The SRPe Vision
Scotland has a glorious past in science and engineering, both in legendary figures such as Kelvin, James Watt, Logie-Baird, Telford and Maxwell and in being at the forefront of the industrial revolution, particularly in textiles, shipbuilding and marine engineering. Unfortunately, this engineering success and the prosperity it brought were eroded in the early 20th century by the emergence of foreign suppliers and because Scotland lacked sufficient innovation and was over-dependent on a narrow set of industries. Unlike other countries in Europe, Scotland did not succeed well in newer areas such as electrical engineering, vehicle manufacturing, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. There are many reasons for this failure, such as Scotland’s small, conservative and non-affluent home market and its geographical remoteness. However, in the late 20th century, success in attracting high technology companies from abroad together with North Sea Oil produced a revival in Scottish engineering. The high technology companies, notably in microelectronics, office machinery, computers, and radio and communications equipment recently contributed about 40% of Scotland’s exports. Together with Scotland’s successes in financial and business services, this has been a huge boost to Scotland’s economy.
Scottish Research Partnership Organisation
Against this background, the vision of the SRPe is to provide stronger and wider leadership and technology strategy to promote the creation of critical mass and the use of this to promote Scotland’s future strength within the globalised world economy. The SRPe aims to enhance the success of the Regional Partnerships and their institutes, and also to enhance the image of Scottish engineering to help attract leading researchers and collaborations in research and to attract the investment, industrial engagement and entrepreneurship needed to actualise innovation. For the SRPe, the overall strategy will be to promote the creation of a critical mass of intellectual excellence. This will be through the development, at Regional Partnership and institutional level, of an integrated, focussed mass of top class researchers, in specific areas, underpinned and extended through national and international networks in science and innovation. In all respects, the key test will be to evidence added value, enhanced quality, and a significant contribution to the issues identified above.
To realise this vision the SRPe has a number of aims and activities:
- To set an effective, efficient and responsive strategic direction for engineering research across Scotland
- To provide leadership and direction in addressing significant global challenges through its pan-Scotland research themes
- To work with other pooling initiatives to provide complementary skills and expertise and to encourage innovation in cross-disciplinary areas such as biomedicine and life sciences.
- To promote and encourage activities to increase engagement with partners outside academia, such as government agencies, industry partners and funding bodies
- To promote the developing and training of the next generation of engineers and scientists to work in industry, government and academia with the right skills in key areas and the ability to realise innovation and economic success.
- To offer a broader and more relevant doctoral-level training with increased recognition of the need for and value of industry-relevant knowledge and skills
- To generate a larger, powerful UK and global footprint in important research areas.
- To greatly improve the engineering research profile for Scotland
- To establish an environment to attract and maintain leading researchers
- To establish a critical mass of researchers in key areas
- To promote collaboration in engineering research between the universities of Scotland
- To establish a collaborative approach to infrastructure
- To lead to an efficient and effective management strategy for university research in Scotland
- To stimulate an increase in science-based engineering research in Scotland
Working with Industry
The SRPe aims to complement the mission of other key public sector organisations including the Scottish Funding Council, the research councils and notably the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Innovate UK in the pursuit of connecting world-class research to national economic development strategies. The SRPe vision is well aligned with the Mission of these organisations and the disciplinary focus on engineering and physical sciences. The balance of R&D in our regional engineering pools and within the agreed pan-Scotland themes reflects the need to
pull through the SRPe research outcomes to exploitable IP in domains acknowledged as international priorities. These pan Scotland themes include: energy technologies; technologies for high value manufacturing and forming; communications technologies; engineering at the life sciences interface; and, civil engineering.
The SRPe intends to have strong industrial interactions and R&D partnerships that provide pathways to commercial exploitation of research outcomes, that provide training opportunities for our researcher communities and that link our research activities to demonstration and deployment facilities in order to maximise the value of this major public investment.