Presented in Partnership with Interface and the School of Innovation and Technology (SIT) at Glasgow School of Art.

Tapping into academic skills, resources and capacity can be a powerful way to explore and unlock innovative new products, service and processes for your business, organisation, freelance practice or network. It can also help you think differently about how you approach problems, create additional resource to develop and test ideas and offer valuable support to realise your ambitions more fully.

Although deeper collaborative relationships between academia and the creative, heritage and business sectors holds significant potential, bringing these elements and their distinctive talents together for mutual benefit can be challenging. In this insightful session, Professor Steve Love, School of Innovation and Technology (SIT) at Glasgow School of Art, will offer an overview of their dynamic knowledge exchange ambitions, discuss the specific support programmes networks can access— and look at how this relationship could pave the way for exciting new possibilities.

This interactive online workshop will offer an overview of SIT’s design-led innovation approach and how they could support your businesses, organisations or networks regardless of scale or capacity to engage in the below key areas:

Carol-Ann Adams, Business Engagement Executive at Interface, will also provide an overview of how they can help make your links with academia work, including the potential to access innovation grants.

The event will also offer attendees the opportunity to discuss their specific projects in more detail, find out how SIT and Interface could support their ambitions and establish next steps.

The School of Innovation and Technology

The School of Innovation and Technology (SIT) at The Glasgow School of Art was formally launched in August 2023 and is a merger between the Innovation School and The School of Simulation and Visualisation. SIT is based at The GSA’s main campus locations in Glasgow and at the GSA’s highland campus in Altyre, Forres.

SIT’s Knowledge Exchange (KE) strategy is based on creating a scalable KE Impact & Innovation Ecosystem and impact-based culture that makes a significant local, national and international difference beyond academia.


Based regionally throughout Scotland, Interface works with organisations of all sizes and in all sectors, to match them to Scotland’s world-leading academic expertise, to help with their growth ambitions or solve a challenge they may be facing. Our primary aim is to encourage individuals, community groups, businesses & social enterprises in Scotland, to work with a university partner to drive innovation and encourage creativity, turning knowledge and ideas into value for society. With connections into all Scottish universities, colleges and research institutes, Interface has an established and efficient process that will save time and money in identifying and accessing academic expertise, research, technologies, specialist equipment and funding. Our free and impartial service has helped thousands of organisations become more competitive, enabling them to increase their profits, reach new markets and ultimately become more sustainable.

Steve Love

Professor Steve Love is Head of Knowledge Exchange activities in the School of Innovation and Technology at The Glasgow School of Art. His primary research expertise is investigating the impact of digital applications and services on people’s behaviour and lives. His work has been sponsored by funders such as the AHRC, EPSRC, ESRC, InnovateUK, Scottish Funding Council, European Space Agency, the European Social Fund, BT, Sharp Laboratories Europe and “3”. He has extensive experience of managing multi-disciplinary teams from both academia and industry. He is a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Peer Review College and a Fellow of the Design Research Society.

Carol-Ann Adams

Carol-Ann worked for 29 years in banking, latterly working in the Corporate Markets division, and attained Chartered Banker status during her career. Having embarked on a lifestyle change, Carol-Ann relocated to the Highlands in 2014, and worked for Highlands and Islands Enterprise’ Inward Investment Team for just under a year. This gave her a fantastic breadth of knowledge of the region in a relatively short space of time. Joining the Interface team in early 2015, Carol-Ann’s role concentrates on promoting the Interface service to as many businesses as possible, encouraging them to enter successful academic collaborations.


In his spare time, Mark Yeadon, founding Director of c-monsta, is an avid surfer.  It was during his surfing trips that Mark became frustrated about the lack of way to allow his surf kit to dry, keep it all together and transport in a convenient manner.  This led to the development of an early-stage prototype of a wetsuit dryer, a form of hanger, shaped so that boots and gloves could be hung in an inverted position, allowing them to dry; with a further row that could also hold a wetsuit.

It just so happened that the shape Mark had created looked very much like a sea-monster, and so c-monsta was born!

