By Karen Peattie

HERIOT-WATT University has unveiled plans to “build the multinational scale-ups of the future” after forging a new partnership with Glasgow-based product development agency, Filament PD.

The Edinburgh university’s Global Research, Innovation and Discovery (GRID) facility, home to the its Business and Enterprise Hub incubator, said that it would combine its entrepreneurial talent pool with Filament PD’s commercial and industry experience to help scale Scottish businesses capable of competing at a global level in a post-Covid landscape.

Heriot-Watt’s £19 million GRID was launched to drive the university’s capabilities such as immersive technology that bridges engineering, business and computing science. Paul Devlin, head of commercialisation at Heriot-Watt, pointed to Scotland’s proud history of invention, coupled with a prosperous start-up culture.

“Our partnership with Filament PD will connect people, ideas and skills in order to develop commercial products that not only compete but lead the market,” he explained. “This underpins the value we place on our students working on real-world problems, collaborating across disciplines to deliver practical solutions with global impact, as well as our academics and existing industry partnerships.

“Collaboration and the sharing of expertise generates stronger opportunities for R&D funding and, by working together, we can support high-calibre, industry-ready graduates while securing investment to help grow and scale successful businesses.”

Filament PD has a track record in supporting some of Scotland’s most innovative start-ups and SMEs, and has brought over 100 products to market in the last five years. Examples include digitally tagged coffee cups to tackle the disposable cup crisis and technology traditionally used in lighthouse lenses to allow food to be cooked without a power source.

The company’s co-founder and managing director, Gregor Aikman, said: “By collaborating in this way, we can ensure we have the collective skills and knowledge to develop, and most importantly retain, intellectual property in Scotland – ultimately driving domestic employment, revenue and exports. In the current climate, this is even more important as restrictions tighten once again.

“By working with the network of students, academics, start-ups and scale-ups at GRID to progress ideas right through to product delivery, we can improve speed-to-market, therefore winning valuable commercial advantage over global competitors and boosting Scotland's success and reputation further.”

Mr Aikman said his firm was particularly drawn to GRID’s augmented reality and virtual reality capabilities, and its mix of disciplines including computer game modelling, engineering and electronics.

Filament PD provides a vital link between graduates, customers and its wide network of industry associates that want to find and retain the best talent. The partnership with Heriot-Watt will also run programmes designed to upskill students, boosting job opportunities and sparking entrepreneurship.

Last month, Heriot-Watt University launched its “Prospectus for Recovery and Growth”, illustrating its commitment to supporting the global recovery efforts in relation to Covid-19. The prospectus places collaboration, partnership and accelerating commercialisation at the heart of its approach.