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Innovation in Scotland

Innovation can mean the difference between success and failure for a business. Scotland provides the perfect ecosystem for innovation, with the right skills and expertise, strong networks and commitments from universities.

A culture of innovation

Scotland’s long tradition of innovation remains as strong today as it ever has been. Smart, profitable ideas flow from the broad mix of multinational firms based here, and from the diverse business, academic and technology communities that support them.
From the telephone to the ATM, penicillin to the colour photograph, Scotland has claim to a lot of great inventions and discoveries. Today, innovation is felt, taught and incorporated across the whole of Scottish life, work and play.
We’re working on ground-breaking innovative products and services – like thermal imaging that helps robots detect humans, flat-packed building blocks made from recycled plastic, molecular imaging technology, revolutionary malaria treatment and biofuel made from whisky by-products.
New research from Knight Frank has named Edinburgh as Britain’s most innovative city outside of London, with Glasgow hot on its heels in second place.
The UK Cities 2022 report opens in a new window  also highlighted Aberdeen as a leading business hub due to its strong innovation infrastructure and emerging startup ecosystem.

Giving the green light for spinouts

Scotland’s innovative culture means that more university spinouts are created here than anywhere else in the UK – including London. All 19 of our universities are committed to supporting spinouts, for example by motivating their academics to form spinouts, providing access to intellectual property and supporting activities across all sectors.


Scotland's Innovation Centres and Centres of Excellence

In Scotland, great ideas are nurtured. Across all industries and technologies, our innovation centres and centres of excellence exist to help businesses do incredible things. Here’s a flavour of the ways our centres can help you.

Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS) 

AMIDS is leading the way in collaborative innovation. A net zero campus housing institutes of excellence, major research centres, international manufacturers and business park infrastructure.

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National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) 

Industry-led manufacturing R&D facilities, providing ground-breaking collaborations to transform productivity levels, competitiveness and skills.

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ARCHER – national supercomputing service

Based in the University of Edinburgh, this £43 million service offers access the UK’s primary academic research supercomputer.

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National Centre of Excellence for Computer Games 

Based at Abertay university this centre of excellence is at the forefront of education and research. It offers cross-disciplinary Masters programmes rated Best in Europe by Princeton Review opens in a new window  

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Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre

One of the leading supercomputing centres in Europe and provider of training in high performance computing. Internationally renowned for all aspects of data research.

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QuantIC is hosted at the University of Glasgow and is part of a £120m network of four quantum technology hubs across the UK. The Glasgow hub focuses on quantum imaging and brings together 120 researchers and over 30 industry partners to revolutionise imaging across markets.  

Through industrial collaboration, QuantIC can offer access to leading academics in quantum imaging, various funding streams and lab and hot-desking facilities. 

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Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence (GOFCE) at the University of Edinburgh

This world-first centre has secured £55 million funding to develop financial technology and education to deliver social and economic benefits around the world. This will include how best to use open finance, the sharing of consenting customers' data between different financial businesses.

The university will partner with the Financial Data and Technology Association (FDATA) and FinTech Scotland and draw on expertise from academia, financial services and fintech businesses.

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Edinburgh International Data Facility

The University of Edinburgh has teamed up with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to build Europe’s first region-wide data innovation hub that will offer R&D resources to unlock solutions to global problems across science, healthcare, climate change and more.

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Centre for Sensors and Imaging Systems (CENSIS)

Working to develop effective solutions using sensor, imaging and internet of things (IoT) technologies bridging the gap between industry and universities.

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Urban Big Data Centre (UBDC)

Gives you access to data collections, tools, training and expertise from Scottish universities and other partners for improving cities worldwide.

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Bayes Centre

Home to more than 600 experts in data science and artificial intelligence, dedicated to nurturing innovation by advancing digital technology, space and satellites, robotics and autonomous systems.

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UK Astronomy Technology Centre

The UK's national centre for astronomical technology is based in Edinburgh and home to the Higgs Centre for Innovation opens in a new window  - a facility that supports startups and SMEs working in the space and data-intensive sectors, and encourages collaboration between researchers, engineers and post-graduate students.​

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The Data Lab

Supporting the Scottish digital economy and the use and innovation of data science.

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Fraunhofer UK Centre for Applied Photonics

The Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics (CAP), hosted at the University of Strathclyde, is leading an ambitious £10 million project to drive forward the development of faster, thumbnail-size technology using quantum physics.