Throughout the development stage, Mark produced several working prototypes, so he knew the concept was viable and that it functioned effectively.


Mark was looking to work in collaboration with a university partner to develop the product further by enhancing the design, minimising the use of materials, and identifying the best possible materials that could be used in the manufacturing process.  Design expertise was needed to make the product fully market ready.


After being referred by Business Gateway in Moray, Carol-Ann Adams from Interface successfully partnered Mark with Nick Bell from the Product Design Engineering Department at Glasgow School of Art (GSA).

The project focused on optimising the design by taking advantage of the product design skills, detailed materials knowledge, and extensive network of manufacturers that GSA has, to develop a design that would have great functionality and could be manufactured at a price point that would make the product commercially viable.

The collaboration was an immediate success, using GSA’s skills and the client’s network of surfers to develop a product that was viable for manufacture in Scotland.   Glasgow School of Art has excellent facilities – including 3D Computer Aided Design software, 3D printing facilities and a full wood and metal workshop – all of which were utilised for this project.

 This first stage project was funded by a Scottish Funding Council Standard Innovation Voucher.



The novel aspect of this product is the combination of features that allow the surfer or watersports enthusiast to air dry their wetsuit, boots and gloves effectively and without using electrical power. The geometry of the product allows the optimal positioning of the equipment – enabling water to drain out and to allow airflow to quickly dry the kit ready for the next session.  By keeping the equipment dry, this design also extends its lifespan.

The added bonus is that the hanger keeps all the equipment organised and in one place – so the surfer should never forget a key item. There are no products on the market that have this combination of features and functionality.

The product has now been developed and sales have surpassed expectations, as more people have been taking up outdoor pursuits such as wild water swimming.  

Scottish Economy

It is hoped that the manufacturing of the final product will be done in Scotland – building on links that both the client and GSA have with Scottish manufacturers and as part of GSA’s commitment to the reshoring of manufacturing jobs. The geometry and manufacturing processes employed will be selected so that recycled plastic material can be used where possible.

Follow-on Activity

The company and academic then successfully applied for a Scottish Funding Council Student Placement Voucher to build on the solid foundation of the c-monsta product design. Callum Leitch, a student from GSA, worked with the company to refine the existing product architecture and materials to make it suitable for the needs of the snow sports market.

Benefits – Company

This follow-on project provided the company with a great opportunity to engage with the knowledge and expertise of the student and academic supervisor – reinforcing the links formed during the initial Innovation Voucher funded project.  By utilising the student’s Project Design Engineering skillset, the company is hoping to penetrate new markets and increase sales.

Benefits – Academic

This provided an excellent opportunity for the student to see first-hand the real-world commercial value and application of the skills they had developed during their degree studies and allow them to produce invaluable content for their portfolio.

The project also provided the basis of an excellent case study for the Product Design Engineering (PDE) department at GSA, showing the current students the real-world application of the PDE skills and processes; taking an initial idea right through the development process, through sketches, prototypes, design reviews and ultimately to a manufactured product.

Students do not often get the opportunity to see projects make it to market, so these types of client projects are invaluable at highlighting the value of the skills they are learning. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to show the value of the teaching/research/enterprise linkages, reinforcing the links between the PDE academic staff and Scottish entrepreneurs.

“From the outset, Callum not only brought enthusiasm to the project, he also took a solid analytical, methodical and practical approach to the problem of drying and storing ski kit. Callum’s design skills were bolstered by great communication skills which made him a pleasure to work with.”  Mark Yeadon, Director, c-monsta


SENSEcity Ltd. is a dynamic, high-tech start-up company looking to disrupt the traditional travel guidebook market. Pooja Katara, an architect, is the founder of the company and came up with the idea of an alternative guidebook as an artistically illustrated booklet with a complimentary mobile application during her Masters’ degree at The Glasgow School of Art. The output from her degree included a test of this guidebook.  


