SFC annouces expanded support for business innovation

Expanded Innovation Voucher Scheme from SFC and new SMART: Scotland award from Scottish Enterprise to UWI Ltd

The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) has announced the expansion of a successful scheme which has given more than £1 million to over 200 projects supporting small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) over the last three years.

SFCs Innovation Voucher scheme, administered by Interface - the knowledge connection for business, provides funding of up to £5,000 to universities to work with SMEs on projects including developing new products and services, improved production processes or experimental testing and measuring. In return SMEs contribute a matching value of cash, staff time or access to facilities.

In the last three years, the voucher scheme has helped 230 projects with funding of over £1million. SMEs in areas such as food and drink, renewables, sustainable technologies, fashion, energy and tourism have benefitted from the knowledge of academics to develop their business. Over the last five years Interface has worked with over 900 companies, creating almost 450 business-university projects with another 300 being explored.

Interfaces service is launched Scotland-wide today, with a new office in Inverness, enabling more businesses to connect directly to the ideas, research and expertise generated in Scotlands world-leading universities.

SFC is to invest £2.2 million into the Voucher Scheme and £1.2 million into Interface over the next three years. This includes European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funding of £800,000.

In addition, Highlands and Islands Enterprise is providing Interface with an investment of £120,000 and in-kind support of office facilities in

Inverness over the next three years. Similarly, Scottish Enterprise is working in partnership with SFC through seconding staff to Interface and sharing its resources, including office facilities, to further strengthen the public sector support available to help companies increase their innovation.

Mark Batho, Chief Executive of SFC, said: Both Interface and the Innovation Vouchers scheme have been a great success in providing Scottish companies, particularly small and medium sized businesses, with access to Scottish universities research and academic expertise. This approach directly links the expertise in our universities to the need to develop and strengthen the Scottish economy and new markets.The Funding Council is delighted to have helped hundreds of Scottish businesses in this way. We hope many more will benefit in the future.

Michael Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning said: The Scottish Government is committed to enhancing the links between education and the world of business and allowing a number of Scottish SMEs to tap into the considerable expertise of our world-renowned academic institutions will help get them on the front foot in the global marketplace. And as well as seeing their research become reality, our universities will also benefit financially from the scheme. I see this as a win-win situation.

Siobhán Jordan, Director of Interface, said: We know from the year-on-year rise weve seen in business and university collaborations that there is a huge appetite amongst the SME community for access to the leading expertise within

Scotlands university sector. This is why todays funding announcement is superb news for those businesses looking for the support to innovate, develop and thrive.

Strengthening links between the business and university sector will undoubtedly enable more SMEs to realise their potential in these uncertain economic times, and were delighted to have received this ongoing support from the Scottish Funding Council, European Regional Development Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to help make this happen.


For further information, please contact Heather Leigh Davidson, Tel: 0131 313 6683, email: hleighdavidson@sfc.ac.uk

Pictures available at: http://wtrns.fr/NOS-TQX514Qt1nm

Group shot, left to right:

Willy Roe, Highlands and Islands Enterprise; Siobhan Jordan, Interface; Michael Russell, Cabinet Secretary; Linda Urquhart, Morton Fraser; Professor Albert Rodger, Scottish Funding Council; David Smith, Scottish Enterprise.

Additional shots - representatives from each of the four companies that have benefitted from Interface and Innovation Vouchers.

Notes to editors

UWI SMART: Scotland award announced today
Also announced today by the Cabinet Secretary are details of Scottish Enterprise awarding a SMART:
Scotland grant of £70,000 to Edinburgh-based UWI Technology Limited to support the development of an elapsed time indicator, which is a device to indicate the length of time elapsed since a container has been first opened. The device will be targeted not only at the market requirement for a reliable indicator of the quality of perishable foods, but also at the pharmaceuticals and glues, sealants and chemicals sectors. It is estimated that food to the value of around £11 billion is thrown away in the UK every year, equating to around £680 per UK household.

UWI’s SMART: Scotland award follows assistance from Interface that funded a ‘proof of the concept’ project of the UWI Label device. The SMART: Scotland project is a direct continuation of the original project, demonstrating the integrated support available to Scottish companies to help raise innovation.


  1. Interface's Scotland-wide expansion and the additional investment in SFC's Innovation Voucher Scheme were launched today at an event hosted by Morton Fraser at their

    Edinburgh office.
  2. Both The Innovation Voucher Scheme and Interface have received 35 per cent funding from the European Regional Development Fund through the European Union.

  3. Interface has two offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

  4. SFC has agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with Scottish Enterprise (SE), which has agreed the secondment of SE staff to Interface and the use of SE facilities.

  5. SFC has agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with

    Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to establish an Inverness Interface office through direct funding and in-kind support.
  6. The Cabinet Secretary will announce that one of the companies attending the event, UWI Technology, will receive a Scottish Enterprise SMART award. The company's story illustrates how initial work with Interface has led to a significant relationship with the university sector. Further details of the company's SMART award may be found on the Scottish Enterprise website: www.scottish-enterprise.presscentre.com.

  7. The Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council (SFC) is responsible for allocating public funds to colleges and universities in support of Scottish Government priorities. SFC was established by the Scottish Parliament in 2005 and is a non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government.

  8. The Council's funding contributes towards the costs of learning and teaching, skills development, research, innovation and other costs such as staff, buildings and equipment in Scotland's 16 universities and three higher education institutions (collectively know as the university sector) and 43 colleges. The Council also provides resources to enable colleges to offer bursaries to students on non-advanced courses.

  9. The Council's mission is to invest in the development of a coherent college and university system which, through enhanced learning, research and knowledge exchange, leads to improved economic, educational, social, civic, and cultural outcomes for the people of



For further information please visit the SFC web site at http://www.sfc.ac.uk/knowledge_exchange/Workingwithbusiness/KEBusiness.aspx.

Further information on Interface and the Innovation Voucher Scheme may also be found on the Interface website: http://www.interface-online.org.uk

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