Cathy Higginson joined Interface recently as Business Engagement Executive for Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire while Gillian heads on maternity leave. Having worked for an enterprise agency, and established two companies of her own, she knows about the challenges faced by SMEs and the opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to develop ideas.
We put a few questions to Cathy to find out a bit more about her.
When did you start at Interface and what’s your background?
I joined Interface in June 2021 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise. I have a varied background, working in research and NHS public health before founding a couple of small businesses and then moving into enterprise support.
What attracted you to the position?
The blend of supporting businesses and helping them access the expertise in Scotland’s world-class universities and research institutions.
What does your role incorporate?
It’s a mix of meeting businesses, helping them identify projects where academic expertise would be of value, pitching those projects to universities and sorting out all the admin that goes alongside. Interface has introduced over 3500 businesses to academic institutions. That’s a lot!
What does a typical day look like?
It includes a mix of calls with clients and intermediaries – including Business Gateway, Scottish Enterprise and Barclays Eagle Lab - working on project outlines, searching for relevant academic expertise and keeping in touch with my contacts in our network of academic points of contact across Scotland’s universities and colleges.
What do you like most about the role?
Helping businesses overcome challenges by connecting them with academic experts who can help. And hearing about the success they then go on to achieve through the partnerships!
What advice would you give businesses which want to collaborate with academic expertise?
Make sure you’ve thought carefully about your project and what you want to get out of the collaboration. This will help us find the best match. And be prepared to do your bit: don’t expect the academics to just go off and get on with it alone. This is a collaboration and both parties have a valuation contribution and part to play.
What three words sum you up?
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