Now in its 6th year, The Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards recognise, reward and celebrate the impacts achieved through academic and business partnerships.

It was a fantastic return for the region, as the regional universities show Scotland how innovative research institutes are leading the way towards economic growth, societal improvements and environmental advances and further positioning Scotland as a CAN DO nation.

Innovator of the future award for UWS associate

An academic who helped develop an ultra-light, next-generation wheelchair was recognised at the prestigious national awards ceremony.

University of the West of Scotland’s (UWS) Dr Jakub Rycerz has been named Innovator of the Future for his collaborative work with Phoenix Instinct Ltd – creating a SMART, light-weight carbon fibre wheelchair frame.

Dr Rycerz has been working with Forres-based Phoenix Instinct since 2019 through Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) programme as a KTP Associate.

KTPs link businesses to world-class academic partners in the UK to drive innovation through collaboration, bring about change and embed new knowledge, skills and capability. Projects address a specific business need, which is identified by the company, with the academic partner employing a recent graduate as a KTP Associate, working full-time on the project.

Dr Rycerz’s work has influenced the design and development of Phoenix Instinct’s i wheelchair, one of the lightest on the market. Embedded within the frame are novel, patent-pending features of intelligent centre of gravity and power assist. The chairs are bespoke and manufactured in-house at low cost, thanks to development of a proprietary manufacturing method as part of the KTP.

Dr Rycerz said of his win: “It is an incredible opportunity to be working on a product that can improve the lives of wheelchair users worldwide. I believe that me winning the Innovator of the Future award speaks to the quality of the project as a whole and is a recognition of the great work and innovation the team at Phoenix Instinct has achieved.”

University of Strathclyde scored a double success

Professor Malcolm Macdonald was named Knowledge Exchange Champion, while the University was part of an innovative project to develop a pill for early diagnosis of bowel cancer symptoms which won the Multiparty Collaboration award.

Professor Macdonald is instrumental in the development of Scotland’s space sector and his work as Director of the Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications (SoXSA) from 2014-2020 supported the creation of 16 new companies. His media work has also promoted Scotland on the global stage.

Professor Macdonald, who co-leads the Space Technology Cluster as part of the Glasgow City Innovation District, said:

“I want to thank everyone I’ve worked with over the last decade, it’s their work and effort that has got me this prize, from my Strathclyde and SoXSA colleagues to my various great collaborators in industry.” 

Multiparty Collaboration

The Scottish Capsule Programme (SCOTCAP) – a multiparty collaboration between Digital Health & Care Innovation Centre, Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, NHS National Services Scotland, NHS Highland, NHS Tayside, NHS Grampian, NHS Western Isles, Medtronic plc, Corporate Health International UK Ltd, Bowel Cancer Scotland, University of Aberdeen and University of Strathclyde also took home an award.

The collaboration was tasked to co-design, deliver and evaluate the use of a minimally invasive “Pillcam” containing a digital camera as a viable, safe, and cost-effective alternative to colonoscopy for early diagnostic testing for Bowel cancer symptoms.  

University of Glasgow  and partners COVID-19 response

The University of Glasgow-hosted Lighthouse Lab COVID-19 testing facility won an award for best COVID-19 Collaborative Response. 

The Lighthouse Laboratory in Glasgow, hosted by University of Glasgow at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Campus, is a major COVID-19 testing facility established with BioAscent Ltd and the University of Dundee, and subsequently developed and managed by the University of Glasgow in collaboration with high-throughput industry experts BioClavis Ltd.

One of the largest academic-run diagnostic facilities in the world, the laboratory has recently reached the 10 million COVID-19 test milestone. 

Dr Carol Clugston, Dean of Corporate Engagement & Innovation and COO of the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, said: “Winning at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards is fantastic recognition or all our partners, who have worked together seamlessly over the past year with a shared vision to support our NHS.

A full list of winners can be found here.