Applications were received across six categories for the awards, organised by Interface to recognise, reward and celebrate impacts achieved through collaborative business and academic partnerships.

Dr Siobhán Jordan, Interface director, said: “Business and academic partnerships can spark truly cutting-edge collaborative projects leading to significant innovation which can have a major impact on the economy and society.

“We are delighted to host these annual awards, which go from strength to strength, and allow us to showcase the most exciting and game changing research and development which is happening in Scotland today.”

The judges commented on the high calibre of applications – the finalists represent eight Scottish universities and more than 50 businesses.

Full list of finalists

Innovation of the Year

For an innovative product, process or service that has been developed over the past five years in conjunction with a university, research institute or further education college partner.

G-Hold, Edinburgh, and the University of the West of Scotland for product testing and proving ergonomic benefits for a patented handhold for iPads, tablets and other handheld devices.

RIGOCAL Engineering Ltd, Aberdeen, and University of Edinburgh for a marine mammal detection and protection service which combines machine learning with infrared and high definition sensors for use in energy, construction and offshore industries.

Touchless Innovation Ltd, Coatbridge, and Edinburgh Napier University for prototype development and testing of a new hygiene device to kill micro-organisms commonly found on hands including MRSA.

Making a difference

For a collaborative business-academic project that has produced significant social or environmental impacts that ultimately contribute towards a better, fairer and more sustainable future.

Scene Connect Ltd, Edinburgh, and Heriot-Watt University for creating a new software-hardware system, called Water-Hand, for farmers in India to control the volumes of water given to crops through irrigation schedules.

Dynamic Coast, a project led by Scottish Natural Heritage with the University of Glasgow, aimed at improving understanding of coastal planning through assessing changes over 130 years by quantifying, analysing and projecting past coastal changes forward into the future.

The Scottish Women’s Rights Centre, Glasgow, a unique collaborative project between JustRight Scotland, Rape Crisis Scotland and University of Strathclyde Law Clinic providing legal information, advice and representation to over 1,000 women affected by violence and abuse.

Knowledge exchange champion of the year

Recognising an individual in academia, business or a business support organisation who has made an outstanding contribution and played a pivotal role in the promotion of knowledge exchange and of business and academic partnerships within Scotland.

Professor David Flynn, Heriot-Watt University, has been an example to all academic staff over the last 10 years by his exceptional engagement with industry and delivery of knowledge exchange to a variety of companies. Professor Flynn’s research has supported the creation of academic publications, patents, new companies, global laboratories and strategic political and professional roadmaps. The impact of his contributions has led to significant inward and international investment into companies providing transformative capabilities to multinationals and SMEs.

Professor David Lane, Heriot-Watt University, is an international scientist, engineer, innovator and investor in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence. In his 35-year career David has established Heriot-Watt’s Ocean Systems Laboratory with an international reputation in marine robotics, publishing nearly 300 top-cited publications and co-ordinating major EU/EPSRC/MoD projects. In 2013-2014 David led the development of the UK’s Robotics2020 strategy resulting in over £550m investment including founding the £100m Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, a joint venture between Heriot-Watt and Edinburgh universities.

Professor Robert Hairstans, Edinburgh Napier University, is head of the Centre for Offsite Construction + Innovative Structures. Robert has championed change in the construction sector, innovation in the built environment and contributed to knowledge exchange for over 10 years. He actively supports knowledge exchange projects from grassroots level through to providing strategic insight to industry thought-leaders and leading the call for culture change within the construction sector.

Rising star of the year

For Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Associates, further education and higher education students or Postgraduate Students who have been hosted or sponsored by a business in conjunction with a Scottish university, research institute or college.

Keith Milne, KTP Associate from the University of Edinburgh, focussed on creating new products for Martec Engineering Group Ltd, Cambuslang, which produces numerous steel products including security and fire doors.

Dr Maizura Mokhtar, KTP Associate from Heriot-Watt University, undertook a project with Scottish Power Energy Networks to analyse the large amount of data available from nationwide smart meters and transform it into meaningful information to inform important network planning and operational decisions.

Sergi Arnau Almirall, KTP Association from the University of Aberdeen, collaborated with Aubin Ltd, Ellon, a chemical engineering specialist, to design, manufacture and test a scaled underwater crane model, enabling the subsequent construction of a full-size working demonstrator for subsea lifting.   

Multiparty collaboration

For groups and consortia involving three or more parties working together on an innovative research project and include a research partner from Scottish academia and at least one business.

Heriot-Watt University’s International Centre for Brewing & Distilling with the Scottish Distillers Association and five distilleries has developed a unique library of over 40 botanicals grown in Scotland for distillers to create new gins and botanical liqueurs and support export activity.

Hybrid Fusion Energy Systems with Heriot-Watt University, the High Speed Sustainable Manufacturing Institute, University of Southampton and three industry partners for a project to create and demonstrate a novel hybrid energy solution for maritime vessels, representing the next generation of performance and asset management in decarbonised transport.

Offshore Robotics for Certification of Assets, a consortium led by the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics (Heriot-Watt University and University of Edinburgh), four further academic partners and more than 30 industry and agency partners who are jointly developing and testing aerial, terrestrial and marine robotic systems and their remote human operator interfaces.

Powerful partnerships

For an academic – business collaboration that has demonstrated long term strategic partnering and the benefits to both the business and the academic teams achieved through knowledge exchange.

Compound Semiconductors Technologies Global Ltd, (CSTG), Glasgow, and the University of Glasgow. CSTG is a custom foundry service and manufacturer of high-volume, standard laser products for the optical communications markets. The partnership started in 2011 and has resulted in two Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, industrial PhD scholarships, new product lines for the telecommunication and data-communication markets, significant revenue generation and expansion into Asian markets. 

Geckotech Solutions Ltd, Edinburgh, and Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU). Starting in 2015 with a Knowledge Transfer Partnership, the success of this project prompted Geckotech, access engineering specialists, to launch a dedicated Research and Development department which has secured funding for various projects with GCU; a second KTP, Data Lab Innovation Centre funding for a 4-year Industrial Doctorate, a PhD scholarship and several student projects to support the company’s services in visual inspection and condition monitoring.

Sunamp Ltd, Tranent, and the University of Edinburgh. Since 2010, this partnership has grown from a small consultancy project into a vibrant and robust partnership, that has delivered substantial benefits to both partners, society and the wider economy through the development of high performance, long lasting heat storage solutions.  The partners have been successful in joint bids for millions of pounds of funding, new business and research opportunities, strengthened links to UK facilities, job creation and access to international markets.

The Weir Advanced Research Centre (WARC), founded in 2011 as a strategic engineering research partnership between the Weir Group PLC, Glasgow, and the University of Strathclyde, has delivered over 60 projects and has generated revenue, leveraged internal investment, harnessed external funding and grown Weir’s international footprint in oil and gas, and minerals markets.

This year, for the first time, the judges will choose a Spotlight Award for the partnership which has come together from a different business sector and academic discipline to provide an innovative solution to a challenge. The winner of this, and all the awards, will be announced at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards on Thursday 21 February.

The judging panels were made up of representatives from; Scottish Funding Council, Entrepreneurial Scotland, College Development Network, Zero Waste Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Government, Knowledge Transfer Network and the Interface Strategic Board.




Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2019