‘How?’, ‘Why?’, ‘What if?’ May 20, 2013Posted by interfaceonline in Interface general.
Tags: innovation, Interface - The knowledge connection for business, Scotland research insitutes, Scotland universities
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Yesterday I completed the final leg of a 50 day running challenge that saw me run 5k for every one of those days. Ultimately, I was doing it raise money for charity but a not insignificant part of me was doing it out of curiosity. Not being much of a runner beforehand, I wanted to know if I could do it; just how far could I push myself physically? (Answer – really quite far).
This inherent curiosity we humans possess is undoubtedly what has propelled us into today’s age of rapidly advancing technologies. Barely a day passes without articles about new scientific discoveries appearing in my morning Metro. It is inspiring stuff – especially when you see how frequently the outputs of Scottish Higher Education Institutions appear.
Innovation is driven by the questions of ‘how?’, ‘why?’ and ‘what if?’ and without this innate curiosity we’d most likely still be sitting in caves and banging one another over the head with clubs. Driving a culture of open innovation where Scottish businesses ask these questions on a regular basis and know where to go to get the answers is a key part of Interface’s remit. We recognise that businesses need a knowledge exchange system that is easy to navigate and provides them with the expert knowledge and research they need……and has the potential to stimulate even greater knowledge exchange.
So if you find yourself asking a question that starts ‘how?’, ‘why?’ or ‘what if?’ just get in touch. Who knows where it may lead!
Farewell to a Great Innovator May 13, 2013Posted by interfaceonline in Interface general.
Tags: alex ferguson, innovation, Interface, Interface - The knowledge connection for business, manchester united, Scotland research insitutes, Scotland universities, technology
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Having been coerced into being the guest blogger this week by the lovely ladies in marketing I set about trying to find some clever technology or some cutting edge company leading the way to wow you with. However this quest was cut short by the retirement announcement of one of Scotland’s greatest innovators, Sir Alex Ferguson. Now before you mop up the tea you have inevitably spilt all over your New Scientist and educate me on the achievements of Watt and Bell, hear me out.
A recurring theme that we hear being spoken about when innovating is ‘mindset’, this is key whether as an academic, a company, a team or even an individual. It is about actively developing that mindset across the organisation to drive innovation and this is no different in football where Ferguson and his staff built four different successful squads over his 26 year tenure. Many leaders are victims of their previous successes – they stick with known products (their star players) and processes (team formations and strategies), and sooner or later they are eclipsed by competitors with newer and better ideas. Ferguson was a master of continuous improvement, he sold off famous players at their peak, and he experimented with younger, unproven players. Along the way, it is inevitable that mistakes were made, however when you look at what Manchester United have achieved during this time, many of these mistakes will have been put down as learning experience and not repeated.
So there you have it, Bell, Fleming, Watt, Baird and Ferguson – what a team! One qualifying statement that I would say is that as a leader and innovator, Sir Alex Ferguson is an inspiration, however as a manager you may want to stay clear of emulating his hairdryer treatment or throwing a shoe at your star developer!
You will never find a Nessie in the zoo! May 6, 2013Posted by interfaceonline in Interface general.
Tags: innovation, Interface, Interface - The knowledge connection for business, jacobite cruises, loch ness monster, Scotland research insitutes, Scotland universities
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Have you heard the one about the tour company who insured against damage from a mythical (supposedly) creature?
No? Well Interface client Jacobite Cruises has done just that. They have insured its fleet for more than £1million against damage by the Loch Ness Monster! Sounds a bit crazy? Well, with the story released on the 80th anniversary of the first ever recorded Nessie spotting it looks like it has been an extremely clever marketing campaign – with no collateral damage! The story has received considerable coverage from across the UK, to New Zealand to America. Everybody loves a Nessie story and this has been the perfect way of promoting the tour company on the back of that.
From the first time the Nessie sighting was published in the local newspaper, The Inverness Courier, 80 years ago some may say that the whole Nessie story is a remarkable marketing success for Inverness and the Highlands, with one of the world’s greatest mysteries pulling in approximately £60million a year for the Inverness economy.
Innovation does not necessarily just mean new products and services through R&D it can also be applied to marketing. As Jacobite has shown, innovation can be finding a new way to reach your audience and keeping the brand fresh in the customer’s mind.
Interface – The knowledge connection for business can help businesses to develop their innovative ideas by providing access to the knowledge and expertise in Scotland’s universities and research institutes to stimulate innovation and growth. Whether this is through new product development, research, feasibility studies, R&D, processes or marketing – contact one of the team to see how we can help you.
