Partnership combines product design and scale-up expertise as part of economic recovery strategy

Heriot-Watt Student

HERIOT-WATT University is aiming to build the multinational scale-ups of the future as the institution announces a strategic partnership with a product development agency, Filament PD.

The University’s Global Research Innovation and Discovery (GRID) facility will combine its entrepreneurial talent pool with Filament PD’s commercial and industry experience to help scale businesses capable of competing at a global level. 

With a focus on open-ended, multidisciplinary education and support, the partnership expects to drive investment, improve route-to-market for new technologies and boost Scotland’s reputation for cutting edge design internationally. 

Filament PD is renowned for supporting some of Scotland’s most innovative start-ups and SMEs. By specialising in transforming technology into connected product experiences, Filament PD has brought over 100 products to market in the last five years by harnessing innovation and transforming research into successful products. 

Examples include digitally tagged coffee cups to tackle the disposable cup crisis and a technology traditionally used in lighthouse lenses to allow food to be cooked without a power source. 

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. With a proud history of graduate employability, Heriot-Watt remains committed to giving students the best possible chance of entering the workplace during the current challenging time for graduate employment. The partnership will also run programmes designed to upskill students, boosting job opportunities and sparking entrepreneurship.

Paul Devlin, Head of Commercialisation at Heriot-Watt University, said: “Scotland has a 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.  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.” 

Gregor Aikman, co-founder and managing director of Filament PD, 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.

“GRID has a unique mix of disciplines which includes computer game modelling, engineering and electronics. As a world leader in academic and entrepreneurial excellence, GRID features the latest in technological innovation, and we were particularly drawn to its augmented reality and virtual reality capabilities.”

Last month, Heriot-Watt University launched its Prospectus for Recovery and Growth, illustrating the institution’s 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.

The Prospectus sets out four primary commitments, and accompanying actions:

  • Aligning research to inclusive economic growth and green recovery
  • Focusing on the skills and expertise needed for the future
  • Inspiring young people to be ambitious, resilient and enterprising
  • Engaging global networks to drive transformative recovery 

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