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!

This event will give you the opportunity to explore the AIMS (Advancing Innovative Manufacturing in the South of Scotland) project facilities and meet the engineers that maintain and operate the advanced manufacturing capabilities available. You will also hear from Interface and the Defence and Security Accelerator – DASA who may be able to fund projects involving the AIMS facilities.

Refreshments and networking opportunities will be provided.

Advancing Innovative Manufacturing in the South of Scotland (AIMS) Project

The AIMS Project (Advancing Innovative Manufacturing in the South of Scotland) is primarily there to benefit SMEs. The use of the AIMS equipment and expertise is free of charge. Incorporating state-of-the-art equipment and technologies, we provide SME’s access to advanced manufacturing, business support and industry-led expertise, assisting businesses to:

• Innovate, develop, prove, and introduce new processes in product manufacturing

• Introduce businesses to new technology and innovate ways of manufacturing

• Turn their ideas into reality without the cost of R&D

Recent collaborations have resulted in assisting clients with introducing new products, automating processes and reverse engineering. We have a range of equipment available at our group of innovation facilities based at Dumfries & Galloway College (Dumfries Campus), The Bridge (Dumfries) and Borders College (Hawick Campus).

The South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) is the strategic Destination Management and Marketing Organisation for the South of Scotland, encompassing Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders.

After a successful 2022 conference, SSDA will be hosting their second annual conference on March 14th 2023 at Peebles Hydro in the Scottish Borders which will be an exciting opportunity to:


March 14th 2023

09h30 – registration there will be a full-day of speakers, workshops and networking, followed by an Evening Networking Dinner (optional).

March 15th 2023 

Half-day FAM trip to meet local businesses. (optional)


Full-day FAM trip to meet local businesses. (optional)

These trips are a fantastic opportunity to network, share ideas and best practices. Always a popular event, be sure to sign up quickly,  as only limited places are available.

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.


Since 1999, Tweeddale Youth Action (TYA) has operated as a youth-led organisation that gives young people a safe space to congregate, an alternative to bus stops and street corners. They operate two youth clubs in Peebles and Innerleithen and through the provision of free opportunities for all, they support young people in accessing advice, developing skills, confidence, and a sense of belonging and responsibility within the community.


Five years ago, TYA received LEADER (a European Union initiative to support rural development projects in rural, coastal and urban areas of EU member countries) funding that allowed them to invest in a metal workshop, a bike repair shop and a fully kitted out commercial kitchen.  Off the back of this, TYA has grown several micro enterprises within the youth club – Bike Punks and Food Punks.

Bike Punks is based around their in-house metal workshop.  They started repairing unwanted bikes and giving them back out to the community, teaching young people metalwork as well as bike repair skills.

Food Punks is based around their commercial kitchen and delivers outside catering for events, weddings etc. As well as the kitchen, they have a van and outside cookery equipment and teach young people the skills involved in outside catering.

Pre-Covid, both endeavours had healthy income-generating capacity. With Bike Punks, TYA had a service level agreement with local authorities to support young people in learning metalwork skills. In addition. they had an agreement with the South East of Scotland Transport Partnership to provide an e-bike library locally as well as an e-cargo bike delivery service. Similarly, Food Punks saw a steady demand for events catering. 

This pipeline of business disappeared with the onset of Covid and TYA found themselves at a crossroad. Both Bike Punks and Food Punks had a strong brand to build upon and TYA had ideas they were interested in taking forward to diversify their offering.

Tweeddale Youth Action needed help with developing a business strategy to see where the opportunities lay and which of their ideas should be taken forward.


After being referred by South of Scotland Enterprise, Shelley Breckenridge, Business Engagement Executive at Interface, was able to connect Dave Hodson, Locality Manager at TYA, to Ed Green, Business Development Manager at the Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow, who was looking for consultancy projects for his students.  The TYA project received the support of two separate groups of University of Glasgow students.

The project brief for the students was:

Initially, as part of their consultancy projects, a group of full-time MBA Students at Glasgow University researched and prioritised these ideas, considering in-house resource to develop a strategy and a way forward. As a follow up, a group of undergraduate students on the ‘Entrepreneurial Ventures: Management & Growth’ course (which works primarily with social enterprises and charities) were given the same brief to deliver new viewpoints for the company.


This process of consultation meant that the time commitment needed from TYA was reduced to a minimum whilst receiving insightful and helpful suggestions from the students.  Equally helpful for the Locality Manager was being given the luxury of taking time out from the usual spinning of plates to think and reflect on where the organisation was and where they needed to get to.  Creating the time to articulate the organisation’s needs, and having this reflected back in reports that they could share and act on, was invaluable to them.

The ABCs….and Ds of Success

Alpacas, branding, collaboration……and diversification are the keys to success for a Borders’ based company.

