Fourteen finalists for the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2017 have been announced.

The winners will be unveiled at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, 21 February, which will recognise, reward and celebrate the impacts achieved through collaborative business and academic partnerships.

The shortlisted finalists are:

Innovation of the Year

For the development of an innovative product, process or service that has been developed with a university or research institution, facilitated by Interface/Interface Food & Drink/Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher Funding Programme:

Bon Accord Soft Drinks

Bon Accord Soft Drinks, an iconic Scottish brand of the 20th century, based in Edinburgh, was relaunched in 2016 with the help of Abertay University. The academic team supported the company through new product development processes, consumer research and nutritional labelling to create a new range of naturally sweetened soft drinks which are now available to buy in supermarkets. A key result of the project was the development of innovative recipes for natural products that could be scaled up and produced in larger quantities.

Ivan Wood and Sons Ltd & Peel Tech Ltd

Ivan Wood and Sons Ltd., a wholesale merchant and fruit and vegetable processor for the catering industry, partnered with Abertay University to develop an affordable, compact starch filtration system to comply with new legislation that stops food and starch waste from vegetables being deposited in public drains. It is estimated the new product will have a huge impact on food preparation businesses, including fish and chip shops, wholesalers, restaurants and takeaways across the UK.

Building Skills through Knowledge Exchange

Recognising Postgraduate students or Knowledge Transfer Partnership [KTP] Associates who have worked within a business on a specific project to increase innovation within the company:

Dan Mulqueen

As part of the MSc Scholarship programme, through the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), Dan Mulqueen, a student on the University of Stirling’s Sustainable Aquaculture MSc programme, undertook a project with the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group (SSMG) to explore whether alternative methods of transporting live mussels to retail customers would extend the mussels’ shelf-life. Dan’s work provided a robust scientific basis and rationale for SSMG to change their packaging. Since implementing the changes SSMG have seen an increase of 50% in customer satisfaction leading to sales growth.

Hassan Al-Budairi 

Hassan Al-Budairi a KTP Associate from the University of Glasgow’s School of Engineering, undertook a project with QTS Ltd to develop an improved, efficient and cost-effective design for lightweight rockfall catch fences along train lines. The result of the project has reduced the cost of the raw materials, reduced the installation time of the fences and introduced a remote monitoring system to provide real-time notifications for rock falling events. 

Lee-Anne McGee

Lee-Anne McGee a KTP Associate from Abertay University, worked with Ivan Wood & Sons to redesign and validate their Peel Tech filtration system and reduce their waste materials. Lee-Anne’s work has already generated sales of Peel Tech with a promising pipeline of future sales. In addition Lee-Anne has implemented a Food Quality Management System (FQMS) which has resulted in significant savings to the annual wage bill and product packaging costs. Lee-Anne is now fully employed by Ivan Wood & Sons following the completion of the KTP. 

Sustained Partnership

For a partnership that has demonstrated long term benefits to both the business and the academic teams:

MacTaggart, Scott & Co. Ltd and Heriot Watt University

MacTaggart Scott and Heriot-Watt University have sustained a relationship since 2011 through numerous interactions which are still ongoing today. Starting with an Undergraduate Mechanical Engineering design project the collaboration has expanded to projects across electrical and mechanical engineering including a Knowledge Transfer Partnership project and studentships. Underpinning the partnership is a keen interest from the company in undergraduate employment. MacTaggart Scott have reflected their requirements from graduates through recommendations for teaching via their participation on the Heriot-Watt University Industrial advisory board in mechanical engineering.  

M Squared Lasers Ltd and University of St Andrews

M Squared Lasers Ltd and their collaboration with the University of St Andrews commenced in 2013 and is centred around the licensing of a broad portfolio of more than 100 patents of novel technologies that will enable innovative commercial applications in the health and biophotonics sectors. Within the next 5 years there are substantial projected revenues from the product line and the collaboration has led to new employment within M Squared Life. The partnership has rapidly developed from the initial license agreement towards a sustained symbiotic partnership with multiple research programmes, commercial interactions and knowledge transfer activities.

Vascutek Ltd and University of Strathclyde

Vascutek and the University of Strathclyde began their relationship in 2011 with a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) which has grown to funding new research through three PhDs and a second KTP which continues through until end of 2017. The knowledge exchange collaboration has focused on the development of finite element analysis (FEA) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling tools for Vascutek’s Endovascular stent graft product range. 

MultiParty Collaboration Award

Recognising groups and consortia across all industry sectors that demonstrate innovation and impact through working together while also having a significant benefit for each individual party:

Campbeltown Milk Quality Improvement Project

First Milk Ltd, the SRUC Dairy Research & Innovation Centre, Campbeltown Dairy Farmers and SAC Consulting initially came together to investigate why there was a lower cheese yield from Campbeltown creamery compared to other creameries across First Milk Ltd. The consortium developed an understanding of the relationship between milk quality and cheese yield and identified changes to individual farm practices to optimise milk quality. This led to a second project on the feeding of whey to dairy cows. This initiative reduced farmer feed costs, improved milk quality and in turn cheese yield and reduced the creamery whey haulage costs. Dairy farming and cheese production are major employers in Campbeltown and this project is part of a wider approach to maintain the viability of this industry which is key to the area.

