Finalists - The Glasgow School of Art image

The University of St Andrews, Edinburgh Napier University and The Glasgow School of Art have been named as finalists in a digital competition launched by VisitScotland, Scotland’s national tourism organisation.

Teams from the three universities submitted creative proposals centred on the development of an interactive and innovative digital product designed to showcase Scotland’s places of interest and inspire visits to Scotland during the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.

The competition which aims to celebrate the expertise, skills and knowledge of Scotland’s academic institutions is a brand new product development approach for Scotland’s national tourism organisation. The project was developed in collaboration with Interface, which connects organisations to academic expertise for research and development leading to new products, services and processes.

Competition finalists were selected by a panel of judges including Dr Jamie Coleman - Managing Director of CodeBase, Clive Gillman - Director of Creative Industries at Creative Scotland and Suzanne Dawson - Head of Sector Relationships at Interface.  The judges evaluated the entries based on criteria including the interpretation of the brief, clarity of content strategy and product innovation.

Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said:

“The 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design carries forward the momentum from last year’s celebration of food and drink and demonstrates Scotland’s credentials as an innovation nation -  showing that our creative, modern and inventive past, present and future can continue to inspire and influence audiences across the globe."

"This innovative marketing competition links two of the Year’s themes –  innovation and design – with young designers across Scotland, challenging them to create an interactive digital product which will motivate people to visit Scotland. I would like to congratulate the three finalists for reaching this stage of the competition and I look forward to seeing how the winning entry will develop into an exciting digital product that will inspire visitors for years to come.”

Charles Smith, Director of Marketing at VisitScotland said:

“This is a brand new collaborative approach for VisitScotland and it has been a really exciting process from initiation to working with the finalists across the three teams as part of the mentoring process. The support from Interface, the mentors and the judges has been central to the success of the project, but ultimately it is about celebrating the expertise, knowledge, ideas and talent of the academic teams.”

Suzanne Dawson, Head of Sector Relationships at Interface, and a competition judge, said:

“The VisitScotland competition has been a fantastic way of highlighting how Scotland’s top academic expertise can help turn an idea into an exciting reality."

"I’ve been impressed by the proposals, which provide creative solutions aimed at attracting international and domestic tourists to Scotland. I am sure that the competition will inspire those working in the tourism sector, from the largest visitor attraction to the smallest B&B, to think about how working with academics could help grow their business."

"This is a great example to show how universities and research institutions are paving the way for new developments in all sectors.”

Professor David Benyon, Director of the Centre for Interaction Design in Edinburgh Napier’s School of Computing, said:

“It has been a great boost for the students to work on a real commercial brief as part of their studies."

"They have been able to apply the techniques taught in class and see how well they work in real life, and it is pleasing to see their efforts and enthusiasm rewarded with a place in the final three.”

Dr Alan Miller of the University of St Andrews’ School of Computer Science said:

“We are so excited to be in the final. It would be fabulous to work with VisitScotland to create our proposed ‘Taste From Afar’ collection of immersive tours. It has been a joy to participate in the competition and we have learned so much from our mentors.”

Dr Stuart Jeffrey, Research Fellow in International Heritage Visualisation at The Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design (DDS) said:

“Our Heritage Visualisation MSc students are delighted to have been short listed for the VisitScotland Digital competition for the year of Innovation, Architecture and Design."

"The DDS has extensive previous experience in research projects in the heritage sector, from The Scottish Ten - large scale recording of World Heritage Sites with Historic Environment Scotland - to co-production of heritage data with community groups and mobile application development for tourists."

"The students leading the competition entry are excited to have the opportunity to work so closely with visitor and digital industry professionals and are enthusiastic about the impact their competition idea could have on the visitor experience in Scotland in this important year.”

As part of the competition process, the finalists have been awarded a mentoring session with leading games industry representative Michael Boniface, Managing Director of Reloaded Productions Ltd and Charles Smith, Director of Marketing at VisitScotland. The one-to-one sessions focus on nurturing and developing each idea further to ensure readiness for market delivery.

All three teams will now go forward to present their final product idea to a panel of judges, with the winning team securing a £16,000 prize fund towards their professional development. In the final stage of the competition, the winning team will be matched with a digital agency to develop their concept through to completion.

The competition winner will be announced at a later date.


For further information contact:

Chelsea Charles
Special Projects Communications Manager
Tel: 0131 472 2067



Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

  • 2016 will shine a spotlight on Scotland’s achievements in innovation, architecture and design through a wide-ranging, variety of new and existing activity.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design begins on 1 January 2016 and ends on 31 December 2016 and will build on the momentum generated by the 2015 Year of Food and Drink as well as previous years including Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland’s position as an “innovation nation”, its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Scottish Government, Creative Scotland, Architecture + Design Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate
  • Join the conversation at #IAD2016
  • Events can join the 2016 Year of Architecture, Design and Innovation partner programme   


Interface works with businesses and organisations of all sizes, from all sectors and throughout Scotland, connecting them  to the right academic expertise leading to the creation and development of new products, services and processes. This free and impartial matching service has introduced more than 2,000 businesses to experts in Scottish universities and research institutions helping them to become more competitive and enabling them to increase their profits, maximise their export potential and ultimately become more sustainable.

Edinburgh Napier University

Edinburgh Napier has around 18,000 students from more than 115 countries. It is among the best universities in the UK for graduate employability

The University of St Andrews

Founded in the 15th century, St Andrews is Scotland’s first university and the third oldest in the English speaking world. Teaching began in the community of St Andrews on the east coast of Scotland in 1410 and the University was formally constituted by the issue of Papal Bull in 1413.

The university is now one of Europe’s most research intensive seats of learning – over a quarter of its turnover comes from research grants and contracts. It is one of the top rated universities in Europe for research, teaching quality and student satisfaction and is consistently ranked among the UK’s top five in leading independent league tables.

Its international reputation for delivering high quality teaching and research and student satisfaction make it one of the most sought after destinations for prospective students from the UK, Europe and overseas. It is Scotland’s most international university – a third of the student body of 7,800 is from overseas.

The Digital Design Studio at The Glasgow School of Art

The DDS currently specialises in postgraduate teaching and research. It has been a leader in research and development within the field of high-end 3D simulation and visualisation since 1997.Working with EU and UK Research Councils, Government departments and blue-chip companies, the DDS has created advanced visualisation products in various industries including the automotive, built environment, defence, shipbuilding and medical sectors. The DDS has a strong background in the medical visualisation sector, and has produced 3D digital models of selected anatomy to support activities such as pre-operative planning, risk reduction, surgical simulation and increased patient safety.

The DDS is a partner in the CCDV (with Historic Environment Scotland and CyArk) which has delivered the admired Scottish 10  - 3D visualisations of five of Scotland’s UNESO World Heritage sites and five international heritage sites to foster global collaboration and build lasting partnerships based on cultural connections.  It is currently creating 3D models of Scotland’s most recent UNESO World Heritage site, the Forth Bridge. The DDS also created the award-winning 3D visualisations and soundscapes for the state of the art digital battle scenes as part of the transformation of visitor facility to mark the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn in 2014.

The DDS is in the forefront of sound for the moving image having won many international awards for its collaborations with film and TV production companies, most recently Written by Mrs Bach which won a New York Festivals Award.