A unique technology offering immersive ‘walk throughs’ of still to be built houses, a novel method of recycling print toner, and a technique for new drug discovery, were among the winners of this year’s Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards.

The Innovation of the Year was awarded to a family-owned and Caithness-based business Norscot Joinery, which builds kit homes. The company worked with Strathclyde University to research and develop virtual reality show home software.

It combines advanced interactive visualisation of buildings with building information modelling (BIM) data for the first time. It will allow clients to immerse themselves in a house before it is built, and interact with the design process, providing a better understanding of cost impacts of design changes.

The awards, run by Interface, celebrate the impacts achieved through business and academic partnerships. This year’s event was attended by 300 people at Royal Bank of Scotland Conference Centre in Edinburgh.

Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse said: “My congratulations to all those who have had their outstanding work recognised, in being nominated for a Scottish Knowledge Exchange Award.

“The awards are a showcase for some of the best examples we have in Scotland of what can be achieved when business and academia work together towards a common goal.

“Scotland has a growing reputation as a place where excellence is achieved through innovation. The ongoing exchange of knowledge is a crucial element of that.”

Speakers at the awards included Steve Stewart, from the award winning independent craft brewery Stewart Brewing, and Professor Eleanor Shaw, of the Strathclyde University’s Hunter Centre of Entrepreneurship. The awards were preceded by sessions in which business people and academics shared their experiences of working together.

“The sheer diversity of business-academic partnerships in this year’s awards is impressive and testament to innovation thriving in the business-academic community,” said Dr Siobhán Jordan, the director of Interface.

“The winners have great potential to impact on society, the environment and the economy, whilst many of the partnerships demonstrate a variety of unexpected collaborations, for example, matching a joinery company with virtual reality experts.”

The other winners were:

Building Skills through Knowledge Exchange

Petra Crocker, KTP associate from Edinburgh Napier University, worked with Edinburgh-based Multiply UK to create a real-time digital consumer tool to “drive both the expansion and reputation of the company as industry experts in planning and insight”.

Social and Environmental Impact

Moock Environmental Solutions, of Cumbernauld, and Dundee University for a project to recycle print toner by making it soluble for use in the art and building industries, and animal medical treatments, through the potential to waterproof material. The company and university also received a year-long membership from category sponsor SCI.

A special commendation was awarded to Leuchie House, of North Berwick, a charity which provides short break respite care to people living with a long-term condition, and Queen Margaret University, for researching and developing an outreach respite support and care service which could be licensed to other healthcare providers.

Multiparty Collaboration

Dundee University’s European Screening Centre, BioAscent Discovery, Pivot Park Screening Centre, Lygature, Oxford University, and 30 private and public partners across Europe, for providing access to high-throughput screening to test medicinal compounds leading to the creation of new medicines.

A special commendation was awarded to AALART – Low-pixel Automatic Target Detection and Recognition: Thales UK, University of the West of Scotland and CENSIS Innovation Centre for developing unique technology enabling automatic detection of humans and vehicles from up to 1500m using thermal imaging.

Outstanding Contribution to Knowledge Exchange

Professor Bill Buchanan, Professor in the School of Computing, Edinburgh Napier University. Bill leads knowledge exchange through many collaborative projects and industry-led events and engagements which have contributed greatly to growing a thriving Scottish cyber security community, leading to improvements in business resilience and incident response, and to innovations and real patient impact in health and social care.

He received an OBE in 2017 for Services to cybersecurity, has co-created three successful spin-out companies, established an innovative cloud training infrastructure in security and digital forensics, and is driving the building of a cybersecurity training centre, accessible online and on campus.