Flow Assurance and Scale Team (FAST)

NALCO Champion, Shell and Heriot Watt University came together in 2015 to improve SQUEEZE, a game changing software technology used by the oil & gas industry to prevent scale from forming in wells. This collaboration sought to develop a methodology to optimise SQUEEZE automatically and roll this update out to users in the market. SQUEEZE software is used extensively in the North Sea and around the world and the new optimised design has already reduced well management costs by millions of dollars. The software development has been cross disciplinary involving mathematics, information technology, physics, chemistry, geology and petroleum engineering and has the potential to be one of the most revolutionary advances in scale management in the last decade. 

Mosaicing for Automated Pipe Scanning (MAPS)

The Mosaicing for Automated Pipe Scanning (MAPS) project brings together five organisations who were awarded Innovate UK funding in 2014 for a three year project. The project sought to solve an inspection problem for the nuclear industry by taking working prototypes of the MAPS technology from development to production. Normally trying to push new technology into established engineering can be slow however having end users National Nuclear Laboratory and Sellafield Ltd involved has generated a pull for the use of the device in every day operations. The results demonstrated by MAPS has supported the University of Strathclyde in establishing the Advanced Nuclear Research Centre, a £3.5M initiative to enhance research related into the safe running of nuclear facilities.  ​

Outstanding Contribution to Knowledge Exchange

Recognises an individual who has played a pivotal role in knowledge exchange in Scotland:

Professor Bill Buchanan

Professor Bill Buchanan has been extensively recognised for his wide and varied KE contributions in health, social care and cyber security have achieved significant economic impact, sustained existing jobs, created new employment and is enabling Scottish and UK academia beyond just Edinburgh Napier to produce new graduates with the skills required for a fast changing, critical field which transcends corporate and national security. His research has led to multiple patents all of which are presently being exploited commercially by spinout companies which have secured multiple private sector investments.​

Professor Lee Innes

Professor Lee Innes has built a career around knowledge exchange between scientific researchers and a broad range of stakeholders. Her work has driven translation of the research outputs from the Moredun Research Institute to ensure that new research findings are used effectively to improve livestock health and welfare and farm productivity. She has been instrumental in helping to grow the membership of the Moredun Foundation to more than 12,000 members. In 2016 professor Innes lead and developed a successful bid to create the Scottish Government Centre for Knowledge Exchange and Impact which works to increase the impact of research outputs from the £250M investment in research carried out at the major Scottish Research Institutes in the areas of agriculture, food and the environment.

Professor William Ion:

Professor William Ion has a long standing history being involved in knowledge exchange projects. In 2013 he was awarded UK KTP Academic Ambassador by the Technology Strategy Board to recognise his contribution to the KTP programme since 1995. In addition Professor Ion has worked closely with numerous stakeholders in his role to establish and grow the Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) and the UK High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC). These contributions have led to significant academic, economic, civic and societal benefits and impacts. 

Thank you to our judges; Stuart Fancey Scottish Funding Council, Donald MacRae Interface Strategic Board, Donna Chisholm Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Lucy-Rose Walker Entrepreneurial Spark, Olga Kozlova Converge Challenge, Ian McCoull Scottish Enterprise, Evelyn McDonald Scottish Edge, Jo Bradley Marks & Clerk LLP and Peter Ranscombe BQ Magazine.

All the shortlisted entries are invited to the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards at the Conference Centre RBS, Gogarburn, to find out if they will take home one of the coveted trophies.

Interface Director, Siobhán Jordan, said:

“The judges had some really tough decisions to make as the standard of entries was incredibly high. However, the finalists in each category had the edge with some outstanding collaborations, many of which have the potential to revolutionise an industry or several industries, change society or people’s lives or make a global impact far wider than Scotland’s shores.

“The Awards will be a day of recognising these exciting partnerships and for businesses and organisations that haven’t previously collaborated with academics, it is the perfect opportunity to hear from others at different stages of their journeys. The Awards show how knowledge exchange can support companies and academics in different ways, helping Scotland to be a world-leading entrepreneurial and enterprising nation.” 



Knowledge exchange is a sharing of expertise, ideas and evidence between businesses and universities or research institutions. The businesses learn from academic input, but equally the universities can benefit from their experience of working with businesses and organisations in helping them resolve real-life issues.

These partnerships bring significant benefits to the economy, society and higher education. Companies supported by Interface add an estimated £70million GVA into the economy each year through new services, processes or products, or efficiencies leading to cost savings.

About Interface

Funded by the Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Interface is a free and impartial service which aims to stimulate demand for innovation and encourage companies to consider academic support to help solve their business challenges.

Interface offers a unique service designed to address the growing demand from businesses and organisations in all sectors looking to partner with academia. Interface is the only organisation in the UK that works on behalf of all 23 universities and research institutions in Scotland to create these partnerships.