We promise that there will be no nasty monsters lurking beneath the surface!
As always… April 30, 2013Posted by interfaceonline in Interface general.
Tags: business support events, FHIS, Food & Health Innovation Service Conference, innovation, Interface, Interface - The knowledge connection for business, Interface Online, knowledge exchange, rural scotland, Scotland research insitutes
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By Alan Feighery
We are now one month into our recently funded rural innovation project with our new team members Mari and Lorna busy raising Interface’s profile in rural area with particular focus on Perthshire, Grampian, Dumfries & Galloway and Ayrshire. Already we are seeing demand from a wide range of rural businesses with enquiries ranging from satellite image processing to business branding.
There are several events coming up in May. Interface and Heriot Watt University have partnered to deliver a webinar on ‘Developing Community Assets: Innovative ways to empower communities’. Shelley will be one of the speakers at the event, and will describe how Interface can support organisations in the third sector.
Interface is organising the FHIS workshop on Regulations to be held on the 14th May at the DCA in Dundee, and on the 18th June, there will be a FHIS workshop on Emerging Technologies which will be held at the University of Strathclyde and will have one of our clients companies speaking.
On the 28th and 29th May I will be holding an Innovation Clinic in Glenrothes in partnership with Fife Cultural Trust. Businesses will have the opportunity to meet with myself and Louise Trow from Fife Cultural Trust to discuss their innovative ideas and how we may be able to help. If you would like to request an appointment to discuss your ideas please get in touch with me.
We support companies operating in any sector. As always, if your company would like help in developing a new product, process or service, get in touch to see if we can match you up with an academic partner.
TO BEAR OR NOT TO BEAR! April 22, 2013Posted by interfaceonline in Interface general.
Tags: edinburgh zoo, innovation, Interface, Interface - The knowledge connection for business, Interface Online, Knowledge Management, Knowledge Transfer, new technology, pandas, Scotland research insitutes, Scotland universities, SMEs, tourism scotland
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By Beverley Montgomery
Edinburgh is waiting with baited breath to see if the matchmaking between Edinburgh Zoo’s giant pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang is successful. After much flirting over the last few days, the staff at Edinburgh Zoo are hoping that the bears will finally get together. It is anticipated that visitor numbers at the zoo will rise substantially with the arrival of panda cubs, injecting some much needed cash into the coffers of the zoo.
Unfortunately, it’s one collaboration that Interface can’t take credit for although we have just surpassed a milestone of over 700 successful partnerships between companies and academics since its inception in 2005 with a total project value of over £13M. With access to world leading research and facilities, results of these collaborations have included jobs being safeguarded as well as additional jobs generated, the addition and authentication of new products, increased sales and turnover, as well as the company’s reputation enhanced by being associated with one of Scotland’s universities and research institutions. These initial collaborations have often led to further follow-on activity with additional funding generated and further collaborations.
We take great pride in our companies at Interface and watch with interest as they go from strength to strength. Here are some of our latest ‘good news’ stories:
Interface clients are named winners of the Scottish EDGE fund Seventeen young Scottish businesses that have demonstrated the greatest potential to grow and succeed have secured awards of up to £50k through the Scottish Government’s Scottish EDGE fund, which aims to support and encourage entrepreneurial activity in Scotland.
England rugby team use Scots ‘mauling machine’ developed through an Interface project Scottish rugby coach and inventor Richie Gray has launched a new training machine with manufacturers Rhino and thanks to an Interface – The knowledge connection for business facilitated partnership accessing technical expertise from Heriot-Watt University. It follows the success of his Rhino Collision King, which is now being used by Test squads and leading Super Rugby and Heineken Cup sides to improve their rucking technique.
Robot falcons to rid Waverley of pigeon pests They are as much a part of Edinburgh’s Waverley Station as the Victorian railings or the icy wind, but now a Scottish technology firm has been drafted in to tackle one of its perennial problems: pigeons.
Interface Client Pulsetta wins Healthy Eating Award At the annual Grampian Food Forum Innovation Awards at the Marcliffe Hotel in Aberdeen, Interface client Pulsetta was announced Winner of the prestigious ‘Commitment to Healthy Eating Award’. This award was judged by the world-renowned Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health.
So, if you’re a company that would like help in developing a new product, process or service, get in touch to see if we can match you up with your perfect partner!
The heartbeat of innovation April 15, 2013Posted by interfaceonline in Interface general.
