- Interface providing vital support to businesses -
Businesses in the Highlands & Islands are seeing financial benefits from academic partnerships according to new research, with one hundred per cent of firms surveyed confirming that they would work with universities for a second time.
The new report, compiled by Interface - The knowledge connection for business, asked companies they have assisted in the last year, across the Highlands & Islands, about their experience of working with academic partners to gauge the growth of this important sector and their interest in future collaborations.
Supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Scottish Funding Council, Interface launched a dedicated Inverness office last year to assist companies requiring access to the country's top academic expertise. The eighteen companies already engaged in collaborative projects supported by Interface forecast an increase in sales and exports of £1.45m as a result of the partnerships.
£23.7 million (net GVA) is being added to the Scottish economy every year through successful business and academic partnerships brokered through Interface, and many in the Highlands & Islands have received a welcome economic boost, with almost a third asked expecting to see an increase in profit as a result.
Of the companies asked, six out of ten firms estimate that their reputation will be enhanced as a consequence of collaborating with a University or Research Institute, while over a third secured additional investment. Those companies currently collaborating with universities responded that they would not have considered working with universities had it not been for Interface.
Interface is a Scottish Funding Council-backed initiative that offers a central point of access for industry to Scotland's research base through its unique matchmaking service. Its aim is to maximise business potential by matching a firm with the relevant expertise at universities and research institutes which can help develop solutions to R&D requirements.
Dr Siobhán Jordan, director of Interface, is encouraged by the results: "The findings confirm that academic partnerships are providing real benefits for companies, not only in terms of profit, but also in job generation, product development and increased sales exports.
"It's often difficult for companies to come up with ways to increase their competitiveness, develop new products or exploit new market opportunities, therefore I would urge them to speak with our team in Inverness, which offers free and impartial advice for businesses to help them meet these challenges head on."
Charlotte Wright, director of Business and Sector Development at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: "Our partnership with Interface and the Scottish Funding Council has been a great success over the last year. Over 130 companies across the Highlands and Islands have taken part in the initiative to date and we have directly supported 20 collaborative projects which now forecast an increase in sales and exports of £1.45m as a result. Interface provides a unique service to support businesses, social enterprises, community groups and development trusts across the whole of the Highlands and Islands and we look forward to working with them to expand their services."
Laurence Howell's, Senior Director of Skills, Research and Knowledge Exchange at the Scottish Funding Council, said: "I'm delighted to see the investment we've made in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise making such a tangible difference to businesses and employment prospects in this part of Scotland. The new Interface office in Inverness has achieved a great deal in a short space of time which is a tribute to the staff there and to the companies and the universities working hard to increase jobs and growth"
To find out more about Interface and the opportunities available, please visit www.interface-online.org.uk
The Interface Highlands and Islands Team can be contacted at Cowan House, Inverness Retail and Business Park, Inverness IV2 7GF