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!

The Forth Valley Business Show is taking place on the 14t June at the Inchyra Grange Hotel & Spa in Forth Valley.

Whether you’re a first-time attendee or a seasoned veteran of business events, you’ll find a friendly and warm welcome awaiting you.
Enjoy relaxed informal networking, a great exhibition of local and national businesses and outstanding workshops and seminars, all free of charge.

Check out the speakers and the exhibitors and register for your free ticket.

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.


Sustainable Thinking Scotland (STS) Community Interest Company is a social enterprise, based in Bo’ness, created to address a wide range of social and environmental issues. They operate a variety of projects that focus on topics such as food growing, community wellbeing and wood and green waste recycling. 

STS currently produce biochar from wood waste. Biochar is a highly porous form of carbon obtained from baking wood within an oxygen-depleted environment and has the potential to draw and lock in nutrients and toxins from its environment. Until recently, the biochar STS produced was used in an agricultural setting, utilising its production as a means of carbon abatement and as a soil amendment within their food growing projects. STS wanted to research and create a biochar optimised for excess nutrient removal from water, helping to tackle harmful algae blooms and the nutrient pollution which causes them.


The water remediation techniques STS proposed involving biochar had not been adequately researched, regulated or utilised within the EU, UK and Scottish markets.  STS wanted to engage with academic expertise to advance their production of biochar whilst also ensuring effective regulatory standards were put in place governing its manufacturing and subsequent use.


The company was referred to Interface through their engagement in Firstport’s LaunchMe accelerator, which is aimed at supporting Scotland’s highest potential social enterprises.  After Interface put out a call to the relevant universities in Scotland, STS decided to work collaboratively with both the University of the Highlands & Islands (UHI) and the University of Strathclyde to test biochar production from wood waste and investigate its potential use in nutrient removal. 

A Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher was used to fund the project with UHI, whilst an initial consultancy project with the University of Strathclyde looked at in depth testing of Biochar including thermochemical changes.

The results from this research should help inform SEPA’s (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) decision making on how to license and regulate biochar’s use in water.


The new/enhanced product to be developed is a biochar which has qualities which allow it to draw in and bind to excess nutrients within water; adsorbing and removing them, resulting in improved water quality. This will provide a new solution to the growing problem of blue-green algae blooms in freshwater and also act to recover phosphorus and nitrogen from water. The biochar will act to stop nutrient pollution at source, preventing algal blooms and eutrophication, whilst creating a recoverable nutrient loaded carbon biochar that can be re-used on land. This would not only act to maintain/provide carbon within soil but would also provide a slow release (nitrogen/phosphorous rich) fertiliser. UHI’s ERI (Environmental Research Institute) already has significant current interests in this area, not least as partners in a €10M+ EU NW Europe Project (Phos4You) which demonstrates phosphate recovery and re-use innovations within Europe.

Benefits to company:

Benefits to academic partners

Benefits to Scottish Government

Despite the rise in recurring algal blooms in water bodies across the UK, biochar field-based water remediation remains absent from the £1.3 billion UK water treatment market.  Biochar technology development will help create a range of safe, low cost, low impact environmental remediation services which are more financially accessible, encouraging landowners and custodians to invest in their greenspaces, offering a comprehensive/easily accessible solution to long term problems; leading to climate action and contributing to Scotland’s net zero targets.

Next Steps

STS have continued to make strides in developing their “Biochar” product and to understand the markets in which they can operate to position themselves as a sustainable social enterprise.   

This initial project has opened the door to further collaboration and research and Interface have assisted STS to embark on other successful collaborations most notably with Adam Smith Business School at University of Glasgow where they have engaged with a range of student programmes from undergraduate to MBA. Projects include:  

Other projects relating to environmental and sustainability issues are under discussion and Sean Kerr STS Director generously gives time to undergraduate and MSc programmes, student placements, and makes himself available for speaking and networking opportunities.  The relationship continues to deepen and in 2022 Dr Nick Quinn, Lecturer in Entrepreneurship in the Business School, joined STS as a Non Executive Director.  

Sustainable Thinking Scotland’s determination and hard work is paying off as they won Innovation of the Year Award at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2023. 


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;

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. 

Aqualife Services, based in Stirling, is the largest dedicated fish vaccination company in the world.

Business Challenge

Aqualife recognised the need to address issues with the current vaccination process which can lead to repetitive strain amongst staff and limited accuracy in vaccinating the fish.


Interface facilitated a partnership between Aqualife and the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) and a project looking at design options for a new vaccination gun was funded through the UWS Inspired Scheme.   It soon became evident that a much bigger project was evolving looking at the whole fish handling process.  Aqualife have embarked on a two year £100k Knowledge Transfer Partnership with UWS to develop the ideas.

Lorna is the Business Engagement Executive covering Tayside and Forth Valley. Lorna graduated from Heriot-Watt University with a BA in Business Management. Lorna’s previous role was as a Business Adviser with Business Gateway assisting start-up and growth businesses and facilitating Women into Business events. Lorna joined Interface in 2013 and she focuses on promoting the Interface matchmaking service to businesses and organisations in the Tayside area. Lorna lives in the centre of the beautiful Tayside countryside and has bagged a few munro’s, her interests are holidaying, hill walking, cycling, watching Game of Thrones and Outlander, reading crime novels and spending time with her three grandchildren.