Converge project has made a major contribution to the Scottish economy

A reception at Edinburgh Castle last night [05.03.2013] marked the official end of a programme that pioneered a distinctive approach to industry engagement and is now widely acknowledged as a model of best practice within the Scottish university sector.

End of Converge Event in Edinburgh

End of Converge Event in Edinburgh

The Converge project – funded by the European Regional Development Fund – was initiated in 2009 to create a world-leading resource for the University to forge links with industry; exchange knowledge; develop businesses and create jobs in Scotland.

A key aim of the project was to develop long term relationships with partners in industry and to specifically address their individual needs. The Heriot-Watt Business Development team acted as a first port of call – an interface between the companies and the University’s research teams.

Through Converge the University has worked on collaborative projects with companies of varying sizes, from micro companies through to large multinationals in a diverse spectrum of sectors, from high value manufacturing to energy and food and drink. The Engineering Design placements exemplify the approach. They are small, company-led research and design projects that companies give to students to manage. Last year’s programme saw 95 students working on 19 separate projects for 17 different companies including MacPhie of Glenbervie, MacTaggart Scott and STATS Group. The value of these projects has been recognised by oilfield service giant, Baker Hughes, which this year sponsored awards for participating students.

The ERDF funding was used to hire staff who undertook four main areas of activity: Entrepreneurship; Business Development; Marketing and Enterprise Creation through university spin-outs and the successful Converge Challenge, now Scotland’s largest university start-up competition. The results have been impressive:

  • The total collaborative value of the project is £8million and it has supported 250 enterprises and the creation      of 30 new products
  • 25 new companies have been created in just over 3 years, raising a total of £1.2m investment
  • Businesses helped by Converge expect to increase their turnover by £14.1 million and attribute £5.1 million of this increase directly to the University’s business development team
  • These businesses expect to create an extra 146 jobs over the next 3 years
  • If activity supported by the Converge project is sustained, then the project is expected to contribute an additional £36.6m GVA per year to the Scottish economy
Professor Alan Miller, Deputy Principal, Research and Enterprise Services speech

Professor Alan Miller, Deputy Principal, Research and Enterprise Services speech

Speaking at the launch, Professor Alan Miller, Deputy Principal, Research and Enterprise Services said:

“These collaborations have been truly symbiotic. For our partners they have led to new products, services, increased turnover and new jobs. Heriot-Watt has enjoyed publishable results, the opportunity to contribute research expertise; new licenses and long-term collaborative opportunities for academics. We wanted to create a world-leading resource for Heriot-Watt to be able to quickly and effectively respond to enquiries from industry. I think we can safely say – mission accomplished.”

JournalTOCs – Gaining ground as one of the most talked about ‘Freebies’ on the net

Helping keep researchers up-to-date with information that matters to them, JournalTOCs – the largest free and searchable collection of academic journal Tables of Contents (TOCs) in the world – is now available for license from Heriot-Watt University.

JournalTOCs Table of Contents Searching Engine for Journals

JournalTOCs Table of Contents Searching Engine for Journals

Academics, researchers and companies face increasing difficulties keeping up to date with cutting edge research; JournalTOCs pulls together a database of TOCs from academic journals and provides a convenient ‘one stop shop’ interface to their content allowing subscribers to access the latest research in their fields in a convenient and personalised current awareness service.

JournalTOCs was developed at Heriot-Watt University’s Institute for Computer Based Learning (ICBL) in 2009 with funding from the JISC Rapid Innovation Grants but is now an independent service which, this year alone, has agreed license deals with 8 companies worldwide.

Gary Price, Co-Founder & Editor, Library Journal’s said ‘….JournalTOCS is a powerful alerting tool for use by just about every online researcher. It’s also an excellent example of the work info pros are doing to help organize the web and make it more accessible and useful to everyone. What’s also wonderful is that using JournalTOCS is free’.

