Sign up for a day of inspiration, insights, learning and networking. Supply chain resilience, industry 4.0 technologies, leadership & culture, operational excellence and sustainability will all be covered. Find out how the manufacturing sector responded to a global pandemic, how it can recover and how we will reimagine the future.

The conference, previously known as the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS) National Manufacturing Conference, will arm manufacturing sector and supply chain businesses with the ambition, vision, knowledge, tools and networks to increase productivity and maintain future competitiveness.

Making Scotland’s Future is a partnership between Scottish Government, public agencies, industry and academia that are collectively taking forward a programme of activity designed to secure a strong, sustainable future for Scotland’s manufacturing sector, aligned to the Scottish Government’s ambitions in the National Strategy for Economic Transformation. The power of Making Scotland’s Future lies in harnessing all of its collective networks, channels and support to help drive productivity, innovation and competitiveness, maintain and create high-quality jobs, and attract and develop talent, while embedding low carbon and sustainable manufacturing as its core. The vision is for Scotland to be a country inventing, designing, developing and manufacturing world-leading products and technologies. Through continuing support and investment, we are making Scotland’s future today.

The Making Scotland’s Future Conference is being led by Scottish Enterprise on behalf of the Making Scotland’s Future partnership.

Interface are exhibiting and we’d love to see you there!

Not sure what the circular economy is but want to find out more? This webinar is a tool to help businesses design, develop and evaluate the circular business models of the future. The webinar poses strategies and case studies to challenge the status quo and inspire new solutions to today’s problems.

The workshop will provide inspiration on how to make a business more circular, leaving participants with a better understanding of the circular economy and an action plan of next steps.

Find out more and register

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. 

The Challenge 

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. 

The Solution 

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:  

The Benefits 

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: 

Venue: APEX City Quay Hotel, Dundee

The Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards, sponsored by Salix Finance, is the flagship event that celebrates the partnerships between business, third sector or public sector organisations and academia. Now in its eighth year the annual event recognises, rewards, and celebrates the impacts achieved through these exciting collaborations that enrich society and support sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

To discover more about the categories, and how to apply visit our recent article. Read More.


Millport Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) is jointly funded  by Historic Environment Scotland and North Ayrshire Council and aims to preserve the historical features of Millport (Isle of Cumbrae) and reinvigorate it as a seaside and island destination.  The conservation works are supported by an outreach plan aiming to engage local community and visitors with the local heritage and history.


One of the aims of the outreach plan was to engage local children with local heritage via a series of face-to-face workshops that would explore the history and heritage of the area, including Scottish culture, language and tradition.

However, due to COVID-19 and the resulting isolation rules for home schooling, Kasia Smith, the Millport CARS officer, needed to develop an alternative to her planned face-to-face activities and had an idea to use Minecraft to engage with the children.  She turned to Mari Findlay from Interface to help her find a suitable academic partner or student group that could develop a heritage themed interactive game that could be used in both classroom and remotely in a home learning environment based on a very modest budget.   


Mari introduced Kasia to the internationally renowned School of Design and Informatics at Abertay University; Europe’s top-ranked institution for video games education. Supported by teaching fellow Kayleigh Macleod, the project was assigned to games students Claire Monaghan, Fergus Coyne and Romain Bourdon who worked on the project for three months.

Due to travel restrictions, the students were unable to visit the island before they began their work and had to use images and other online resources as their only point of reference.  Housed on the Minecraft Education platform, Cumbraecraft has been designed with eight distinct lessons and is designed to let children explore local heritage landmarks and learn more about their local history.  


In addition to enhancing the Curriculum for Excellence – the national curriculum for Scottish schools – Cumbraecraft has demonstrated how games can engage young people with learning about their heritage in a visual, interactive and fun way.  Additional benefits also included contributing to an electronic record of local heritage as well as introducing young people to potential career options in gaming and computer arts.

Depending on the success of this pilot project, the potential is there for implementing this tested and fully evaluated model across other schools within North Ayrshire Council, as well as a package for other conservation projects across Scotland.


