By Suzanne Dawson, Head of Sector Relationships
Innovation is key to the success of Scottish businesses and to the wider Scottish economy.
Our ability to innovate provides a central plank of Scottish Government policy and as such they are keen to back a thriving innovation support network. But the way forward doesn’t just come from government agencies, but also through industry leadership.
Both the Innovation Centres and Interface support businesses to develop new products, processes and services - together we offer a complementary service. At Interface we have demonstrated how successful we are in delivering small scale projects. We encourage businesses to take that all important first step to innovation and growth. The focus for innovation centres, on the other hand, is on larger collaborations with the potential to attract additional public and private sector funding.
The eight Innovation Centres are industry led organisations which have been set up with the support of the Scottish Funding Council and the enterprise agencies in order to create a culture of innovation amongst Scottish businesses and through collaborative activity deliver economic and social impact. They have been backed by £120m funding over 5 years but fundamentally have been charged with developing creative academic to business partnerships which meet the needs of industry. They are not about blue sky thinking but about applying research to business challenges. Their primary purpose is to create growth within Scottish companies through innovation achieved by building bridges between businesses and academics.
There are examples where Innovation Centres breathe new life into sectors not traditionally associated with innovation, for example construction and oil & gas. There are those which are developing solutions which can be applied across all sectors – for example sensors and imaging and data science. New approaches to digital healthcare and precision medicine will be developed to help Scotland tackle the challenges of an increasingly stretched health economy. One of the innovation centres has been tasked to develop solutions to address the disease challenges of our aquaculture industry and another is focused on preserving and utilising our natural resources to help fuel our economy.
At Interface we recognise the opportunity the innovation centres offer our client businesses and we work closely with each of the centres to identify suitable project opportunities to build on existing relationships.
These are exciting times for business-academic partnerships with even more opportunities to take ideas forward, whether a small scale one-off project, or a longer-term collaboration which could really push the boundaries and keep Scotland’s vital industries ahead of the game.
For more information on each of Scotland's Innovation Centres please visit www.interface-online.org.uk/about-us/innovation-centres