Free registration allows users to build a tailored collection of journal titles and receive email alerts when new journal issues are published. Customized versions for institutions allow for more functionality and are available at very economic license rates. This service is especially suitable for research, commercial and institutional libraries, and resource centers worldwide1.

To see how JournalTOCs could help you, please visit

or follow JournalTOCs on Twitter @JournalTOCs

For more information on what Heriot Watt’s Technology Transfer Office can offer, please visit:


Industry Day Speaker – Prof. Peter Woodward

Peter Woodward, Professor of Railway Geotechnical Engineering and Director of the newly launched Institute for Infrastructure and Environment, to speak at Industry Day 2013 on the topic “The geotechnical challenges and solutions of next generation ultra-speed trains

Prof. Peter Woodward

Prof. Peter Woodward

Railway Research at Heriot-Watt University is led by Professor Peter Woodward, who has been involved in rail track developments for over a decade.

Peter and his team investigate the main issues for modern rail networks which include the need to cope with more traffic, heavier loads and higher speeds. These demands are common across the world and academics at the School of the Built Environment are at the forefront of industrially relevant research in the UK for solving these issues.

  • Prof. Woodward was appointed to the post of Lecturer in Geotechnical Engineering in 1994 at Heriot-Watt University and to the post of Reader in Railways and Geotechnical Engineering in 2007. In 2010 he was promoted to Professor of Railway Geotechnical Engineering
  • Since 2001 he has been seconded to industry for 1 day per week working on the application of polyurethane geocomposites to railway track stabilisation and reinforcement. This patented technology was spun-out from Heriot-Watt University and is now widely used across the UK railways and increasingly internationally.
  • He has won multiple awards for his developed technologies, including the Highly Commended Award at the 2005 National Rail Awards, in the Innovation of the Year category.
  • He has also been a previous winner of the ICE Webb Prize (2008) and the UK Young Engineers Award (2001) amongst others.
  • He has acted as Principal Investigator on many research grants, most recently on EPSRC funded research on high-speed train track interactions at critical track velocities.

Peter will talk in Parallel Session 4 – Networks & Infrastructure. To book your place on Industry Day, click here.

Industry Day Speaker – Dr Frédéric Bosché

Dr. Frédéric Bosché, Heriot-Watt Lecturer in Construction Management and Surveying from the School of Built Environment will discuss “Dimensional control in the age of BIM” at our 2013 Industry Day in Parallel Session 2 – Materials and Design Technology.

Dr. Frédéric Bosché

Dr. Frédéric Bosché

Dr. Bosché’s main research focus until now has been on the extraction of as-built information from data and its visualization for construction and facility management. Such information is critical to decision making and project delivery, and its visualization is important for effective communication among project stakeholders.

Frédéric graduated in 2004 with a MSc degree in Construction Engineering and Project Management from the University of Texas, Austin as well as a MEng degree in Engineering from the Ecole Centrale de Lille, France.

After a short period of work in the construction industry in France, he then returned to university and obtained a PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Waterloo, Canada in 2008.

He then joined the Computer Vision group of ETH Zurich, Switzerland, where he worked for two years on multiple projects with focus on image-based 3D reconstruction for urban and Cultural Heritage modelling (FP7 3D-COFORM and V-City projects).

In 2011, Frédéric became a Lecturer at the Institute of Building and Urban Design within the School of the Built Environment at Heriot-Watt University.

Register for Industry Day 2013 – Sustainable Development: Infrastructure Challenges and Solutions on the 26th February – by clicking here.

Industry Day Speaker – Prof. Dorte Rich Jorgensen

Prof. Jorgensen has worked on the Olympic Park site for the London Olympics as Sustainability Manager for Atkins, and is a Visiting Professor at Heriot-Watt University.

Heriot-Watt’s Industry Day is proud to announce Professor Jorgensen as a plenary speaker. She will talk in the parallel session “Networks and Infrastructure”.

Prof. