SULSA benefits from SFC funding to drive university and business collaboration

publication date: Apr 20, 2010
author/source: University of Aberdeen and the Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance

Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance (SULSA) and the University of Aberdeen are to benefit from the launch of a £8.1m programme to be announced today (Tuesday April 20) by the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Michael Russell. 

The Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council (SFC) programme (SPIRIT) will involve universities and businesses working together in a series of innovative knowledge exchange projects aimed at key sectors of the Scottish economy. 

The University of Aberdeen has been awarded a grant of £1.26million from the Horizon Fund to lead the Bioindustry Skills, Knowledge and People Exchange (BioSKAPE) project on behalf of SULSA. 

The project is one of 10 to receive funding. 

Scotland has been identified as one of the top five emerging locations in the world for life sciences, with the industry worth £3 billion a year to the Scottish economy and employs an estimated 32,500 staff. 

However, companies have highlighted problems in recruiting graduates with the practical knowledge necessary to work in what is a highly regulated industry.

BioSKAPE, which has been developed by SULSA with the support of Bioindustry Association Scotland,and the Life Sciences Advisory Board (LiSAB), will facilitate a number of new initiatives. 

It will see the introduction of an industry-partnered PhD programme that will address skills needs and promote industry-academia collaboration, a pilot academia-industry people-exchange programme, and a new series of industry-academia masterclasses and technology showcases. 

The SFC will also support a 12-month industry placement scheme for undergraduate students at the University of Aberdeen and the SULSA partners through a £380,000 award announced last month. 

Michael Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, said:  "The considerable economic benefits of the impressive projects that will benefit from this funding are beyond doubt. Students benefit from industry expertise and knowledge, informing their research and development, while industry staff will be able to develop their skills no matter what stage their career is at. 

"Our universities have an important role to play in helping us emerge strongly from the current economic downturn. As well as ensuring our people have the skills they need as individuals and to grow our economy, they are also businesses in their own right, generating around £2 billion a year. They support research and development in the business community and attract young people to live and work in Scotland." 

Dr Liz Rattray, Deputy Director, Research & Innovation, University of Aberdeen and Project Manager for BioSKAPE- , said: ""The £1.26 million funding which is being awarded from the SFC will be an enormous boost to the University of Aberdeen and SUSLA. 

"Knowledge and people exchange is a powerful mechanism to advance collaborative projects and bridge the cultural barriers between industry and academia. Our initial call for projects for the PhD programme has had overwhelming support from industry."  

Dr Jennifer Bell, Executive Director of SULSA, said "The six SULSA universities are delighted to have this opportunity to work with industry to create new partnerships and new training opportunities for life scientists in industry and academia." 

The University is also involved in three other projects included in today's funding announcement: 

Schemes to benefit from the SFC funding: 

Life Sciences - BioSKAPE led by the University of Aberdeen on behalf of SULSA (£1.26 million), INSPIRE led by the University of Dundee
(£1 million), Translational imaging led by the University of Edinburgh (£1.12 million);

Creative Industries - Moving targets: new models for new media audiences in the creative media industries, led by the University of Abertay (£1.1 million);

Energy - Crystallisation science excellence for manufacturing technologies, led by the University of Glasgow (£709,900), Mathematical methods to support the integration of renewables into the electricity network, led by Heriot-Watt University (£64,671), Low Carbon Housing led by Edinburgh Napier University (£465,513), the Scottish Energy Research Academy led by the University of Strathclyde (£1.2 million);

Financial and Business Services - the Scottish Financial Risk Academy led by Heriot-Watt University (£335,255); and

Food and Drink - PARABAN led by the Scottish Agricultural College (£808,250).


Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance (SULSA) was established in 2007 as a research pooling partnership between the Universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews and Strathclyde that is supported by the Scottish Funding Council. 

SULSA aims to maintain and advance Scotland's global position in the life sciences by recruiting international research leaders and funding world-class research facilities. SULSA also connects researchers across Scotland through events and collaborative PhD studentships.



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