Business collaboration with universities and colleges in Scotland is expected to receive a boost following additional funding for the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council’s (SFC’s) voucher scheme.
Launched in February, the scheme initially offered match funding of up to £5,000 to help universities meet the costs of new ventures with small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The latest round of funding will extend the scheme to include up to £3,500 of funding for colleges and increase the amount of university funding to up to £15,000.
John McClelland, chair of the SFC, said: ‘The response we received from universities to the voucher scheme earlier this year shows that there is a great deal of enthusiasm for sharing knowledge and experience among the education and business sectors.
‘The projects that we have already funded will bring many benefits to society and our recovering economy through new products and processes. I am in no doubt we will receive just as good a response from the colleges that already work closely with many businesses in their area,’ he added.
So far, 17 universities and 30 businesses have worked together on projects in areas such as energy and sustainability, culture and tourism, construction and engineering, digital media, textiles and manufacturing. For all the academic departments involved, this was the first time they had collaborated with an SME.
Prof Anton Muscatelli, convener of Universities Scotland, said: ‘Scotland’s universities have a proven track record at translating their world-leading research into business benefit. This process has grown and professionalised within institutions over the last 15 years. Business between Scotland’s universities and SMEs was worth more than £26m last year alone. The extension of the voucher scheme is a welcome addition to this crucial area of university activity, which will help Scotland to innovate its way out of the recession.’