W&J Knox Ltd, based in Ayrshire, is the largest UK manufacturer and servicing agent of Aquaculture nets. The company provides cage nets primarily to the salmon farming industry and on a biannual basis they transport the nets back to its servicing facility for washing, repairing and drying before returning them to the fish farm. 


Aquaculture nets have to be washed regularly to remove the marine plants and animals that attach to the netting restricting the flow of water to the fish contained within.  

Washing the commercial fishing nets from the salmon farming industry produces several hundred tonnes per year of a solid material rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, fish oil proteins and calcium from mussel shells and includes copper which is dried into cake. 

Following a referral from North Ayrshire Council, Interface worked with the company to identify suitable academic support to analyse this waste product and suggest a use for the nutrient rich solid cake produced from the process. The ‘cake’ which goes to an approved landfill site may have value in the nutrients contained within it which could be used to create a new product and thus reducing the volume and cost of the material going to landfill.  


The School of Applied Sciences at Abertay University were able to support the company due to their experience in handling such waste materials, extraction of bioactive ingredients and quantification of bioactive compounds.  

Through a feasibility study, funded through a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher, the university were able to analyse the waste product and its potential use.  

Follow on Activity 

Following the initial feasibility study, a researcher has now been employed by Abertay University, through the Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme (KTP), to investigate how the useful materials can be extracted from the waste cakes. Instead of being sent to landfill, tonnes of salvaged protein and oil will now be turned into livestock feed for the likes of fish, pigs and chickens. 

Company benefits

Academic Benefits

Mari Findlay, Business Engagement Executive, Interface: 

“W & J Knox are a fantastic example of a company who thought they had a nutrient rich waste product that could be used in another format as well as helping to reduce landfill. By collaborating with Abertay University on an initial feasibility study they were able to confirm their initial thoughts and progress to a KTP, which will allow them to produce a valuable protein rich animal feed.”

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.


James Frew Ltd is one of the largest privately owned building services companies in Scotland providing integrated building services, including plumbing, heating, mechanical services, micro-renewables, gas maintenance, and property upgrades for the public and private sectors, including design installation and maintenance.

The company operates from their headquarters in Stevenson, Ayrshire, covering all areas of Scotland.


James Frew believes the strength of the company is in its people and is committed to the training, health and safety of its employees.

Over half of the total workforce consists of fully qualified gas engineers who are each required to be certified; often multiple certifications per employee are required to practice.  The certification process requires each gas operative to undergo training and assessment of a core gas safety qualification in addition to various specialism qualifications relating to the nature of the work being undertaken.  These qualifications must be refreshed every five years and, in almost all cases, are not synchronised which leads to difficulties in the training schedule, increased training costs, and workforce planning issues through lost time and lack of continuity. 

For a business such as James Frew Ltd and its employees, compliance in this field is paramount and non-compliance threatens jobs and the security of the business.


Academic input was required as the project involved a strong focus on developing pedagogy for identifying training needs and linking these requirements to business process improvement; in particular, in bringing into the industry context tools that have been developed and are widely used in education but can be further developed to meet the needs of the business.

The company was awarded a Scottish Funding Council (SFC) Innovation Voucher, administered by Interface, which gave it the opportunity to collaborate with West College Scotland to develop a new innovative training planning process, including the monitoring of certification renewals, development of individual training plans and the measurement of the impact of training through AMI (Achievement Measurement Indexing). 

“We are delighted to work with West College Scotland on the Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher and it has helped us align training plans and enhance our service offer”.  Roddy Frew, Managing Director.

“The SFC Innovation Voucher has allowed James Frew and WCS to positively collaborate to implement business improvements and develop more meaningful relationships that are mutually beneficial. In doing so, our staff at the college have been able to use this knowledge to work with other organisations to help them improve and enhance the products and services that they offer”.  Andrew Fogarty, Head of Energy and Engineering, West College Scotland

Dr Stuart Fancey, director of research and innovation at the Scottish Funding Council, said:

“The Innovation Voucher Scheme has been a huge success, linking hundreds of Scottish small businesses with universities’ expertise. Entrepreneurs growing their businesses have been able to develop their products in ways they would have struggled to do by themselves and I’m excited that this expertise now includes Scotland’s colleges as well as universities.”


