Many more years of collaboration to come thanks to Interface - Dr Siobhán Jordan

We are celebrating Interface’s 15th birthday this year. Reflecting back on the last 15 years, much has changed across Scotland, the UK and globally in establishing business-academic partnerships. As Interface’s founding director, I established the service for matching business and academics with a “blank sheet” in 2005 after recognising that collaborations could achieve so much more together.

Tuesday, 6th October 2020, 7:30 am
Dr Siobhán Jordan, Director, Interface.
Dr Siobhán Jordan, Director, Interface.

We are celebrating Interface’s 15th birthday this year. Reflecting back on the last 15 years, much has changed across Scotland, the UK and globally in establishing business-academic partnerships. As Interface’s founding director, I established the service for matching business and academics with a “blank sheet” in 2005 after recognising that collaborations could achieve so much more together.

I can take much pride in the fact that the fundamental principles that were the bedrock of Interface and the wonderful team that I led have remained the same – exemplar customer service coupled with being an impartial translator, matchmaker and relationship manager between businesses and academic teams. Added to that is patience and persistence.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

I am proud that from a humble beginning with brokering five collaborative R&D projects in year one we have increased that number to 329 in the last 12 months– that’s a staggering 6,480 per cent growth.

Reaching a significant milestone always makes me stop and think – what has worked well and what can be improved. There are many contributors to the ongoing success of Interface; first and foremost the ability to inspire and build trust with companies to consider collaborating with an academic partner, particularly when they may not have reached out to a research team in the past. Developing compelling business led propositions that offer interesting challenges to our many academic partners across multiple disciplines is also key. And then there is the sprinkling of magic; creating impactful partnerships that make a real difference to society and the economic prosperity of Scotland which in turn has given our public sector funders the confidence to continue to support the service.

Interface is key to unlocking the doors, overcoming the perceived barriers and perceptions around speed of response, IP ownership and cost, providing a helpful hand to over 5,000 businesses to ensure that accessing knowledge, technologies and talent can accelerate their innovation and support business growth.

We are daily witnessing tremendous strides in the medical and economic recovery responses to COVID-19 and at the heart of many of these are academic teams collaborating with companies across Scotland. This porosity and ease of access is hugely welcome and ensures that knowledge is being made useful at pace.

Ever the optimist, I see many opportunities for knowledge exchange in the years ahead. We know that there are many more companies that can benefit from connecting with academic partners through Interface – every year over 60% of the companies that are supported by Interface are embarking on their first collaborative project with an academic team. So, we want to inspire many more as to the art of the possible.

However, ever the realist, I am also aware that many organisations and businesses face significant challenges in remaining viable and retaining staff. The ideas and insights Interface has identified from “on the ground” approaches to businesses driving innovation can help reimagine and reconstruct provision within the challenges of the current environment. Given the significantly changed circumstances that now exist for individuals, universities, colleges, businesses, society and the economy as a result of COVID-19 , we want to enable many more profitable partnerships to support the nation through the recession and into recovery.

Dr Siobhán Jordan

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.