently done from developing new processes to changing the culture of the workforce, so innovation is key in meeting these targets. Measures to reduce and reuse energy and waste support companies to improve efficiencies in a sector where in general, prices are remaining competitive but costs are rising. The sector has become increasingly competitive but can’t just rely on developing new products and markets to flourish and achieve the ambitious target of £30bn in revenue for the Scottish food and drink industry by 2030.
The aim of the REIAG is to drive activities which will improve the environmental sustainability of the businesses and the wider industry. This is achieved through delivering innovation projects with academia, learning journeys and by providing a forum for direct interaction between businesses and experts to share best practices in issues such as waste, water and energy efficiency. Companies with a common purpose are encouraged to collaborate around innovation and can gain easy access to academic and business expertise in a nurturing and supportive environment.
A selection of impactful projects are listed below which have de-risked early stage concepts, providing independent evidence of new ways to enhance the sustainability of the Scottish Food and Drink Industry.
Bacterial removal from recycled water – Shellfish Processors
This project was led by the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group who collaborated with the University of Edinburgh and the James Hutton Institute to carry out research into the effectiveness of UV lighting to kill bacteria in the wash process and by doing so to increase the number of times the water can be recycled. This has led to a further project using UV and filtration techniques to further enhance the water treatment system.
This feasibility project was carried out with one of the large companies in the group and Edinburgh Napier University to recycle heat required in the drying process. By deploying the outputs of the project in house, savings of £600,000 a year are forecasted. In addition, the results were disseminated to the other members of the group to explore the viability and application for their own business.
Bio-treatability of food industry effluents
This project was a collaboration with the University of Aberdeen on bio-treatability of waste effluent with six of the companies providing quantitative data and a deeper understanding of what their waste could generate in value whether through anaerobic digestion or other processes. This led to the Scottish Salmon Company winning an Interface Food & Drink competition to undertake more in-depth work with the University assessing viability and return on investment for converting their waste effluent into energy and by-products. The company now have the data to make a commercial decision on investing and integrating the processes across their Scottish operations, which has saved them considerable resource, both staff and financial.
By working together, groups of companies can share best practice, partner on projects of scale with a broad range of academics and industry experts and access funding that encourages new ways of collaborating.
Les McArthur, Operations Director at Dean’s of Huntly commented:
The group provides an excellent platform to work together, sharing knowledge and experiences which, along with technical expertise brought in by the organisers, allows us to develop and implement new sustainability measures in our businesses and saves us time and money. These measures range from high to very low cost so there is something for every type of business. The merit of being able to meet with your peers is also invaluable as we can discuss and collectively solve issues. Many of the topics covered can then be supported by onsite surveys meaning that only some time needs to be invested to establish if a particular topic can save your business money whilst also becoming more sustainable.
The benefits for academia gained are also significant, including establishing new areas for research and knowledge exchange, collaboration with other academics across other disciplines and institutions and greater visibility of academia to industry.
Professor John Currie, Director of the Scottish Energy Centre at Edinburgh Napier University added:
“Edinburgh Napier University and the Scottish Energy Centre have benefited enormously from our involvement in groups such as the Resource Efficiency Industry Advisory Group and the Scottish Craft Distillers Association. Through Interface, they have provided us with the opportunity to work in collaboration with a variety of companies and bring academic thinking to real-life industry challenges.”
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is an annual event, staged on the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle in August each year. It is an internationally renowned hallmark event which is attended annually by 220,000 people, recorded by the BBC, and is broadcast to around 100 million people. It has been running for 66 years and is a globally recognised brand.
As an event management company, the Tattoo runs other events, including overseas Tattoos, and has global influence in the events industry.
Performers from 48 countries have taken part and using the latest in sound and vision, the Tattoo is very much an “experience” for the visitors.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo aspired to enhance the audience experience by augmenting the production of the show and/or the venue and also to be a platform for encouraging and promoting new, leading edge technologies year on year.
The company had identified the following three potential areas of development:
- 3D (visual effects – 3D/holographic or latest projection technologies, e.g. a moving image of jet or train). There are opportunities to create three dimensional images throughout the arena which are likely to be complimentary to the projections and lighting systems already used.
