Business-academic projects supported by Interface have enabled Scottish companies to generate £64.2 million gross value added (GVA) a year for the Scottish economy, supporting around 1,060 Scottish jobs. 46% of businesses involved have increased their turnover and 31% have increased employment as a result of collaborating with academia.
Academics and research teams also benefit from the business-led collaborations in several ways, including introductions to new research areas, entering international markets, additional research funding, new collaborative partnerships, developing intellectual property and commercial links, as well as benefitting from increased reputation and new skills acquired by staff.
The long-term economic impact attributable to Interface could increase to more than £195.3 million GVA/year, supporting almost 3,500 jobs if future expectations of the businesses are realised.
Dr Siobhán Jordan, Director of Interface, said: “With the strong focus on innovation by designing and producing the products of the future to boost growth and create jobs in Scotland, this new report shows that marrying businesses to academic expertise has already delivered significant impact on our economy. We have worked with thousands of companies matching them to universities, research institutes and colleges to create new products, services and processes, increase turnover, expand businesses to new markets and safeguard jobs in remote regions.”
“Small and medium-sized enterprises play a crucial part in contributing to the economy and to our society and 95% of businesses we support have fewer than 50 employees.”
Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy Paul Wheelhouse, said: “Innovation is so important for our ambition to ‘shift the dial’ on boosting Scotland’s economic performance. Integral to this work will be driving greater collaboration between industry and academia, and building on existing research strengths. That is why I warmly welcome the role that Interface plays in connecting business and academia, and enabling SMEs to benefit from academic insight to drive forward their profitability and commercial success.”
“Our universities, research institutes and colleges are a key part of Scotland’s innovation landscape and have a vital role in supporting business innovation. The Scotland CAN DO Innovation Action Plan shows how we want to make best use of university research knowledge and talent and the expertise of the college sector to drive economic growth. We are working with our Enterprise Agencies, the Scottish Funding Council, Universities Scotland and Interface to improve Scotland’s innovation and knowledge exchange performance.”
When asked about their interaction with Interface, several of the companies interviewed reported having experienced transformational effects on their business culture, with many stating that the collaboration had been a catalyst for a long-lasting relationship with academia.