#CollaborateToInnovate was the message of the day; in an “Innovation Triple Helix” style, the morning of the 29th October event brought together industry and businesses from across Tayside, Dundee, Angus and Perthshire with academia and stakeholders/ Business support organisations. 

With a full house and a real buzz in the room, Margaret Teven, Head of Operations and Innovation at Research and Innovation Services of University of Dundee, opened the session and welcomed all delegates. She spoke passionately of the University mission and place in society; the regional economic development supporting the Tay City deal; its research excellence and entrepreneurial approach to transferring this research excellence to the wider community through licensing, company creation and collaborative R&D activities. 

With a mix of SMEs, large companies and academics in the room, Interface’s Business Engagement Executive, Lorna Watson spoke of the “Matched by Interface” offering and Interface role in matching businesses with the best academic talent or technical facilities across Scotland to support new product, process or service development for research and development.

With accessible funding from £5000 upwards and well-established links to all Scottish Universities and Research Institutes, a case study outlining the development of “Highland Boundary”, a distilled spirit, perfectly illustrated the #CollaborateToInnovate concept powered by Interface .Web: www.interface-online.org.uk 

With Business Gateway playing a major role in development of local businesses, Andrew Webster, presented how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)can “scale” as they leverage the different levels of support (financial, skills, management, export, HR etc.) within the Growth Advisory Service (£200K+ turnover) or the Growth Pipeline (£400K+ turnover) to become an “Account Managed” company. Web: https://www.bgateway.com/ 

With major investment by UK government in the InnovateUK Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (#KTP) and the UK Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), the importance of collaboration between business and academic researchers was brought to the fore by Lorna Howarth, KTP Adviser at the KTN. KTP is a three-way partnership between industry, the research base and a full-time researcher employed within the company. KTP aims to embed “new knowledge” within companies to support growth and offers funding of up to 2/3rd (for SMEs) or 50% (for large organisations) of the project costs over a maximum of three years. To complement Lorna, KTP associate Dr Tom Jones spoke of his KTP project with Dundee based company called Rautomead on their continuous casting process used for novel high tensile or high conductivity cabling and wire products. Web: http://ktp.innovateuk.org/ 

Innovation thrives on ideas, invention and improvement; protecting those through patenting, copyright, database, trademark or design rights. This was the focus of Martin Layton, Scottish Enterprise Intellectual Asset Specialist. Is it novel, inventive, capable of (industrial) application? All questions that a business needs to know before filing a patent to protect that new product or going for Research and Development (R&D) funding. Martin’s colleague, Lauren Bayne, Business Grants Specialist, presented four different levels of R&D funds available to Scottish businesses – SMART: Scotland, Single or Collaborative R&D and “Seek & Solve” that offer between 35 to 70% intervention support for businesses developing new products, processes or services. Web: https://www.scottish-enterprise.com/support-for-businesses/funding-and-grants/growing-your-business 

And finally, as we focus down on the need to #CollaborateToInnovate, David Nicholson, Business Development Manager at Scotland Centre for Engineering Education & Development (CeeD). David explained how CeeD supports Collaboration, Exchange of Knowledge, Elite networking and Development of staff across its 200+ member network. Members can share “challenges” across the CeeD network and share best practices (and knowledge) in developing a solution, in turn, often gaining insight into other sectors. Web: www.ceed-scotland.com 

Many thanks to Joanne Butterworth  and Alina Mason for their support in delivering such a great event!