The Scottish Funding Councils (SFC) strategic decision to invest initially up to £30m in Innovation Centres (ICs) has been described as a ‘game changer’


The level of investment and the collaborative nature of the Centres will certainly stimulate significant change in the relationships between universities and industry. Building on the success of the Scottish Research Pools and existing collaborations the Centres use Scotland’s university infrastructure and research excellence as a platform for R&D collaborations; integrating communities of researchers and industrial innovators across the supply chain to deliver economic growth for Scotland.

The first three Innovation Centres were launched in April 2013, of which two are being hosted by the University of Glasgow: CENSIS for Sensor and Imaging Systems, and Stratified Medicine. The SFC consultation process which led to the establishment of the Centres highlights the collaborative nature of this model which works to the strengths of the universities and companies involved, focusing on the demand-led problems facing industry in Scotland. All the partners are investing time and resource, sharing the risks and working to a common goal.

CENSIS – making use of intelligent sensors

CENSIS is an industry-led innovation hub: a single access to research capabilities, with in-house engineering and project management staff to support collaborative projects. This innovative approach will change the way industry and academic communities work together, giving industry the opportunity to present real-world challenges against which CENSIS partners will deliver. At the same time, it provides a platform to challenge risk-averse business practices and develop new approaches to R&D. Sensor and imaging systems is a key enabling technology to achieve quality, efficiency and performance across all of Scotland’s key markets including transport, defence, oil and gas, life sciences, and food and drink. Those involved in the project are incredibly enthusiastic about the impact they believe they can make to industry and the Scottish Economy. Initial estimates show a gross-value added impact of around £750m over the initial five-year funding period.

Stratified medicine Scotland Innovation Centres (SMS-IC)

The SMS-IC, supported by Health Science Scotland which brings together all the Scottish Universities with a focus on medicine and biomedicine and their associated NHS Boards, will be based at the new South Glasgow Hospitals Campus, an ideal place for this new partnership. The ultimate aim of SMS-IC is to personalise healthcare by bringing together a range of resources: industrial partner companies that specialise in DNA sequencing and manipulation of large datasets; incubator space for healthcare and technology businesses; facilities for clinical trials; and training for the next generation of leaders in stratified medicine. Initial estimates suggest that the Centre has the potential to generate £10.4m of new clinical trial income for Scotland and create around 334 new jobs. In the longer-term the goal is to provide healthcare savings and directly impact on patients by delivering more personalised and effective forms of treatment.

Future growth

It’s an exciting time; the Innovation Centres funded by the SFC are a fantastic opportunity for Scotland, for our research base and our companies. They will provide a focus for global partnerships in emerging areas with enormous potential for growth. I look forward to seeing what happens over the next five years and how these admirably ambitious Centres help to drive forward innovation in Scotland.