Stronger university-business collaboration vital to producing a step-change in Scottish innovation and productivity

Stronger university-business collaboration vital to producing a step-change in Scottish innovation and productivity

Scottish Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, thanked a cross-sector task force yesterday evening, for their final report to help boost Scotland’s economy through stronger university-business collaboration and a new innovation funding system.

Mr Swinney said:
“I would like to thank the National Centre for Universities and Business and specifically the Growing Value Scotland Task Force for their valuable contribution to the debate on innovation reform in Scotland.

“I welcome the recommendations from their report which complement the Scottish Government’s plans on innovation reform, by simplifying the Scottish innovation ecosystem and maximising collaboration between higher education institutions and business.

“Scotland has a comprehensive range of higher education institutions. The research they undertake, combined with our high quality workforce, means we clearly have many of the tools that will allow us to succeed in delivering greater prosperity in Scotland’s economy.”

Growing Value Scotland, a unique Task Force bringing together business leaders, university principals, and senior policy makers has joined forces to highlight key innovation challenges for the Scottish economy and to make recommendations to support Scotland’s drive up the innovation league tables.

The challenges are clear

• Scotland spends just 1.6% of its GDP on R&D which is substantially less than the leading European companies (e.g. Finland 3.55%, Sweden 3.41%, Denmark 2.98%, Germany 2.98%; 2012 figures).
• Businesses in Scotland contributed only 3.1% of the £24.1 billion invested in business R&D in the UK in 2012.
• Cooperation between universities and business in Scotland is lower than other parts of the UK.

The business and university leaders interviewed for the Task Force were eager to innovate and ambitious to collaborate to tackle these challenges. The Task Force has made nine recommendations about the need for more cooperation on skills, the need for businesses to take responsibility for their own innovation, and the importance of different sectors. Overall, the Task Force strongly supports a step change in the support for innovation and the impact of business-university collaboration.

Rob Woodward, CEO, STV Group plc and co-Chair of the Task Force said:
“To maintain Scotland’s competitive edge at the forefront of global innovation, it is vital that the country move quickly to adapt. Scotland must harness the creativity and inventiveness of its universities to bring about transformational change in all aspects of its business ecosystem, processes, services and technologies; have a relentless focus on entrepreneurship and business skills; and realign its policies and investments to make this vision a reality.”

Professor Sir Ian Diamond, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen and co-Chair of the Task Force said:
“Universities stand ready to play their part in the transformation of Scotland’s innovation system. We look forward to working with businesses and government on the major challenges that flow form the Task Force’s recommendations.”

Chief Executive of the National Centre, David Docherty said:
“The National Centre for Universities and Businesses set up the Task Force to bring together everyone involved in innovation. We believe that this has resulted in a roadmap for a simplified innovation ecosystem in Scotland that maximises university-business collaboration.”

The reportThe Step Change, Business-University Collaboration Powering Scottish Innovation, is the final report from the National Centre for Universities and Business Growing Value Scotland Task Force.

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