An old edition of Burns poetry on a table beside an old fashioned candle holder

By Laura Goodfellow, Interim Director, Interface

This year has been designated Year of Stories, and with that in mind, Interface has adopted the theme for this year’s Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards.

For among the many entries to this year’s awards, are stories of people championing the knowledge sharing which takes place between businesses and universities, sometimes without much fanfare.

And yet these projects are helping solve some of our biggest challenges – how to reduce environmental impact, COVID-19 recovery and growing Scotland’s economy inclusively.  

Twenty-four projects and people have reached the finals of the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2022 – and each one tells an impressive story.

From developments in satellite communications and telecommunications, to a portable dishwasher that cleans not only dishes but sanitises everyday items such as mobile phones and facemasks using UV light, the finalists are pushing boundaries and making life-enhancing breakthroughs across a number of industries - health, energy, food and drink, tourism and construction. It goes to show that innovation is possible in every industry and business, and that there is an academic to help with fresh thinking and expertise.

And that expertise can take many forms, from individual academics and small teams, right up to an international team of 42 researchers.

It is inspiring to hear about 3D printing of swabs in PCR testing, or mental health support services for frontline healthcare workers, as well as antiviral drug development in the response to COVID-19, and the partnership behind an initiative to provide meals to school children ensuring that they are properly nourished at the start of the school day.

Also recognised in the finalists line-up are individuals, from a world-leading scientist in diabetes and cardiovascular disease who champions women scientists, and who is an international keynote speaker and winner of public engagement awards, to our innovators of the future who are changing the business models in traditional manufacturing or making key developments in high-tech telecommunications production.

There are too many to mention here, however a full list is on our website here

Even if you are not nervously waiting to find out which projects and people win one of the much-coveted awards, we have a great line-up of speakers at the awards ceremony this year, which is free and online.

We are over the moon to welcome Will Whitehorn, Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University, who has great insights to both the academic world and business world. As President at Virgin Galactic and Richard Branson’s key spokesman for many years, will bring a few stories of his own business successes to the awards. From watching aircraft at Edinburgh Airport in his younger days, to advising the UK Government on space exploration, his career journey is certainly a stellar one.

We are delighted that Ivan McKee, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, will be delivering a message of support to the finalists and winners, underlining the importance of businesses and academics working together to achieve success.

Sharing their stories of joint ventures are some past winners, who we will be catching up with to find out how their collaborations are going and how winning an award as helped them, the business and the industry they work in.

At this stage, I’d like to acknowledge the contribution of our judging panels and for their considerable time input and remarks on the applications. We appreciate their efforts as these awards couldn’t happen without them.

I am delighted that the appetite from businesses partnering with academic partnerships shows no signs of decreasing; if anything, the last two years have brought more ideas to the fore and driven an upturn in the number of companies and organisations Interface has supported.

The Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2022 are on Thursday, 17 March, 3-4.30pm. Join us by registering here

Photo courtesy of VisitScotland/Kenny Lam