The Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards winners

A Scottish cybersecurity start-up which partnered with university academics to create a world-first in online security has won the Innovation of the Year at the inaugural Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards today (Thursday, 25 February).

Payfont and Edinburgh Napier University created a 100% secure cloud-based architecture which is already receiving international attention.

The technology, which is patent pending, fragments business and personal data and puts it out of context, even when it is “at rest”, rendering it meaningless to outsiders.

The judges noted the significant market opportunities and potential for this type of cyber security software highlighting the innovative approach of the product in a competitive, global market. They were also impressed by the amount of international interest in Payfont in particular from financial services and healthcare markets and that the company had created 14 jobs in a short space of time.

Margaret Burgess MSP, Minister for Housing and Welfare, presented the award to Payfont alongside the winners in four further categories in the first national celebration of its kind marking successful business-academic partnerships.

The other winners were:

Building Skills Award - 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:

Laura Kreiling, a KTP Associate from University of Strathclyde, who undertook a 24-month long project to significantly improve engineering resource estimation at Alexander Dennis Ltd, the UK's leading bus and coach manufacturer.

Sustained Partnership - for a partnership that has demonstrated long term benefits to both the business and the academic teams:

The partnership between Glasgow-based solar thermal business Soltropy and Heriot-Watt University, which started in 2013, has led to the development of a mass produced, easy to handle, modular solar thermal panel aimed at the UK and European markets. 

Multi–Party 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:

The judges were very impressed by the quality of applications from all entrants but felt that there were two distinct winners in this category.

They were:

Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre (SMS-IC) led by University of Glasgow which capitalises on the significant investment made in Scotland in electronic health records and translational medicine research, which, coupled with a vibrant healthcare technology industry, positions Scotland as an ideal location to deliver the right treatment to the right patient at the right time through stratified medicine.

The second winner was University of Strathclyde's Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC) for its Low Carbon Power and Energy Programme, which generated projects worth £2.58m.

Outstanding Contribution to Knowledge Exchange Award, recognising an individual who has played a pivotal role in knowledge exchange in Scotland:

Professor Steve Beaumont has been an ambassador for knowledge exchange and enterprise throughout his career, which spans academic and business achievements.

Former Vice-Principal for Research & Enterprise at University of Glasgow, Professor Beaumont's commitment to the enterprise agenda led to the foundation of Kelvin Nanotechnology Ltd and Compound Semiconductor Technology Ltd.

He also created the Glasgow Knowledge Exchange Fund, which aims to encourage and facilitate knowledge exchange activities across the University of Glasgow.

After leaving the position of Vice-Principal in 2013, Steve continues to support world-leading collaborative research in intelligent sensor networks and systems and is the academic lead for CENSIS, the Innovation Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems.

The judges noted Professor Beaumont's outstanding track record and selflessness throughout his career in supporting entrepreneurship and innovation.

Interface Director Siobhán Jordan, said:

"We are thrilled at the success of the first Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards - from the high number and calibre of entries to the diversity of innovative projects. The awards are proof that partnerships between business and organisations and academics right across Scotland are flourishing."

Margaret Burgess also announced the launch of Interface’s new online platform, Specialist Facilities, which details a range of university facilities and equipment that is available for hire by businesses to support their commercial research and development activities.

Housing and Welfare Minister Margaret Burgess said: 

“I’m delighted to launch Interface’s new online Specialist Facilities platform that will help companies across all sectors to create, develop, test and analyse their products and ideas.

“I would like to congratulate all the participants and winners who have been recognised for their innovative work at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards. This award ceremony recognises the successes of recent business and academic collaborations and acknowledges the ingenuity, industry and creativity that is vital to the success of knowledge transfer activities. These projects are crucial for sustainable economic growth, and essential for improving productivity, competitiveness and growth in Scotland.

“The Scottish Government is committed to investing in the development and application of research, innovation and technology and supporting entrepreneurial activity which all play an important part in shaping Scotland’s future.”

Notes to editors:

Photographs of the winners will be available after the awards ceremony which ends at 17.00hrs on Thursday 25th February. General photos of the event will be available earlier, on request.

A special award was made to Fife-based pre-prepared fruit and vegetable wholesaler Ivan Wood & Sons Ltd, shortlisted in the Innovation of the Year category, which gives them free membership of the SCI – the society where science meets business – for one year. This will enable the company to connect with, and influence, a UK network of organisations and individuals involved in research, product development, manufacture, IP protection and technology management.

Background on the winners of the Multi–Party Collaboration Award

Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre [SMS-IC] is one of 8 Innovation Centres established in 2012/13 by the Scottish Funding Council as a world-class centre for providing commercial delivery of stratified medicine capabilities. The Centre operates as a 10-member consortium involving Thermo Fisher Scientific, Aridhia, University of Glasgow, University of Edinburgh, University of Aberdeen, University of Dundee, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Lothian, NHS Tayside and NHS Grampian.

Partnering with top industrial scientists at Thermo Fisher Scientific enabled SMS-IC to create and install a £4m genetics lab using their expert knowledge of molecular biology and DNA sequencing. Meanwhile, partnering with big data experts from Aridhia led to the creation of a £2m datacentre.

University of Strathclyde, Scottish Power Renewables and Scottish and Southern Energy worked together to identity and undertake projects in low carbon power and energy research, delivered at the University’s Technology & Innovation Centre of excellence in facilitating innovation.

The collaboration has led to the development and delivery a three-year core research programme. Phase 1 activity included 13 collaborative research projects, mainly in wind energy, worth £2.58m.

Knowledge exchange

Knowledge exchange is a sharing of expertise, ideas and evidence between businesses and universities. The businesses learn from the academic input, but equally the universities can really grow from their experience of working with businesses and organisations.

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.

The Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards are the first awards to celebrate all projects and partnerships that are created by all Scottish higher education and research institutions.

About Interface

Interface is a central contact connecting businesses from all sectors 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 Structural Funds, Interface is a free and impartial service which aims to stimulate demand for innovation, encouraging companies to consider academic support to help solve business challenges.

For media enquiries please contact:

Suzy Powell, Interface PR and Communications Executive

Tel/text: 07711 273007