The Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards stage

The finalists for the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2018 have been revealed, reflecting an impressive diversity of business-academic collaborations involving 13 universities in Scotland.

The awards, run by Interface, recognise, reward and celebrate impacts achieved through collaborative business and academic partnerships.

One of the judges, Dr Stuart Fancey, Director of Research and Innovation at The Scottish Funding Council, said:

“The calibre of entries to this year’s awards was very impressive – as was the diversity. From collaborations involving small businesses to our national health service, today’s shortlist reveals an exciting range of business-academic partnerships. The Scottish Funding Council is delighted to see universities and innovation centres playing such a strong role in the successes of Scotland’s businesses and public sector.”

The shortlisted finalists are:

Innovation of the Year

For an innovative product, process or service that has been developed with a university, research institute or college partner, facilitated by Interface/Interface Food & Drink/Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher Funding Programme:

Dolce Stil Novo Sound (West Lothian) and University of Strathclyde for developing the Tone Magnet, a device that attaches to the bridge of an electric guitar to enhance the tone and increase the sustain of the instrument (the length of the note).

Norscot Joinery Ltd (Caithness) and University of Strathclyde for researching and developing virtual reality show home software for mobile phones, combining advanced interactive visualisation of buildings with Building Information Modelling (BIM) data for the first time.

Windswept and Interesting (Isle of Lewis) and University of Strathclyde for developing a portable kite wind turbine prototype using unique techniques for next generation sustainable wind energy applications.


Building skills through Knowledge Exchange

Recognising final year students, Postgraduate students or Knowledge Transfer Partnership [KTP] Associates who have worked within a business on a specific project to enhance innovation:

Dr Hassan Al-Budairi, KTP Associate of the School of Engineering, University of Glasgow, undertook a project with Lanarkshire based QTS Ltd to develop an efficient and cost-effective design of rockfall catch fences to enhance protection on railways.

Dr Neil Thomson, KTP Associate from the Department of Pure & Applied Chemistry, University of Strathclyde, undertook a project with Rumbol Products of Clydebank to develop an alternative coating for its veterinary products.

Petra Crocker, KTP Associate from Edinburgh Napier University, worked with Multiply UK Ltd in Edinburgh to create a real-time digital consumer tool to drive both the expansion and reputation of the company as industry experts in planning and insight.


Social and Environmental Impact

For a collaborative business-academic project that has produced significant social or environmental impacts contributing towards a better, fairer and more sustainable future:

Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project (Tain), pioneered by The Glenmorangie Company in partnership with Heriot-Watt University and the Marine Conservation Society, aims to restore native European oysters to the Dornoch Firth to enhance biodiversity and, together with an anaerobic digestion plant, purify the by-products from the distillation process – an environmental first for a distillery.

Leuchie House, (North Berwick) a charity which provides short break respite care to people living with a long-term condition, and Queen Margaret University, for researching and developing an outreach respite support and care service which could be licensed to other healthcare providers.

Moock Environmental Solutions Ltd (Cumbernauld) and University of Dundee for a project to recycle print toner powder by making it soluble for use in the building industry, art and animal medical treatment, with the potential to waterproof material.


Multiparty Collaboration

This award is open to groups and consortia involving three or more parties working together on an innovative research project and include a research partner from Scottish academia and at least one business:

AALART – Low-pixel Automatic Target Detection and Recognition: Thales UK, University of the West of Scotland and CENSIS Innovation Centre for developing unique technology enabling automatic detection of humans and vehicles from up to 1500m using thermal imaging.

e-frail: CM2000, Edinburgh Napier University, East Dunbartonshire Health & Social Care Partnership, Loreburn Housing Association, Digital Health and Care Institute Innovation Centre for using ground-breaking technology and predictive analytics to predict people at risk of falling in their homes, therefore preventing falls whilst allowing people to be more active.

European Lead Factory: University of Dundee European Screening Centre Newhouse, BioAscent Discovery, Pivot Park Screening Centre, Lygature, the University of Oxford and 30 private and public partners across Europe for providing access to High-Throughput Screening to test medicinal compounds leading to the creation of new medicines.

Scottish Enterprise Open Innovation Programme: Scottish Enterprise, University of Strathclyde, Subsea 7, Stena Line, Doosan Babcock, Weir Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, NHS, Glasgow City Council, City of Edinburgh Council, Devro, SP Energy Networks, NCR, Raytheon. This programme aims to drive open innovation practices by delivering training sessions, publishing innovation challenges and generating new jobs within the participating cohort.  


Outstanding Contribution to Knowledge Exchange

Recognises an individual who has played a pivotal role in knowledge exchange in Scotland:

Dr Annie Hill, Associate Professor, International Centre for Brewing and Distilling, Heriot-Watt University. As founding Vice-Chair of the member-based Scottish Craft Distillers Association (SCDA), Dr Hill has supported numerous new businesses as they enter the industry. Dr Hill supervised a successful Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Spencerfield Spirits, makers of Edinburgh Gin, which resulted in an award-winning new product and the KTP Associate becoming Head Distiller at Edinburgh Gin. She has been primary supervisor of five distilling PhDs and has supervised approximately 90 MSc student projects, often with industry partners, leading to time and cost savings in taking products to market. She worked with industry partners on Scotland’s first rum and a vodka made from potatoes and has helped to develop a botanicals library for researching new flavours. She is also a member of the Scottish Parliamentary Cross-Party Group on Scotch Whisky.

Professor Bill Buchanan, Professor in the School of Computing, Edinburgh Napier University. Bill leads knowledge exchange through a series of projects and industry-led events and engagements which have contributed greatly to growing a thriving Scottish cyber security community, leading to improvements in business resilience and incident response, and to innovations and real patient impact in health and social care. He received an OBE in 2017 for Services to Cyber Security, has co-created three successful spin-out companies, established an innovative Cloud training infrastructure in security and digital forensics, and is driving the building of a cyber security training centre, accessible online and on campus.

Professor Mark Bradley, Professor of High-Throughput Chemical Biology, University of Edinburgh. Research with practical, real-world benefits has been an important part of Mark’s pioneering world-leading translational research for more than 25 years. He has driven the establishment within University of Edinburgh’s Medical School of a research “hub” and is director of Proteus, which is disrupting current analysis methods and will lead to improved patients’ wellbeing with the development of a novel, multi-layered approach to lung care/analysis. The company recently developed a camera which can see through the human body. Prof. Bradley is an inventor on some 20 patents and has a significant history of company formation.


The awards ceremony will be a celebration of business-academic partnerships at Royal Bank of Scotland Conference Centre, Gogarburn, Edinburgh, on Thursday, 22 February. The afternoon’s programme includes a diverse range of speakers from business, academic and knowledge exchange.


For more information please contact:

Suzy Powell, PR and Communications Executive, Interface

Tel: 01316036912/07711273007      



Knowledge exchange is a sharing of expertise, ideas and evidence between businesses and universities or research institutes. The businesses learn from academic input, but equally the universities benefit from their experience of working with businesses and organisations helping them resolve real-life issues.

These partnerships bring significant benefits to the economy, society and higher education. Companies supported by Interface add an estimated £64.2m GVA into the economy each year through new services, processes or products, or efficiencies leading to cost savings, creating an estimated 1,060 jobs.

Funded by the Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Interface is a free and impartial service which aims to stimulate demand for innovation and encourage companies to consider academic support to help solve their business challenges.

Interface is the only organisation in the UK that works on behalf of all 23 universities and research institutes in Scotland to create these partnerships.