The Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2018 collage photo

By Laura Goodfellow, Head of Business Engagement, Interface

It seems hard to believe that The Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards – our annual celebration of business-academic partnerships across all industry sectors and academic disciplines – took place almost a month ago.

With the awards now proudly displayed in businesses and universities around Scotland, from Caithness to Musselburgh, we have been able to reflect on a fantastic event which highlighted the importance of knowledge sharing far and wide.

The theme of this year’s awards was diversity to reflect the broad range of businesses and organisations who have forged productive partnerships from tapping into a range of academic disciplines.

Scotland is renowned for being a nation of discovery: it is in our DNA. From tarmacadam to the telephone, there is a long list of life-changing inventions which have delivered a global impact.

The Interface team was joined by some of the country’s most innovative companies, and their world-renowned academic partners at the event in February at Royal Bank of Scotland, Gogarburn. Bringing the right people and organisations together can create a powerful union and deliver major economic impacts: in fact, when businesses innovate they are twice as likely to scale and three times as likely to export.

Businesses can benefit from academic insights when developing products or improving processes and services – new partnerships can spark fresh ideas and solutions to persistent problems.

We have been connecting the worlds of business and academia since 2005, and in that time have supported the creation of thousands of successful partnerships. We light-heartedly refer to our team of business engagement staff as matchmakers: their knowledge of university capability and strong relationships within universities and research institutes enables them to find the right partners for businesses and organisations. Many of our matches have blossomed into long-term relationships which benefit both partners. For the business, this can be securing employment, expanding product ranges or exporting to new markets, and for the academic institution it can lead to new areas of research and trialling ideas in real-world scenarios. Often, much more can be achieved through collaborating than accomplished on our own.

The winners demonstrated just how diverse successful partnerships can be: academic solutions to business issues are not always found in the most obvious places.