Almost 200 link-ups between firms and academic institutions have been set up in a year by Interface, writes Brian Donnelly.

The Scottish Government-backed organisation said 196 businesses were partnered for the first time with academic expertise for collaborative projects.

It comes as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced funding of £5 million for the body to "continue to nurture links between research and innovation and industry" over the next five years.

In one case, Interface worked with Attis Fitness for academic support in developing leggings for runners with smart sensors embedded into the fabric to help people increase performance and reduce injury rates.

Interface also said in its 2017-18 annual review there were 40 follow-on collaborative business-academic projects started.

Nearly 400 expertise searches went to discussion with universities, research institutes and colleges.

HeraldScotland:

Professor Andrea Nolan, above, chair of Interface strategic board, said: "These are exciting times for supporting company-led innovation and Interface has bold ambitions.

"The organisation already has an impressive track record of matching businesses to academia by shaping viable propositions for the academic community – over 4,000 expertise searches have been issued by Interface’s regionally-based team to date, with 92 per cent of them identifying capability and capacity for companies to consider."

Interface has bases across Scotland with connections with universities, research institutes and colleges and works with individual and groups of businesses in all sectors to match them to academic expertise, research, technologies and specialist facilities.