Launch of the first Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards

Interface is delighted to launch Scotland’s first awards to celebrate innovation from business and academic partnerships.

The Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards on 25 February 2016 will recognise, reward and celebrate the achievements that are being made through business and academic collaborations and form a key component of the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.

Knowledge exchange is the term used when businesses work with academia to exchange ideas, evidence and expertise. These partnerships lead to significant benefits including the creation and development of products, processes and services which have a huge impact on improving Scotland’s GVA and stimulating employment. Interface is the only organisation in the UK that works on behalf of all universities and research institutions in Scotland to create these partnerships.

Siobhán Jordan, Director of Interface, said:

“This year Interface celebrates our 10th Anniversary and in that time we’ve helped more than 1,500 SMEs to become more innovative by working with Scotland’s world class academic expertise allowing them to break into new markets, increase their profits and deliver economic impact throughout Scottish communities.

“These unique collaborations create a dynamic environment where businesses and academics learn from each other – it’s a win-win situation.

“To celebrate these partnerships, and to recognise all of the impacts that are being delivered by our universities and research institutions, we wanted to create a unique event in Scotland.

“It’s not just about celebrating our current successes; it’s also about inspiring entrepreneurs and businesses from across the globe and encouraging them to turn to Scotland’s world leading academic expertise when they look to develop their next idea.”

From developing life-changing medical breakthroughs to testing recipes and validating early stage ideas through demonstrators, Scotland’s universities and research institutions are helping thousands of businesses each year.

Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland said:

“The Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards will be a timely and fitting platform to recognise the significant role that every one of Scotland’s 19 higher education institutions plays in creating new businesses, encouraging innovation and academic-business collaboration, as well as forging links which are vital in supporting Scotland’s business base.

“Scotland’s universities successfully engage with around 20,000 Scottish businesses on research and innovation every year within each of Scotland’s’ key sectors, partnering with them to develop new knowledge and create ideas which will deliver a positive economic outcome. 

“In the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, I am confident there will be a strong suite of entries from every university in Scotland and sure that the winners will do Scotland proud.”

Interface, supported by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands enterprise and European Regional development funding, work with businesses to find the most suitable academic partner for any number of business challenges. Their free and impartial service, added to 10 years of experience, has allowed them to develop established contacts within each of Scotland’s 23 universities and research institutions. This saves businesses time and money in finding an academic partner.

Laurence Howells, Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said:

“From helping companies develop speciality diabetic chocolates to mountain biking technology and smartphone tour guide apps of tourist attractions, our Innovation Vouchers have had a huge impact on sparking small business innovation, supporting an estimated 350 jobs and generating £17 million per year in economic growth.”

Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, said:

“Our vision is to make Scotland a world-leading entrepreneurial and innovative nation. That’s why innovation is at the heart of our Government Economic Strategy to drive long term competitiveness, boost productivity and increase sustainable economic growth.

“There is huge potential for industry to benefit from our universities, who are internationally renowned for their research excellence and respected for their innovative and collaborative approach. Research helps drive innovation and we are increasing our investment in Interface to capitalise on the collaborations between business and academia. The Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards are a great idea to celebrate these partnerships and achievements.”

Interface is calling for entries for the Innovation of the Year Award, for the development of an innovative product, process or service; the Sustained Partnership of the Year Award,  for a collaboration that has demonstrated a long term partnership; the Outstanding Contribution to Knowledge Exchange Award, recognising an individual who has played a pivotal role in the knowledge exchange within Scotland; the Multi-Collaborative Project Award, for groups of companies who are working with academia for mutual benefit and the newly created Building Skills Through Knowledge Exchange Award which recognises Postgraduates or Knowledge Transfer Partnership Associates who have worked within a business to increase innovation.

The deadline for entries is Friday 11th December 2015.

For more information on the awards, to apply and reserve your place visit

About Interface

Interface is a central hub connecting businesses from a wide variety of national and international industries to Scotland’s 23 higher education and research institutes.  It is a unique service designed to address the growing demand from organisations wanting to engage with academia.

Funded by the Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and European Regional Development Fund, 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 helps companies operating across a range of sectors, from food and drink to financial services, offering huge benefits for both businesses and academia.

About the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards

The Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards are an extension of the previous Interface Excellence Awards and are unique in that they are the first awards to celebrate all  projects and partnerships that are created by all Scottish higher education and research institutions.

8 October 2015