SENSEcity Ltd. wanted to develop the test case into a working product, addressing the demand for an authentic tourism experience by offering a unique interactive guidebook that would work along with an augmented reality application delivered on a mobile phone. The intent was to bring the cultural heritage of the city to life through experiential tourism. Pooja was looking to collaborate with academics to develop a prototype which could also be a fully working product.

Although Pooja had studied at The Glasgow School of Art (GSA), she was not sure which university would have the capacity and capability to work with her, or how to contact the right people to take forward a collaborative project.


Pooja met Ruth Oliver, Interface’s Business Engagement Executive for Glasgow and Clyde Valley, at the RBS Accelerator in Glasgow, where the company is based. Ruth drew up a brief outlining the challenge, which was issued to universities throughout Scotland. Several responded to the brief and Pooja chose to collaborate with The Glasgow School of Art’s School of Simulation and Visualisation to use augmented reality to bring archive images and animations to life, and embed audio into the app.

The project was to focus on:

The collaborative project was part-funded funded by a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher, administered by Interface.


The development of this project alongside the expertise from GSA proved extremely beneficial to SENSEcity and led to their first commercial travel guidebook and mobile application.  The creation of high-quality 3D content improved the AR interactions that users will now get to experience. The re-written narrative, and access to local expert knowledge of the history professor, made the content richer and, with access to the professional sound recording studio at GSA, the company was able to create a high-quality audio guide along with sound effects; an important feature within the app.

Follow-On Activity

Interface provided additional support to the company through a collaborative project with digital marketing students at the University of Glasgow looking at how to promote the SENSEcity app.

In collaboration with West Coast Motors and The Glasgow School of Art (following on from the original project with GSA), SENSEcity received £7,500 from the £50k Collaboration Fund launched by the new Experience Glasgow tourism network, which will allow visitors onboard the Glasgow City Sightseeing bus tours to experience Glasgow in a hi-tech way.

Pooja has since become a Converge Challenge winner of the newly introduced Creative Challenge category for her new-age travel guide.

The company are currently looking at evolving their product to fit into the Covid and post-Covid world.

Scottish Ballet is Scotland’s national dance company and one of five national performing companies in Scotland. It is a registered charity, employing 36 professional dancers, a dedicated support staff, and a freelance orchestra of up to 70 musicians.

The mission of Scottish Ballet is to produce world-class dance and learning opportunities designed to engage and excite diverse audiences in Scotland, the UK and internationally. This is achieved by presenting modern work and unique interpretations of the classics, making them relevant to audiences today. In support of this, Scottish Ballet designs and creates costumes, sets and unique dance environments, together with a focus upon education initiatives centered around dance.

Widening access to the arts is both a national priority and a challenge and capable of being addressed by employing novel applications of technology and “new to the field” innovations.  The company approached Interface to establish a collaboration to evaluate the potential of using augmented reality in a dance context.   This innovative project combines dance with novel technological approaches to choreograph, produce and capture in 3D a “movie” of bespoke dance sequences to widen public dissemination and participation in the arts.

A pilot project with the renowned Digital Design Studio (DDS) at Glasgow School of Art was brokered which sought to demonstrate that the use of visualisation and presentation technologies can enthuse existing and new audiences to engage with the arts. The core aim of the collaborative project is to create a high definition film which will show dancers in a short choreography, mixed in with the motion capture data “vapour trail”. This initial project tested the idea in the promotion of Scottish Ballet’s input to the 2013 Edinburgh International Festival.

The collaboration and product development journey jointly taken by the partners has resulted in a better mutual understanding of each other’s area of expertise and has opened wider dialogue around future collaborations of this nature. The production of the unique HD film has allowed dance to be viewed in a novel way, creating a new method through which wider audiences can engage with the arts.  The impact for DDS is that it now has a potential new market within which to develop new techniques and products, for example, to use its expertise to promote the visual and acoustic arts. This is likely to lead to new project with Scottish Ballet and others including ventures into data capture and live streaming of events. For Scottish Ballet, the main impact relates to the development of a novel way to showcase their performances, reach new audiences and explore further new ways to use interactive digital technologies to supplement traditional promotional methods.