Beirhope Alpacas are a family-owned smallholding located in the stunning Cheviot Hills. They started operating in 2017 with five alpacas and 12 acres of smallholding.  Since then, the business has thrived and managed to withstand the COVID-19 crisis.

Their core offering is alpaca treks and ‘meet the alpaca’ experiences. This is just their starting point, however, and they want to take their assets – the alpacas and beautiful setting in the Borders – and develop a range of offerings all based around the ‘Beirhope Brand’. Initially, the company was looking for visual design and communication ideas around how to develop the story of their smallholding, their alpacas and yarn, and their packaging and branding, all with a focus on provenance.

The company was referred to Interface by the South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE). Since SOSE’s inception in March, Interface has been working closely with their team members to ensure that the Interface service is signposted for businesses within their region for COVID-19 support and beyond.

With assistance from Interface, Beirhope Alpacas successfully applied to the University of the Highlands and Islands for consideration for the Visual Communication and Design BA programme to help develop their brand.  The students started working on this collaborative project in September.


Currently, there isn’t a simple way for a heating engineer to determine how dirty a heating system is. This leads to inefficiencies, breakdowns, unnecessary costs and disruption for occupants.

Thermafy Group Ltd. has developed ThermaFy, a digital platform that can determine how dirty a heating system is.  It is a leader in real-time thermal analysis; their software allowing the collection and interpretation of thermal data from a smartphone. The software highlights inefficiencies in a heating system and offers a treatment plan that improves efficiency, thus saving money for the customer as well as reducing carbon emissions.

Their current market is the domestic heating industry; working with boiler manufacturers, water treatment companies, installers, surveyors and energy companies.


To ensure this software could be rolled out across the industry, it was vitally important that it was easy to use, saving engineers’ time.  No training modules currently exist that are designed specifically at educating heating engineers on how to use thermal cameras within the job and it is not possible to purchase off-the-shelf modules.

Developing new training modules would help standardise workplace skills, ensuring that engineers could adopt this software and develop new customer, IT and thermography / site based digital skills.

It was crucial that Thermafy Group Ltd. could provide their future customers with these new skills and extra knowledge to support the benefits of using their software.


Thermafy Group Ltd. had previously been referred to Fife College by the Fife Economic Partnership to use their specialist facilities in order to develop ThermaFy’s software.  It was during these tests that Fife College realised that the company needed more engagement with the end users, the engineers.  Together, they submitted an application to Interface for a Scottish Funding Council Workforce Innovation Voucher, which aims to support innovation by funding the development of a company’s workforce.

The expertise available within Fife College’s gas training centre and their specialist facilities, combined with the expertise of Thermafy Group Ltd. on these new processes and software, helped develop the specialist accredited modules that would enable the industry to adopt new improved working practises, increasing both their productivity and trust with their customers.  It is hoped that these training packages will give rise to a new breed of industry engineers with expertise and skills in the field of validating best practice supported by thermography skills.


Company – Fife College assisted in helping and improving ThermaFY’s thermal imaging software, used by heating engineers and surveyors to assess buildings in a cost-effective and non-invasive manner. It is a great illustration of a company collaborating with the right academic expertise, in this case, Peter Jones, an academic with 30 years’ experience in the gas industry. With his input, the company quickly realised the importance of providing supplementary training material, allowing engineers to gain a better understanding of how to use the app and the thermal data obtained.

Academic – It is clear that the college has helped out ThermaFY significantly, but the benefits are mutual. The college has been able to engage in applied research and ThermaFY have equipped the lecturers with new knowledge from the concept. This knowledge has been disseminated to apprentices and students who have been able to improve their digital skills and given them the confidence to question existing practices within their organisations and the wider sector.

Follow-On Activity

In August 2020, Thermafy Group Ltd. had an Advanced Innovation Voucher to work with Robert Gordon University approved to develop the ThermaFy product in response to COVID-19. The existing ThermaFy product can already extract enough information from a thermal image to classify a subject as having an elevated temperature or not. The company wish to improve the accuracy of their product with respect to COVID-related fever by considering other reasons for elevated temperature (such as environmental, medical, physical factors). Robert Gordon University will provide expertise in data capture, machine learning and deep neural networks to support the product development. The product has already received significant interest with pilot installations of the first solutions being deployed in two hospitals for the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Trust – see how it’s working here

The Company

Scotmas is a leading manufacturer of water treatment, hygiene and environmental care products. Best known for its extensive range of chlorine dioxide systems, developed with over 25 years experience in the market, it is now actively involved in developing microbial biotechnology, insect repellents, insecticidal textiles and consumer product ingredients.

With a strong and continued commitment to R&D, Scotmas is always on the look-out for strategic investment opportunities with other companies and projects which can provide experience and capabilities that will add value to its offering.

The Business Challenge

An introduction to Interface – The knowledge connection for business, presented an opportunity to advance two research projects, one looking at bacteria identification and another on bacteria and virus tests. Following an extensive search of expertise in the field, Interface helped the company to develop active partnerships with several academic institutions.