Tags: innovation, Interface, Interface - The knowledge connection for business, Interface Online, Scotland research insitutes, Scotland universities, SMEs
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By Siobhan Jordan
On a number of occasions over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to sit on trains to reflect and think as I travel the length and breadth of Scotland. Those who know me well understand that I use this as my time to think! Armed with my blue notebook I plan, create, craft and prioritise. The heartbeat of innovation runs through Interface in as much as the great companies that we are supporting. And like any small business with limited resources and finances, new developments above all must result in impacts to the bottom line and measurable outcomes.
A recent headline announced that Scottish business ‘needs resilience and humanity’. Whilst the thought provoking article was challenging adopting new approaches to management, the theme resonated with me as I considered our approaches to innovation. Resilience is needed to ensure that new idea generation and more importantly their implementation does not get side tracked in the day to day operational activities. Humanity and humility is needed as we cannot do everything alone – an open culture is required to test the ideas, find the correct team to mainstream and continually review progress.
So my thought of the week is that collaboration and inspiration are the keys to innovation – not just for our client companies but for the ongoing lifeblood of the Interface service
Keep ‘em coming! April 9, 2013Posted by interfaceonline in Interface general.
Tags: innovation, Interface, Interface - The knowledge connection for business, Interface Online, Knowledge Transfer, Scotland research insitutes, Scotland universities
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By Laura Robertson
As I write this week’s blog I can’t help but think how quickly the weeks are flying in at the moment. We are now in April and it won’t be long until the new call for Innovation Vouchers is announced for 2013/2014!
So far this year we’ve had a great response for both the standard and follow on Innovation Vouchers and are well on our way to matching last year’s total. Don’t forget that you can submit the standard Innovation Voucher’s application by the first Monday of each month to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you need any help completing the application form or to check eligibility, the guidelines are also available on the website. We have the following deadline set for the follow on vouchers: 7 June 2013.
Watch this space for further information on the new call and future deadlines!
If you are keen to find out more about the Innovation Voucher collaborations that have taken place, keep an eye on the case study page of our website. You’ll find lots of interesting stories and there will be some mini Innovation Voucher case studies coming soon.
We are delighted to welcome our two new colleagues, Lorna Watson and Mari Findlay, to the team who will be out and about supporting businesses in rural Perthshire and Dumfries. Sadly though, two team members, Donna Kudarenko and David Chapman, will be departing soon to take up new roles in the private sector. Both have been true assets to the team and we wish them well in their future endeavours.
Distance is no object March 26, 2013Posted by interfaceonline in Interface general.
Tags: business support events, innovation, Interface, Interface - The knowledge connection for business, Interface Online, Knowledge Management, Knowledge Transfer, rural, Scotland research insitutes, Scotland universities, Scottish Enterprise, SMEs
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By Kathryn Fraser & David Chapman, Highlands & Islands Team
We enter the second week of our rural campaign, in which we in the Interface office in Inverness, along with colleagues covering other rural areas of Scotland, are undertaking a number of activities and events to help encourage innovation and support organisations located in the more remote regions of the country.
At Interface, we feel passionate about helping businesses and social enterprises overcome the challenges they face in their organisations. And whether they are based on the doorstep of Scotland’s top universities or located hundreds of miles away in the most hard to reach and fragile areas of our great land shouldn’t matter. All too often, the physical distance from the university base is seen as an insurmountable barrier to overcome for businesses looking to work with an academic partner to find the help they need to innovate in their business. We’re continuously striving to overcome the “tyranny of geography” through the use of technology, tailored local events etc to ensure that distance really is no object. With over 200 organisations directly interacted with (and countless others attending our events) across the Highlands and Islands, since our Inverness office opened less than 2 years ago, we are on the right path to making sure that businesses are not disadvantaged by their rural location and that knowledge exchange activity is flourishing in the far flung reaches of Scotland as much as it is in the business communities of our towns and cities.
Instead of us all trying to set up individual events in one area, we have got together with other organisations, to offer a one stop event for business advice and support (Interface, HIE’s IA advisor, SMART Scotland, Enterprise Europe Network and SMAS), which we last week hosted in Elgin, and will be putting on in Oban next month. The businesses win as they only have to travel once to hear from experts about the support available to their business saving time and money and we win by working collaboratively. Kathryn also followed this up by working with the Moray Chamber of Commerce and Business Gateway to host innovation clinics in Elgin the following day, which has resulted in some interesting discussions on how Interface can help with the Moray Economic Strategy…All good
Outwith the Highlands and Islands, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Funding Council in partnership with Interface are working hard to assist more companies in remote rural Scotland and we are pleased to say that two new colleagues, based in Dumfries and Perthshire, will join the team from 2nd April to support rural businesses.
