Category Archives: Engineering

The sky’s the limit

Prof Andrew RaeBy Professor Andrew Rae
Professor of Engineering at the University of the Highlands and Islands

When I was about eight years old, I came to understand that being Batman was not an achievable career choice. It was a sad day for me, but this ‘Road to Damascus’ moment (or perhaps, more properly, this ‘Road to Gotham’ moment) had a silver lining. I was (and still am) a complete aviation anorak so I settled on the thought that I’d like to design aeroplanes for a living. (When I was eight, Batman was not the dark knight of the modern blockbusters, but the somewhat more cringe-worthy “Biff!”, “Bam!” and “Kapow!” of the recently departed Adam West, so I think I made the right choice.)  Continue reading

A novel forecasting tool for Engineering resource planning


LauraKreiling-webBy Laura Kreiling, KTP Associate with Alexander Dennis Limited in partnership with University of Strathclyde, and winner of the Building Skills Award in the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards

In my Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project, cutting-edge engineering management research from Strathclyde University was transferred to Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL), the UK’s biggest bus manufacturer. Continue reading

Venturefest Scotland 2015: An Innovation Summit for Scotland


By Dr Susie Mitchell, Programme Director, Glasgow City of Science 

250 years ago in 1765 James Watt, as he strolled on Glasgow Green, conceived an idea that would change the modern world as we know it. Watt, an engineer from Greenock, would introduce improvements to the steam engine which would kick start the industrial revolution. Continue reading

From Small CeeDs Great Things Can Grow

By bringing together the best of academic and industrial organisations, The Centre for Engineering, Education & Development (CeeD) – a not for profit business – facilitates knowledge sharing to drive best practice and ultimately improve the bottom line performance of our businesses.  We do this through our clinic programs, open meetings, discussion forums, and more recently aided by social media.

Continue reading

Innovation Engineers Growth

Sample-imageA recent report by Nesta, the UKs innovation foundation, shows that, ‘innovation is the most important driver of long-term productivity and prosperity and that innovative businesses create more jobs and grow faster.’ (click here to see the Nesta Plan1 Executive Summary)

However, according to The Office for National Statistics Business and Enterprise Research and Development (BERD) figures, Scottish industry underperforms the UK and other comparable countries in innovation.

Region BERD % of GDP




OECD average








On a positive note, Scottish Government sees innovation as a key driver for economic prosperity and has recently announced a new £20 million Business Innovation & Growth programme to encourage more businesses to take advantage of the opportunities associated with Research and Development (R&D).

This type of investment will only have positive ramifications for Scotland. The Engineering and Technology sector, for example, invested approximately £350M on R&D in 2011, about 1.6% of turnover, the highest figure for nearly 10 years.

Unsurprisingly GVA figures for the same period show a significant increase; even Electronics, which showed the biggest decline in 2008- 2010, has stabilised and is now showing signs of upward growth.

However only 8% of R&D investment is made by independent SMEs; with 8,480 registered enterprises in this sector, employing 52% of staff and contributing 42% of combined turnover; SMEs form a significant portion of businesses within the Engineering and Technology sector highlighting a sizable gap in innovative investment that could lead to further growth.

Interface – The knowledge connection for business, is on hand to bridge this gap. With connections to all of Scotland’s 24 Universities and Research Institutions, and with staff on the ground from the Borders to the Highlands and Islands, Interface provides access to unique R&D opportunities for businesses across Scotland.

Interface can source expertise relevant to your requirements including:

• Research and technology capabilities

• Specialist expertise

• Feasibility studies

• Access to equipment and facilities

• Consultancy

• Student based assignments

• Contract research

• Industrial placements

• Funding options to offset the cost of the collaboration

For more information on Interface and how you can take advantage of the benefits of academic led R&D contact us – we can help.

Engineering success




By Louise Arnold

As August comes to a close, we say goodbye to the distractions of the Olympics, the Edinburgh Festival and sadly holidays! As businesses come back after the summer, then there is no better time to refocus and why not take the opportunity to come and hear how Interface can help your businesses ‘Profiting through collaboration’. Come and join the team at our event at Marischal College in Aberdeen on 7th September.