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Abertay University is leading on a new £11.7m project to create a cyber security research and development centre. The cyberQuarter will be a cluster of academic and industry activity, offering expertise in applied research and access to a range of support for local businesses and public bodies.  

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Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security 

Scotland is home to a government approved Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research. Hosted by the University of Edinburgh, the Centre of Excellence specialises in developing the latest cyber security techniques and contributes to the UK’s increased knowledge and capability in this field.

Edinburgh is recognised by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) as meeting rigorous standards, including a critical mass of academic staff engaged in a significant volume of leading-edge, high-impact cyber security research.

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Blockchain Technology Lab 

Based within the Edinburgh School of Informatics, the lab carries out open access research in blockchain technologies and decentralized systems in collaboration with industry and government partners. The lab focuses on industry inspired challenges, studying topics such as cryptography, regulation and compliance, business and law. 

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Food Innovation @ Abertay 

A practical innovation support service offering specialist staff, equipment and facilities.

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Queen Margaret University

Hosts the Scottish Centre for Food Development and Innovation (SCFDI), which was established in response to demand for combined R&D and innovation space to support the sector in accessing export markets in the rapidly expanding global functional and healthy food sector.

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Scottish Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre

Supporting business and academics to transform Scottish aquaculture by unlocking sustainable growth through innovation.

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SEFARI: The Scottish Environment Food and Agriculture Research Institutes

A consortium of six globally renowned research institutes supporting agriculture, land use, food and rural communities.

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The International Centre for Brewing and Distilling 

A teaching and research facility within Heriot-Watt University, supplying the malting, brewing, distilling and allied industries with services, expertise and facilities.

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The James Hutton Institute

One of the biggest environmental and food science research centres in the UK and the first of its type in Europe, it employs more than 500 scientists and support staff. 

Two new plant science innovation centres are being developed at the James Hutton Institute's Tayside campus - the International Barley Hub and Advanced Plant Growth Centre. With completion expected in early 2024, the centres will bring together industry and world-leading science to focus on solutions for the food and drink industry regarding climate change and a green recovery from the Covid pandemic.

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The Rowett Institute

Part of the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition at the University of Aberdeen and widely considered to be a global leader in nutrition research.

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The Scotch Whisky Research Institute

The UK distilling industry’s research and technology organisation, carrying out research across the entire Scotch Whisky production process, from barley to bottle, as well as providing technical support and analytical and sensory services on whisky and other spirits.

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The International Barley Hub

World-leading centre at the James Hutton Institute near Dundee to translate excellence in barley research and innovation into economic, social and environmental benefits.

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BioHub - Aberdeen

A transformational £40 million BioHub project to double the size of north east Scotland’s high-growth life sciences company cluster has moved into its main construction phase.

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Digital Health Institute

Defining and designing the digital health and care future for a healthier Scotland.

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Edinburgh BioQuarter

Edinburgh BioQuarter is already a leading global destination for healthcare delivery, groundbreaking medical research and life sciences innovation and entrepreneurship.

BioQuarter's £1 billion masterplan will create Edinburgh’s Health Innovation District, a new vibrant mixed-use neighbourhood, ultimately supporting a community of more than 20,000 people. A global hub that will become home to healthcare innovators, honoured clinicians and academics, a global top-20 medical school, hospitals and a host of award-winning scientific research institutes.

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Industrial Biotechnology Centre

Enabling the transition into industrial biotechnology by helping companies understand sector opportunities.

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Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre

A new £56 million Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MMIC) is being built at the heart of the emerging Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS). The centre is a collaboration between CPI, University of Strathclyde, UK Research and Innovation, Scottish Enterprise and founding industry partners, AstraZeneca and GSK.

The UK innovation centre will revolutionise how medicines are manufactured and speed up the process of bringing new drugs to market. It aims to attract more than £80 million in research and development (R&D) investment by 2028. It will offer a unique service aimed at developing and adopting novel manufacturing techniques that pharma companies can use in their own manufacturing processes.

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Precision Medicine Living Lab

The Living Laboratory at the University of Glasgow’s Precision Medicine Living Lab has secured around £90 million funding and will set out to bring new science and innovation to a real-world clinical setting. 

Based next to the city's Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, it will foster cross-sector collaborations to exploit research for the benefit of patients.

It builds on Scotland's clinical and academic strengths within the life sciences community and Scotland’s reputation as a world leading centre of excellence in precision medicine. 

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Stratified Medicine Scotland

Bringing together clinicians, researchers and industry innovators to develop patient-specific medical innovation.