Company – Through reduced costs and improved quality of training, this new process will provide business efficiency savings ensuring that James Frew Ltd continues to maintain a sustainable competitive advantage in a fast-moving commercial market.  By enabling a more structured approach to developing people through training, the project will also impact on the motivation of staff and employee satisfaction.

College – West College Scotland will improve their service delivery in gas engineering and develop a greater understanding of the training needs analysis for the building services sector as a result of the collaboration. The project will also enhance understanding of industry within the College and support the development of processes that will make the College more responsive to business needs.


The project developed a process that identifies the need for early training interventions, determine more specifically exact training requirements and demonstrate measurable achievement in knowledge transfer.

The impact of the project will lead to improved training interventions that are linked to individual training plans and business process improvements.  In terms of outcomes and impact, it is envisaged that whilst improving the relevance of training interventions, significant cost savings and improved efficiency will be realised through a more planned and systematic approach to training.

By developing a more structured approach to developing people through training, the project will impact on the motivation of key staff and will increase employee satisfaction.

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.

The Company

Established in 2011, StEPS Podiatry, run by Vicki Cameron, is an award winning private podiatrist clinic covering Ayrshire and Glasgow.

Currently the official podiatrist to the Scottish Football Association (SFA), Vicki has also worked with Celtic Football Team and the Scottish Athletics Team giving her an in depth understanding of the demands placed on professional athletes. Keen to position her practice at the forefront of sports injuries, Vicki was aware that there was a need for specialist preventative equipment that could only be developed through pioneering research.

The Business Challenge

More than 80% of sports injuries are caused by repetitive strain to muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments and there is a 70% chance of re-injury within this group, leading to significant health and cost implications for players and teams alike. Current treatments are aimed at limiting this strain through functional foot orthosis such as special insoles, but Vicki wanted to create a screening tool to catch symptoms early and so prevent injury development in the first instance.

The Solution

Having worked with Strathclyde University in 2014, Vicki was well aware of the support and facilities available through Scotland’s universities and after meeting Mari Findlay, Business Engagement Executive at Interface, at a local 1:1 Business Support Clinic, she was keen to work with academia again.

Mari worked with Vicki to explore the project objectives and was able to identify a number of academic partners who would have the right expertise and the right facilities to conduct the research. Mari also identified a number of funding options which would help offset the costs of the project and allow Vicki to work with her chosen institution.

As Mari explains, “I often meet entrepreneurs with really great ideas who don’t know how to get them off the ground. They either don’t have the expertise in house or the finances to approach external support. At Interface we have connections to industry experts in each of Scotland’s universities and we can identify funding which will cover their costs.”

Thanks to Mari’s support, and with £5,000 of SFC Innovation Voucher funding, Vicki was able to embark on a project with the University of Strathclyde giving her access to highly specialised equipment including the Vicon Motion Analysis system, a 3D gait analysis machine which, in addition to video, uses both lasers and micro cameras to create a highly detailed 3D image of the foot. A range of information obtained from the scan, such as arch height and the alignment of the Achilles with the leg, is assessed and has provided Vicki with valuable data which she can use in the development of her preventative screening equipment.

As Vicki comments:

“Working with Interface has enabled me to access the most innovative equipment at Strathclyde University.

That’s been a big innovation for us; really being able to use the most cutting edge technology with the most elite athletes, to do something that has never been done before in podiatry.

I found the application process really easy, these pieces of equipment are normally housed in academia and so for a small business to get their hands on them is quite unique – Interface made that possible.”

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.

One of the UK’s leading salt traders, Peacock Salt, turned to Scotland’s academic sector to help in the technical challenge of designing a new, natural, green and economically viable method to make (sea) salt domestically.

Initially a shipping company, J C Peacock & Co Ltd is a small family business based in Ayr, which was established in 1874, evolving into a salt trading firm. Peacock salts are used for general de-icing and water softening properties as well as for industrial use in the food, agriculture, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.

Keen to investigate salt production in Scotland, the company met with Interface – the knowledge connection for business – to help source an academic partner that could provide the right mix of experience required for the project. 