The company produces microbe-based products used for a variety of applications in waste water treatment and land remediation, but wanted to expand this into a range of domestic cleaners and products for specific industrial contamination.

The Solution

Following discussions with the University of Aberdeen, it was learnt that spin out company NCIMB was undertaking the characterisation of the bacteria strains on a routine basis.

Scotmas was looking for help to investigate the effectiveness of one of its products for a client. Interface facilitated a project with Glasgow Caledonian University’s Dr Chris Woodall, from the School of Life Sciences, offering specialist testing services for bacteriological and viral testing. The project resulted in a continued relationship and subsequent testing work.

Following the success of the initial project, Scotmas embarked on a number of new collaborative projects, including corrosion studies and a project on microencapsulation and was in active discussions with other academic groups including Scottish Crop Research Institute and the University of Glasgow.


Alistair Cameron, Technical Director at Scotmas commented:

“We were looking to strengthen our range of microbe-based products in a variety of domestic cleaners and products for tackling specific industrial contamination.  Interface linked us to academic partners who helped in the commercial culturing of these microbes, in order to supply a powdered product to Scotmas’s commercial operations.”

Scotmas went on to collaborate with the engineering department at Heriot Watt University, an academic team that were included in the University’s research submission to REF 2014* (Research Excellence Framework), 94% of which was judged as “world-leading” or internationally excellent. 

In November 2016 Scotmas announced that they are sending new self-sustaining technology to Botswana to bring properly treated water supplies to some of its most remote areas.The Bravo Hydro system runs without grid electricity or solar power, using a tiny generator in the water pipe. Scotmas said the technology could bring reliably disinfected water to areas where it had not been possible before.It is being sent to 40 villages in Botswana thanks to a major investment by the country’s government. ​

Scotmas undertook around ten collaborative projects with academia since the original project facilitated by Interface including two Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) with Heriot-Watt University. The family business employs 42 people and provides chlorine dioxide water solutions around the world – including in Doha for the Qatar World Cup 2022 and in villages in southern India.

In 2020 Interface linked Scotmas to Robert Gordon University to support the development of a new and innovative method of producing disinfectants without harmful by-products for use in hospitals, water supplies and food production applications. The project was funded through an Advanced Innovation Voucher and won Innovation of the Year at The Scottsh Knowledge Exchange Awards 2021.

*The REF is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

React2 is a specialist software company based in Peebles, developing speech and language therapy rehabilitation tools for both adults and children suffering from brain injury and trauma.

Since 1998, the company has developed a suite of speech and language therapy (SLT) software called React, which has been a leading product for SLT, sold to therapists and private individuals throughout most English speaking countries.

The Business Challenge

React2 recognised the need to investigate, for the first time, the mechanisms underlying stroke patient recovery using computer assisted home therapy. This led to their Managing Director, Dean Turnbull, meeting with Dr Siobhán Jordan of Interface and the Knowledge Links team to investigate how the academic sector could support the development of the young business and to take forward the ideas of React2.

The Solution

The result has been a successful collaboration with SINAPSE, the Scottish university research pool for brain imaging. The research is being undertaken at the Brain Research Imaging Centre (BRIC), a member of the SINAPSE collaboration, at the Division of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Edinburgh at the Western General Hospital.

The project is investigating the patient recovery through leading edge functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). The academic alliance injected fresh, new approaches to the business and may lead to further developments of the React2 software, which contains a vast number of new exercises in an easy-to-use and up-to-date interface, and is a huge step forward in computer based therapy. The React2 development has combined the development skills of NHS speech and language therapists, as well as specialists from around the world.

PhD student and speech therapist, Anna Jones, who is leading the research, comments: “The results will assess the overall effectiveness of Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) and its long-term benefits. ‘React2’ could dramatically improve SLT for many stroke patients, allowing for more intensive therapy than is currently available.”

React2 sees the potential in e-health as the way forward for patient care.

Managing Director, Dean Turnbull, is thrilled by the collaboration: “This is the sort of research that we as a small company could never fund ourselves, but through Interface and SINAPSE, we are working with the foremost brain imaging specialists in the world. It’s fantastic.”

A 3 year studentship, part of the Knowledge Exchange in Translational Imaging grant funding from Scottish Funding Council to SINPASE, will take the research forward, and the next step of the project will investigate the long term mechanisms underlying stroke patient recovery using computer assisted home therapy and will investigate the patient recovery through leading edge fMRI imaging. This will involve the University of Edinburgh’s Brain Imaging Research Centre at the Western General Hospital’s Division of Clinical Neurosciences. Dean believes that this will result in significant business growth, with increased sales and new employment within the company.

“We are delighted that the collaboration between Propeller Media and University of Edinburgh, facilitated by Interface. Importantly, this relationship highlights how SME’s can benefit from expertise available”. Siobhan Jordan, Director of Interface