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Tayside Cities Regional Innovation Hub

The University of Dundee has received a £1 million grant from the Wolfson Foundation for its new innovation hub that will anchor new biomedical companies and jobs in the city. The grant will be used to fit out the hub with flexible laboratories and facilities needed by high-growth companies seeking to develop new medicines and medical technologies. Construction of the new hub will begin in 2022 and its scheduled to open in Autumn 2023.

The hub is part of a wider Growing the Tay Cities Bioemedical Cluster project opens in a new window  which has received initial funding of £25 million from the Scottish Government, £20 million of which has been earmarked for the development of the innovation hub.


Other centres of excellence improving health and care with data

Energy Technology Partnership

Scotland’s Energy Technology Partnership (ETP) is the largest most broad-based energy research partnership in Europe. The ETP is an autonomous alliance of 13 independent Scottish Higher Education Institutions providing world-class capability, resources and specialist expertise in renewable generation, energy conversion, storage, distribution and infrastructure. 

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Energy Transition Alliance

Ground-breaking collaboration to accelerate the energy transition focusing on floating wind for oil and gas production, increased renewables, hydrogen and carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS).

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European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC)

The EMEC in Orkney aims to reduce the time, cost, and risk associated with the development of marine energy technologies. It's the first and only centre of its kind in the world to provide developers of both wave and tidal energy converters (technologies that generate electricity by harnessing the power of waves and tidal streams) with purpose-built, accredited open-sea testing facilities. It's also a cutting-edge demonstration site for new hydrogen technologies.

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European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC)

The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) is Scotland’s largest offshore wind test and demonstration facility. Located in Aberdeen Bay, the innovative 93.2MW 11-turbine offshore wind scheme is trialling next generation technology and boosting the industry’s drive to competitive clean power.

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Hydrogen Accelerator

Enables effective and efficient implementation of hydrogen technologies into Scotland.

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Industrial Doctoral Centre in Offshore Renewable Energy (IDCORE)

A multi-disciplinary centre training engineers and scientists to tackle current and future offshore renewable energy challenges.

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Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc (MSIP)

Based in Dundee, MSIP provides an environment for innovation and R&D in sustainable mobility/transport. MSIP features excellent infrastructure, connectivity and space to grow as well as green energy and heat supplied from local sustainable sources.

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National HVDC Centre

Based in Cumbernauld, Scotland, the National HVDC Centre is the UK's only simulation and training facility designed to support and de-risk projects for all High Voltage Direct Current schemes connecting to the UK grid. This state-of-the-art facility ensures the integrity and security of the grid network.

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Net Zero Technology Centre

Cutting-edge innovation centre that develops and deploys technology to accelerate the transition to an affordable net zero energy industry. Also leads the Net Zero Solution Centre.

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Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult

Leading innovation centre with the world's most comprehensive, open-access test facilities, enabling the scale-up of offshore renewables. Also leads the

ORE Catapult Scotland has facilities in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Levenmouth.

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Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC)

Based at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, this venture was founded by government, industrial and academic partners. It aims to accelerate technology testing of distribution networks and smart grid innovations, including whole energy systems, heat and hydrogen.

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Water Technology Innovation

Hydro Nation Water Innovation Service supports companies to test and commercialise water related technology and bring it to market. It's a partnership between Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Water and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA). 

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Water Test Network is an Interreg-funded project giving companies access to water test facilities across north-west Europe. Scotland is now the best supported place in Europe for companies to carry out research and demonstration of water related technology.

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Construction Scotland

Building Scotland's exciting construction future through innovation and collaboration.

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UNESCO Centre for Water law, policy and science

Based at the University of Dundee, with a global reputation in research, trans-boundary water governance, integrated water and coastal zone management and climate adaptation.

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Funding for innovation

Innovation, research and development is key to Scotland’s growth, and that’s why we offer generous funding for innovative projects and businesses via Scottish Enterprise, Scotland's national economic development agency. As well as grant funding, Scottish Enterprise can help you access other forms of finance, such as investors.

If you’re planning on doing research and development work, Scotland is the ideal place.

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How we can help your business

We help companies look for new business models, new products and services and new market opportunities. Our experienced and connected innovation advisers help businesses break new ground. We stay ahead of the game across all industry sectors, so you'll invest in a business infrastructure that's innovative and dynamic, forward-thinking and high-achieving.

Contact us to find out how we could help you  

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