With help from Interface, Peacock Salt was able to connect with Dr Carl Schaschke from the University of Strathclyde’s Department of Chemical and Process Engineering.  Dr Schaschke had experience with natural salt production methods, such as purification of brine from volcanic craters and solar evaporation.

The Business Challenge

Earlier methods of making salt in Scotland were uneconomical; therefore Peacock was keen to lead the way in developing a new, industry-leading method.  Ultimately, they envisaged a new salt production plant being built – similar to innovative new plants in other parts of the world, such as Bad Salzuflen in Germany.

The main challenge in production terms was turning sea water (ca. 3% saline solution) into a concentrated solution of ca. 26%, which is when salt crystals start to drop out of solution.  The quality of the crystals is affected by the latter stages of the evaporation procedure. 

Peacock Salt offers the largest variety of salts available in the UK.  With over 6,000 customers, the company’s range includes salts from around the world such as Rock, Sea and Manufactured salts. 

Peacock Salt’s operations manager, Gregorie Marshall, was keen that the process used as natural a method as possible:  “Ideally we wanted to develop a salt production process that used green energy, where little additional input of heat and electricity is required, while also developing a new plant which itself would become a tourist attraction.

“We needed expertise in the areas of chemistry, chemical technology, chemical or process engineering to carry out research which would investigate and design the most suitable method of producing salt in Scotland. We also wanted to identify and analyse suitable sites using geographical and meteorological data.” 

Three universities came forward as potential partners for the project but ultimately, Peacock Salt chose to move forward with Strathclyde as Dr Schaschke had direct experience in salt production.

Initial discussions were leaning towards taking the project on as a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), however it was decided that an initial financial feasibility study was required before progressing the KTP.  

The Solution

Peacock Salt was introduced to Carrie Shaw from the Strathclyde Links project, who was able to assist the firm source funding for the feasibility study, which was completed by Professor John Finch, of the University of Strathclyde Business School’s Department of Marketing.

Professor Finch, working with PhD student Emma Reid, provided Peacock Salt with a market/business viability report that provided in-depth analysis of the market for a sea salt produced at a facility in Scotland, including developing business scenarios in order to assess product positioning, price and current competitors in the market place.

A KTP to investigate a Scottish salt production facility took place in 2011.

Follow On activity

Following this successful project, Peacock Salt got back in touch with Interface to seek an academic partner to develop chemical brine which would allow them to extend their current offering of liquid de-icer.

This required the development of an additive that lowers the freezing point of the brine, and therefore the working temperature of the de-icer, without having any detrimental impact on the handling of the material. The additive would also enhance the salt or brine’s ability to adhere to the surface it has been applied to, offering a longer residual effect whilst not impairing the de-icing capabilities.

Interface successfully matched Peacock with Dr Mohammed Yaseen and Professor Andrew Hursthouse from the University of the West of Scotland to lead on this project. The team investigated the additives that can be applied to de-icers and examined performance improvements such as freeze-point suppression, reduced environmental impact and increased residual effect.

As a result, this would deliver an enhanced product offering for the business in the relatively innovation-free winter maintenance market. It will also have a positive impact on the business operating in the UK and potentially open up new market opportunities further field.

In addition, Peacock Salt is currently working on another collaboration project facilitated by Interface. 

As a key supplier of de-icing salt and winter equipment to local authorities, businesses and private individuals, Peacock Salt were keen to tackle another industry challenge. During winter, de-icer salt is spread on the roads every day when the weather conditions dictate, mostly when the temperature is predicted to be below a certain level. When spreading for multiple days no account is taken as to how much de-icer salt is left on the road.

The company was keen to develop an innovative method to measure the amount of di-icer salt on the road as the vehicle moves along, so it can be determined whether any more de-icer salt is required. Additionally, they wanted to develop a method of reporting this information back to the vehicle driver/equipment to enable them to alter the spread rate of de-icer.

Interface successfully matched Peacock Salt with Professor David Flynn from Heriot-Watt University, School of Engineering & Physical Sciences, to draw on his experience in research and knowledge exchange and guide the project. The project is funded by the Scottish Funding Council Follow-On Voucher, administered by Interface.