University-Business collaboration is a crucial function within the Scottish innovation system, and has huge potential to boost Scotland’s economy, but there are often very different needs to support each commercial sector to absorb knowledge from the research base.

This is an exciting time for Scotland’s innovation landscape and we know that great work is being done by universities and businesses in Scotland. But our new report, released today, outlines a clear need for universities and businesses to interact in a more integrated and sustainable way if greater progress is to be achieved.

Our new report calls for the innovation edge to be sharpened across Scotland’s vital commercial sectors and its ecosystem simplified by policy makers, as previously highlighted by the 2015 Dowling Review into business-university research collaborations.

What we have seen recently is that there have been some missed opportunities for Scotland’s various sectors to take full advantage of world-class university research, and also each other’s expertise.

We now know that there needs to be greater alignment between incentives for universities and businesses, as today’s report, drawing on input from over 150 leading figures from commerce, universities and policy organisations, shows. These include life sciences, energy, financial services and creative & digital, and the report reveals that Scottish businesses could benefit from a step change in innovation in collaboration with universities if current obstacles are overcome.

Together with the Task Force’s first publication, the new report makes evident an underexploited but rich and high quality asset within Scottish universities. University inventiveness is strong in UK terms but the level of collaboration between universities and business is relatively low. Scottish businesses need support in absorbing this knowledge but they appear to have a strong appetite to do so.

The potential to secure the future competitiveness of the Scottish university research base and grow Scottish Industry is substantial if we can unlock existing opportunities and we’re thrilled to be working with so many inspirational leaders within the Growing Value Scotland Task Force. We now turn our attention to developing our final conclusions and recommendations, scheduled for release at an event in Edinburgh on 25th May.

By Rob Woodward, CEO STV Group plc and Co-Chair of the Task Force
Professor Sir Ian Diamond, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen and Co-Chair of the GVS Task Force