The Innovation of the Year was awarded to a family-owned business, Norscot Joinery Ltd., in Caithness, which builds kit homes. The company partnered with University of Strathclyde to research and develop virtual reality show home software combining advanced interactive visualisation of buildings with Building Information Modelling (BIM) data for the first time. It will allow clients to immerse themselves in a house before it is built, and interact with the design process, providing a better understanding of cost impacts of design changes.

The other winners were:

Building Skills through Knowledge Exchange

Petra Crocker, KTP Associate from Edinburgh Napier University, worked with Multiply UK Ltd in Edinburgh to create a real-time digital consumer tool to drive both the expansion and reputation of the company as industry experts in planning and insight.

Social and Environmental Impact

Moock Environmental Solutions Ltd (Cumbernauld) and University of Dundee for a project to recycle print toner powder by making it soluble for use in the art and building industries, and animal medical treatments, through the potential to waterproof material. The company and university also received a year-long membership from SCI, where science meets business, who sponsored the category.

A Special Commendation was awarded to Leuchie House (North Berwick), a charity which provides short break respite care to people living with a long-term condition, and Queen Margaret University, for researching and developing an outreach respite support and care service which could be licensed to other healthcare providers.

Multiparty Collaboration

European Lead Factory: University of Dundee European Screening Centre Newhouse, BioAscent Discovery, Pivot Park Screening Centre, Lygature, the University of Oxford and 30 private and public partners across Europe for providing access to High-Throughput Screening to test medicinal compounds leading to the creation of new medicines.

A Special Commendation was awarded to AALART – Low-pixel Automatic Target Detection and Recognition: Thales UK, University of the West of Scotland and CENSIS Innovation Centre for developing unique technology enabling automatic detection of humans and vehicles from up to 1500m using thermal imaging.

Outstanding Contribution to Knowledge Exchange

Professor Bill Buchanan, Professor in the School of Computing, Edinburgh Napier University. Bill leads knowledge exchange through many collaborative projects and industry-led events and engagements which have contributed greatly to growing a thriving Scottish cyber security community, leading to improvements in business resilience and incident response, and to innovations and real patient impact in health and social care. He received an OBE in 2017 for Services to Cyber Security, has co-created three successful spin-out companies, established an innovative Cloud training infrastructure in security and digital forensics, and is driving the building of a cyber security training centre, accessible online and on campus.

The annual awards, run by Interface, celebrate the impacts achieved through business-academic partnerships. This year’s event was attended by 300 people at Royal Bank of Scotland Conference Centre in Edinburgh. Speakers included Steve Stewart from the award winning independent craft brewery Stewart Brewing and Professor Eleanor Shaw, Hunter Centre of Entrepreneurship, University of Strathclyde, Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, as well as Innovation Sessions hosted by business people and academics who shared their experiences and insights into working together.

Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse said: “My congratulations to all those who have had their outstanding work recognised, in being nominated for a Scottish Knowledge Exchange Award.

“The awards are a showcase for some of the best examples we have in Scotland of what can be achieved when business and academia work together towards a common goal.

“Scotland has a growing reputation as a place where excellence is achieved through innovation. The ongoing exchange of knowledge is a crucial element of that.”

Dr Siobhán Jordan, Director of Interface, said: “The sheer diversity of business-academic partnerships in this year’s awards is impressive and testament to innovation thriving in the business-academic community. The winners have great potential to impact on society, the environment and the economy, whilst many of the partnerships demonstrate a variety of unexpected collaborations, for example, matching a joinery company with virtual reality experts.”