Laura Goodfellow holding an award

The winners of the seventh Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards have been announced during an online celebration of game-changing innovation.

The awards, organised annually by Interface, mark the biggest celebration of businesses and academic knowledge exchange in Scotland, showcasing the achievements of collaborative partnerships and individuals alike.

Addressing the online celebration today, Thursday, 17 March, Ivan McKee, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, said: “I would like to congratulate the winners today for showing the ingenuity, industry and creativity that is essential in achieving success.

“Scotland has world-class universities, with businesses looking to draw on that knowledge to develop, test and research new products, processes and services. By bringing the two partners together, we can solve some of our biggest challenges, such as driving recovery from COVID-19, supporting the transition to net zero and delivering inclusive growth.”

Laura Goodfellow, Interim Director, Interface, added: “I am delighted that the appetite for businesses to partner with academics shows no signs of decreasing; if anything, the last two years have brought more ideas to the fore and driven an upturn in the number of companies and organisations Interface has supported.”

The winners are:

COVID-19 Collaborative Response

Abergower Digital Ltd, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt University and partners including the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service for developing the first Scottish-made 3D COVID-19 swab for PCR tests with high accuracy, nose-only application. The collaboration resulted in a swab with a unique helix design tip which captured more material, giving a more definitive test result and the establishment of production in the UK future-proofing supplies.

Innovation of the Year

Celestia UK, Edinburgh, and Heriot-Watt University for developing eScan, with unique electronic scanning multi-beam antenna to simultaneously communicate data from hundreds of low-orbit satellites to ground stations. By solving bandwidth issues for the satellite communications market, the product offers huge potential for application in many areas, for example 5G, remote rural broadband infrastructure and aircraft. 

Innovator of the Future – sponsored by SCI

Juliette Farrell, KTP Associate from University of Strathclyde, who collaborated with Elite Contract Furniture, Glasgow, to embed new tools and methodologies into the business including rebranding and developing an e-commerce site for a new product, allowing them to sell online for the first time in 68 years.

Knowledge Exchange Champion

Professor Murray Pittock, University of Glasgow, has shaped national and local government policy on literary tourism, and improved the way heritage and tourism sectors develop visitor experiences. His work on the economic impact of the poet Robert Burns secured two Scottish Parliament debates and persuaded the Scottish Government to commission his research report on the subject.

Knowledge Exchange Heroes

Dr Marco Gilardi, University of the West of Scotland, researches software and design tools for interactive graphics and extended realities for training and education with an interest in multimodal interaction, producing 13 publications and a patent application. His involvement in Paisley-based start-up, The VR Hive, has led to many beneficial opportunities for students, staff and the company. He led a highly successful project with The Scottish Crannog Centre, designing an innovative immersive gallery that exploits Augmented Reality technologies.

Making an Environmental Difference

NHS Highland and the University of the Highlands and Islands, with a cross-sector partnership including Caithness General Hospital, Scottish Water, SEPA and the James Hutton Institute, for significantly improving the quality of hospital wastewater discharged into the sewerage system and the environment. The collaboration won the internationally-recognised Alliance for Water Stewardship accreditation, a first for a hospital.

Making a Social Difference – sponsored by Community Enterprise in Scotland (CEIS)

Glasgow Science Centre, Scottish Schools Education Research Centre and University of Edinburgh for improving the quality of science education for young, underserved children through interactive games, a new exhibition design framework and teacher training.

Multiparty Collaboration

The Nano Safety Research Consortium with Heriot Watt University, academic and industrial partners in Scotland and Europe, including University of Edinburgh, Institute of Occupational Medicine, Yordas Ltd and BASF SE,  for addressing important gaps in knowledge about nanotechnology including safety testing, influencing the content of national regulations and promoting the responsible and sustainable development of nanotechnology to ensure that the benefits promised by this new technology can be realised safely.

Dr Siobhán Jordan, former Director of Interface, received an award for her Outstanding Contribution to knowledge exchange. She established the organisation in 2005 and headed Interface for 17 years.

Photograph shows Laura Goodfellow with the Outstanding Contribution award she presented to Dr Siobhán Jordan.