Creativity and innovation shine as winners of 6th Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards announced

Date posted

21 April 2021


Edinburgh Napier was among the winners today in Scotland’s premier awards celebrating business-academic knowledge exchange.

A collaboration with the Scottish Leather Group (SLG Technology) won the award for Making a Difference as Interface, the business-academic matching service, announced the successful entries at the 6th annual Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards.

The winners – revealed on World Creativity and Innovation Day after a record number of entries - also included a major Covid-19 testing facility and a camera in a pill for early diagnosis of bowel cancer symptoms.

Scottish Leather Group and the University developed new, high value products and processes from waste and offcuts, which have significantly impacted on manufacturers, as well as contributing to education, and sustainable art.

Head and shoulders of Sam Vettese in a workshop setting

Leather manufacturing is a high polluting industry but Dr Sam Vettese, the academic partner in the project, has investigated the innovative use of waste materials in design and manufacturing. She helped the company explore ways of reducing the use of non-recycled plastics, cutting waste, meeting sustainability goals and ensuring cost effective production.

The collaboration’s objective was to refine the process utilising waste - firstly returned, used and shredded airplane seats then 'buffing dust', a by-product of the leather manufacturing industry that is swept away and burned. 

The outcome from this project was a 3D printable and sheet leather composite material and a process, utilising a 3D pen, that could be used to repair leather without adhesives with the potential to utilise the same batch of leather ‘dust’ that the object had been made from. 

In another success for the University, Professor Lis Neubeck, from the School of Health & Social Care, was shortlisted in the Knowledge Exchange Champion category. 

logo and text for 2021 Knowledge Exchange Awards

Applications for the awards were sought from all Scottish universities, research institutes and colleges, as well as businesses and organisations, demonstrating research and development and innovation-led partnerships which have had a positive impact on the economy, society or the environment.

The judges were looking for collaborations that showed innovation, impact (societal or economic) and transformation, along with recognising the people contributing to knowledge exchange. 

Dr Siobhán Jordan, Director of Interface, said: “The judges were incredibly humbled and impressed by the innovation and creativity, exemplar partnerships and overall impacts of the applications across all eight categories. 

“From responses to the COVID-19 crisis, to breakthrough technologies in health, circular economy and poultry genetics, the winners announced today are an impressive showcase of the incredible collaborative work which goes on every day in Scotland, and a celebration of the people behind the partnerships from all industry sectors and across all academic disciplines.

“They bring renewed admiration for knowledge sharing between businesses, social enterprises, public bodies, such as the NHS, universities and colleges across Scotland.”


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