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Five Highlands and Islands businesses return from MIT in Boston, USA

03 February 2011

Five ambitious Highlands and Islands businesses have returned from the world-renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab in Boston, where they met students, researchers and an international network of industry sponsors of the Lab.

Sponsored by HIE, each company won a place as part of the development agency's strategic partnership with MIT which has been ongoing now for over five years. The next competition is currently open with a closing date of 11 February 2011.

The trip was tailored to meet the needs of the five successful businesses, with opportunities to interact with various departments and Labs within MIT. The Media Lab gave the businesses access to a full range of research and development activities, new creative ideas and world leading innovative product developments.

During the week-long visit, the companies also visited the Scottish Development International North American headquarters in Boston and the MIT Sloan School of Management.

MIT is famous for developing and nurturing entrepreneurship around the world. The Media Lab is at the forefront of cutting edge technological research and development, working with a variety of world-renowned companies and producing over 100 spin-off companies in the past 15 years.

The delegates representing the Highlands and Islands on the course in Boston were:

  • Fiona Sherret of Grampian Highland Resources Ltd (GHRL), Nairn
  • Lindsey Moodie of the Centre for Health Science, Inverness
  • Thomas Hogben, DP Digital Media, Inverness
  • Jesus Menendez of RTC Timber Systems, Elgin
  • Campbell Maclennan of AES Ltd in Forres.

Director of GHRL, Fiona Sherret, said: "The visit to MIT Media Lab was a fantastic experience. The Lab has a feeling of unbridled optimism where anything is possible. I was delighted to be given the chance by HIE to explore opportunities to develop our music therapy project. I am also delighted to announce GHRL is now collaborating with MIT Media Lab. A research associate from MIT will be coming to Inverness to head up a project using his own innovative and high tech music therapy software, working with disadvantaged people in remote and rural areas."

Lindsey Moodie, Business Development Manager at the Centre for Health Science in Inverness, said: "The Media Lab state that it is a place where the future is lived, not imagined. This sums up how impressive and inspiring my visit to MIT was. There was so much to see and learn from, it was hard not to be impressed. One of the main benefits was getting an insight into the workings of MIT's ideas culture - their entrepreneurial ecosystem, how they encourage cross disciplinary working and encourage strong links with industry and make these successful. I also had the opportunity to visit the new media medicine lab, which is focusing on telehealth, the delivery of health service projects using mobile technology. This was relevant to one of the projects we are working on and there are potential areas for collaboration. I would strongly encourage other businesses to apply for this competition in the future, it is a fantastic opportunity."

DP Digital Media, a media production and technology company based in Inverness, is part of the Development Partners group which has a proven track record stretching back more than 15 years. Thomas Hogben, said: "The most impressive thing about the Media Lab is seeing how all the people work. The whole layout of the lab is designed to encourage collaboration and innovation. It was a great place to be and I'm sure all of us got a lot out of the trip. I have taken so much away from this and it's been a pleasure and an honour to visit such a forward thinking facility."

As a leading manufacturer of timber frames in Elgin, RTC Timber Systems is building on 20 years of solid business foundations. Jesus Menendez of RTC won the Scottish Timber Trade Association's prize for best dissertation by a timber engineering Masters student at Edinburgh Napier University's Centre for Timber Engineering early last year.

"The most amazing aspect of the MIT media Lab is the huge number of projects going on, I am sure there are more than 500.", said Jesus. "Inspirational technology can be found in every corner, from the Media Lab, School of Mangement and in each of the classes. The visit has impacted me in so many ways and my thanks go to RTC for encouraging me to apply and to HIE for making it possible."

AES Ltd is the UK's oldest existing solar thermal collection manufacturer, having manufactured solar hot water systems since 1979. Campbell Maclennan said: "MIT Media Lab is full of so many innovative ideas with so many inspirational ideas to take away. I'll be looking at harnessing technology to put my knowledge across so individuals can design and specify systems to meet their own specific needs."

HIE has developed a strategic partnership with MIT in Boston over the last five years, for the benefit of ambitious businesses in the Highlands and Islands.

John Mackenzie for HIE said: "Our relationship with MIT, it's Sloan School of Management, Entrepreneurship Centre and other departments such as the Media Lab is going from strength to strength.

"All five company representatives that took part in the week at Media Lab have come back invigorated and are keen to put into practice what they have seen and learnt. They have also remained in contact with various departments and researchers at MIT to continue working together.

"The work that HIE does in partnership with MIT to support knowledge transfer, innovation and entrepreneurship in the region is helping attract and retain some very exciting businesses in the Highlands and Islands and we aim to build on this for the future."

For more details on the Highlands and Islands Enterprise MIT Media Lab competition and how to enter, visit our Media Lab page

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