Diving into the future of university-business collaboration in Scotland

Diving into the future of university-business collaboration in Scotland

NCUB Web Headers Sept 15PageBanner

By Dr Elspeth Elliott, Project Coordinator - Growing Value Scotland Taskforce and Dr Sarah Walker, Project Manager – Innovation (NCUB)


The recently published First Report of the Growing Value Scotland Task Force: Capability, Culture and Change provides an invaluable detailed econometric analysis of the Scottish innovation landscape. The report, which has been highlighted in the Scottish press, reveals that Scottish businesses contribute just 3.1% of all R&D spending in the UK, a figure which leaves Scotland sorely lacking compared to many of its European counterparts.

Despite promising figures for university R&D spending in Scotland, the vital collaborative element – and growth catalyst – of business investment in research remains deficient in places. This highlights the huge opportunities open to Scottish businesses to engage with and invest in the research base across Scotland, with the rest of the UK and internationally to positively impact the Scottish economy.

Set against the background of its First Report, the Growing Value Scotland Task Force is now entering its second stage and gathering qualitative evidence drawn from deep-dive interviews with representatives from Scotland’s key industrial sectors, universities, policy makers and industry organisations.

As noted in an earlier blog post in this series by Professor Alan Hughes:

“Understanding the processes behind these broad statistical patterns [highlighted in the First Report] is an essential second stage. This second stage will enable the fullest picture to be presented of the challenges and opportunities facing Scotland policy in enhancing value based on links between its excellent university sector and its business sector.”

Edinburgh-based consultancy BiGGAR Economics, which was awarded the contract in August, will undertake the deep-dive interview programme to tease out the complexities across university-business collaboration practices in Scotland. With 70% of all interviewees holding senior positions in industry, this second stage will uncover the industrial perspective from a wide cross-section including creative, digital & IT, financial & business services, energy, tourism, life sciences and food & drink. The work promises to identify positive working models that have the transferrable and scalable potential to drive the step-change required in Scotland’s economy.

Speaking of the progress so far, Graeme Blackett, Co-Founder and Director of BiGGAR Economics said:

“We have been delighted by the enthusiasm from Scottish businesses and other organisations, with senior managers fully engaging with the process and offering a range of constructive proposals for how businesses, universities and government can work together effectively to boost investment in and the outputs from innovation, to the benefit of the Scottish economy”.

The findings will be released in the Growing Value Scotland Task Force’s Second Report in the New Year.

The Task Force will publish its final conclusions and recommendations to enhance university-business collaboration in Scotland in May 2016, following the Scottish Elections on 5th May.


BiGGAR Economics Limited is a leading independent economic consultancy based just outside Edinburgh providing a range of services for central and local government, economic development agencies, other government agencies, universities, colleges, social economy organisations and private sector firms across Europe. The consultancy was founded in 2002 by Graeme Blackett and Aileen Hamilton.

Website: http://www.ncub.co.uk/what-we-do/gvs.html
Twitter: @ NCUBtweets #GrowingValueScotland

If your business is based in Scotland and you would like further information about this Task Force, please do contact Elspeth Elliott (Project Coordinator - GVS Taskforce) at GVScotland@ncub.co.uk. If you are interested in writing a blog on a similar topic for the NCUB, please contact Sarah Walker (Project Manager – Innovation) at sarah.walker@ncub.co.uk.

Expand for more