Proof that business/university collaborations are productive has been shown by the fact that in the four regions of Scotland – Perthshire, Tayside, Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway – covered by two Interface Business Engagement executives, funded by Scottish Enterprise, who work with companies to enable access to university resources, 62 collaborative projects have been established in the past 18 months with a value of more than £487,785.
Added to this, the Interface service helps businesses to improve products, streamline services and develop processes which will enable them to increase their profits, maximise their export potential and create and safeguard jobs in these areas creating further benefits for Scotland’s society and economy.
An Interface survey1 showed that engaging academic support is beneficial to businesses. In that research, 79% companies which had engaged with academia have, or expect to increase their turnover as a result of their project. Fifty per cent of companies stated that their development project would not have gone ahead without academic collaboration.
Dr Siobhán Jordan, director at Interface, comments:
“Such findings demonstrate that where companies do engage with Scottish universities they experience positive outcomes. Therefore, it is a missed opportunity that almost three out of four rural businesses are not currently engaging with universities as, clearly, there is benefit to be had. There may be several reasons for this – they have not heard of Interface, they do not realise that collaborating with Universities can develop their new ideas, they are focused on other means of building their businesses, they do not think they have time and so forth, but we are determined to continue building on the progress we have made to date.
“The Interface Business Engagement executives have been in place for two years now and are delivering positive results. It is encouraging to note that in 2014 the number of collaboration projects was up by 150% on the previous year, from 20 in 2013 to 50 in 2014.
“As well as assisting companies find academics who can help them develop their products and services, our Business Engagement executives are also able to advise businesses on a range of funding opportunities, notably the Innovation Voucher Scheme which provides businesses with funding of £5,000 – £20,000 to offset the costs of their project. Since the scheme was created in 2009 more than £4.5m has been distributed to encourage and support business and academic collaborations.”
Interface works throughout Scotland, connecting organisations of all sizes and from all sectors to the right academic expertise which enables them to increase R&D activity, which, in turn, leads to the creation and development of new products, services and processes.
This free service has connected almost 1,800 businesses to Scottish academia, helping them to become more competitive and enabling them to increase their profits, maximise their export potential and ultimately become more sustainable.
1 In 2013 Interface carried out a survey of 142 companies which had worked with universities and research institutes.
Annandale Distillery Company Ltd – Dumfries and Galloway
Loadfast Systems Ltd – Perthshire
Tsarina Imperial Dacha – Ayrshire
Trellis – Perthshire