Guest blog: Enterprise Europe Network March 18, 2013Posted by interfaceonline in Uncategorized.
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We are delighted to introduce our guest blogger for this week; Elizabeth McNeil from Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), who looks at how EEN are supporting innovation in rural Scotland as part of Interface’s rural campaign taking place over the coming weeks.
Here at Enterprise Europe Network Scotland (EEN), we work hard to link innovative businesses across Europe by opening up new opportunities for Scottish companies, finding overseas partners such as manufacturers or distributors, or connecting them with European subcontractors or sourcing partners for joint ventures.
With over 4,000 Network colleagues across the continent, our team proactively explores partnering options across all sectors. Companies throughout the Scotland are already benefiting and engaging with like-minded companies to develop and licence new products and share expertise.
The EEN team can help you:
• Make the right business connections with European partners
• Access European funding opportunities and participate in collaborative R&D
• Research and understand legislation, policies and working practices in new overseas markets
• Access European tenders and contracts
• Have your say on the European Commission’s policy-setting process
But the best way to understand what the EEN does is through the experiences of our companies…
Live Native is based on the Isle of Skye and produces a range of living organic skin care products which are hand made using premium organic and aroma therapeutic moisturising ingredients. Founder Vicky Ewbank admits to having struggled on occasion to source suppliers that ticked all her ecological boxes. With the support of Enterprise Europe Network she was able to take the business to the next stage, becoming more than a small producer.
Vicky now has a number of partners throughout Europe, including France and Slovenia. Live Native also supplies a salon in Holland, a spa in Slovenia and has three web shops in Switzerland. It is in active discussions with a 200 strong hotel chain throughout Scandinavia as well as with distributors in Germany, Norway and across the world. Michelle Wemyss of Enterprise Europe Network said she was able to guide the company through French legislation, custom duty and Eco-Innovation awards – and line them up with a number of distributors abroad.
Ayrshire-based Medical Device Company Ltd (MDC) is one of Scotland’s innovative life sciences businesses that achieved success in overseas markets with support from EEN. Jerry Donnan of MDC said: “We don’t have the personnel or the resources to engage directly with big European companies or foreign clients and it was becoming clear we needed to understand the rules and regulations when embarking upon business partnerships in Europe. “Enterprise Europe Network has enabled us to move beyond the UK market and has provided MDC with advice on regulations, tax and financial information that affects doing business in the EU.”
As a result of collaborating in Europe, MDC is now part of the Zurich-based Euro SkinGraft project, which could revolutionise the techniques of forming skin grafts for burns patients. The company also plans to build more partnerships throughout Europe and is in active negotiations with several new potential partners.
If you think we can help your business then get in touch. We have staff based all across Scotland from the hills of Inverness to sunny Ayrshire!
Enterprise Europe Network Scotland is supported by Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Highland Opportunity Ltd and the European Commission; it offers FREE business information, collaborative partner searches and assistance increasing competitiveness across a wider Network which brings together close to 600 business support organisations from more than 50 countries, all with a common mission of helping small companies make the most of the business opportunities across Europe.
When push comes to shove… March 11, 2013Posted by interfaceonline in Uncategorized.
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By Fiona Schaefer
Snowdrops, crocuses and even a few early daffodils showing us that spring is on its way, the snow brought us back to winter today. We’ve already been out to help cars get unstuck!
As ever March is a busy time for everyone with lots of events. I’m looking forward to being up in Dundee with the Interface Food & Drink team tomorrow afternoon at an event for academics from Dundee, Abertay, St Andrews and Stirling universities. We’ve Amanda Brown from Scotland Food & Drink along with Helen and Lorna to discuss industry issues and opportunities to collaborate with the industry. Email email@example.com if you’d like to come as I’m sure we can fit a few more in.
There are still a couple of spaces to meet with Louise at her Innovation Surgeries in Edinburgh on Thursday, so snap them up quickly to avoid disappointment!
Next week, Opportunity Knocks comes to Elgin with the chance hear from Kathryn and other experts on the wide range of support available to develop your business. There’s also the chance to book a 1:1 with Kathryn on the Thursday 21st March.
Thursday 21st March is a very busy day there’s Eat, Drink and Biochar! in Edinburgh. If you’ve a project which could benefit from engineering expertise then our Webinar / Live at Heriot Watt event is for you.
So we look forward to seeing you either in person or online soon, as always feel free to give us a call or drop us an email to see if we can help.