If you can’t make it to Aberdeen, pop into our 1:1 innovation clinics at the recently opened Fife Renewables Innovation Centre in partnership with Fife Council.

We also bring to a close our fifth special focus campaigns in 2012, which comes to an end this month, our focus on the Manufacturing/Engineering sector has generated great interest in working with academia from companies operating across a range of different sectors seeking engineering expertise. If you are interested in finding out more then please don’t hesitate to contact the team or our resident expert Dr Alan Feighery.

We are also very pleased to introduce our guest blogger Ian McMahon, Head of Engineering and Aerospace, Defence & Marine at Scottish Enterprise.





Scottish Enterprise – A new focus on Technology and Engineering

By Ian McMahon, Head of Engineering and Aerospace, Defence & Marine, Scottish Enterprise.

Interface’s current special focus campaign on the Manufacturing/Engineering sector comes at an opportune time as it coincides and indeed underscores the new approach that Scottish Enterprise (SE) has developed towards helping to further the interests of Scotland’s Technology and Engineering (TAE) sector. Scotland has considerable assets and capabilities in the TAE sector in both its company base and its universities – as well as globally-recognised manufacturing and engineering companies serving a wide range of market areas. It’s a company base that includes both indigenous companies and significant, and in many cases, long term inward investors, and ranges in scale from global players to SMEs.

Technology and Engineering are key drivers of the Scottish economy. The sector encompasses traditional engineering, electronics and software development and employs nearly 150,000 people, contributing over £10 billion a year to Scotland’s economy. Technology and engineering companies have a strong international outlook, exporting around £5 billion of high quality products and services to global markets each year. In addition, engineering technology provides the foundation for the success for several other sectors, including energy, construction, manufacturing, aerospace, defence, marine and many others, where thousands of skilled engineers and technicians are employed. Even sectors such as finance and business services increasingly rely on the skills of software engineers and IT technicians to develop their businesses. Innovation, research and development and investment in talent and infrastructure will be essential to securing long term business opportunities for Scotland and will be just some of the areas in which SE will continue to invest in support of the sector.

The recent SE re-focus on the wider TAE sector, brings together its specialist knowledge and resources in the strongly engineering-centric areas of Aerospace, Defence & Marine with its Enabling Technologies work, to create a new Technology and Engineering sector team. The team’s role will be to understand, support and strengthen Scotland’s technology and engineering industries and the economic environment in which they operate.

The refocus is aimed at supporting not only the economic contribution of the sector in its own right, but to strengthen its contribution to the other industry sectors that it serves. It’s a multi-layered approach to support, delivered not on a stand-alone basis by the sector team, but in conjunction with SE’s various specialists in areas such as R&D funding, investment, innovation and organisational development, as well as the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service and Scottish Development International. Equally vital to success are the involvement and engagement of major partners such as the Scottish Government itself, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, the Scottish Funding Council, relevant trade bodies and other significant stakeholders. Overall, the key aim is to further increase the contribution of the Technology and Engineering to Scotland’s economic growth and its drive towards a low carbon economy.

The new sector approach will benefit from the strong inputs from industry that will be provided by a newly formed Technology Advisory Group and a new Scottish Aerospace, Defence and Marine Industry Leadership Group. Scotland’s industry leadership groups have a crucial role in shaping and delivering Scotland’s economic ambitions. They are pivotal to fostering deeper collaboration between Government and industry; and in helping to both develop and to deliver industry-led sector strategies. Such groups already make a significant contribution, with the approach being identified by the EU as leading-edge international best practice – giving Scotland a competitive advantage. The refreshed guidance for such groups, provided following a major Scottish Government 2011 review of the industry advisory groups that had been in operation up till then, is an endorsement of the importance of that industry involvement in the development of Government policies and strategies that are designed to support the delivery of enhanced economic outcomes for the Scottish economy.

Engineering in Scotland has a bright future. The private and public sectors and academia need to work hard to ensure that it achieves its true potential.