- Smells (olfactory options – e.g. smell of gunpowder or fuel).
- Sound (acoustics – e.g. directional). An advanced sound system is already in place but this could be enhanced.
Following a referral from Scottish Enterprise, Interface partnered the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo with Professor Kenny Mitchell and Dr Oli Mival of Edinburgh Napier University to work on this collaborative project, funded by a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher. Edinburgh Napier brings a wealth of experience in the area of digital and augmented reality. Professor Kenny Mitchell is an imaginer and head of research for Disney UK, as well as a professor within the School of Computing at the University. Dr Oli Mival is an internationally recognised expert in the areas of Human Computer Interaction, User Experience and Interactive Design.
The project aimed to landscape the novel application of emerging and near to market technologies for potential deployment in The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo live performance (both for the Edinburgh shows and the touring productions). The end goal was to define and provide a design and integration roadmap for the digital and multisensory augmentation of the audience UX (User Experience) to add a new, never before experienced dimension to an already world leading production. The display needed to enhance the experience of the live user without detracting from the experience of those viewing the performance on TV, DVD and other media.
The collaboration included exploring currently available and future technologies, along with the spatial requirements of temporary outdoor venues, such as the Castle Esplanade and equivalent venues throughout the world.
The use of real time digital AR (augmented reality) in a large scale outdoor live event was the key innovation for the project. Whereas the use of digital audio and visual elements such as lighting and sound have always been used as part of the performance, the project evaluated and explored emerging augmentation technologies (for example real time laser projection mapping and directional auralisation sound “spot lights”) that far exceeded the norm and it is hoped will pioneer entirely unique and innovative visual, auditory and olfactory experiences.
“Working with the team at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has been a very interesting and productive process providing an excellent research opportunity in a real world setting. The interdisciplinary project enabled the University to draw on its wide ranging expertise across the School of Computing to explore the best way to augment the audience experience with a variety of potential emerging technologies. We look forward to a continued collaboration to help implement the ideas, insights and opportunities generated by the project work.” Dr Oli Mival
Technology in the area of digital and multisensory augmentation is still relatively new, and it is only through this project that the company and academic team will be able to better understand the capacity and limitations of the technology. Scottish Funding Council Follow-On Innovation Voucher funding to further develop the designs for a digital and multi-sensory augmentation of the user experience is a potential option to embed the developments from the initial study.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has developed a hugely successful production and international brand based around its iconic event in Edinburgh, showcasing military and cultural acts from around the world in its celebration of music and entertainment. The Tattoo is committed to staying at the forefront of technology in order to make the user experience more immersive, vibrant and exciting for live audiences as well as those watching on television.
The University will benefit from in-depth analysis of the available technologies in the areas of digital and multi-sensory augmentation. Working with an established and world renowned event will develop the academic team’s understanding of the real world deployment opportunities and challenges relating to the new technology.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is already a huge draw for tourists throughout the UK and worldwide. Further enhancement of the audience user experience would ensure that the production remains a draw for a worldwide audience, increasing tourism footfall in Edinburgh and throughout Scotland as a whole.
Following the original collaborative project with Edinburgh Napier University, the REMT did a broad fact finding exploration into available technologies to deliver improved innovation to their event. On the back of this, they have invested in further R&D and are delivering a new mobile device app for their 2017 performances, offering new services to their audience.
Commenting on the new feature, Brigadier David Allfrey said:
‘Whilst we always work to remain true to history and heritage – to remain authentic – we are constantly looking to innovate and evolve. As part of this, we are exploring leading edge technologies and expertise to help deliver the very best experience for our live and digital audiences. We are launching an app this year – the first in three stages of development – to cater for the wishes of an increasingly technically aware and demanding audience. We do not wish to draw folk away from the fabulous spectacle of the Show but we want to present a range of information and services that might make the whole experience even more fun and memorable. This first version will help us to better understand what our audience desires. It will allow us to shape what we develop for future shows.”
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.