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Report calls for collaboration

Swinney pledges support for innovation

John Swinney NCUB modified 3John Swinney, the education minister, told a meeting of academics and business developers that the Scottish government is committed to creating a culture of innovation.

He said it was needed across all aspects of the economy, including the public and third sectors, and would emerge from collaboration between universities and business.

“Good ideas will have little trouble finding money to back them, but the challenge is to maintain and build those ideas here,” he said.

Mr Swinney (above) was speaking at the launch in Edinburgh of a report by the Growing Value Scotland task force set up by the National Centre for Universities and Business.

He said other areas of the world would look on Scotland as being fortunate to have such a strong academic structure.

Growing Value Scotland has made a number of recommendations to support Scotland’s drive for greater innovation which is seen as a key driver of economic growth.

It noted that:

• 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.

Rob Woodward NCUB

Rob Woodward (above), chief executive of STV and co-chairman of the Task Force, introduced nine recommendations in the report to improve the innovative culture.

He said the overall plan was based around collaboration and building the appropriate eco-system.

“To maintain Scotland’s competitive edge at the forefront of global innovation, it is vital that the country move quickly to adapt,” he told the gathering at the George Hotel.

“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”

He added: “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 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.

Photos by Terry Murden (copyright)

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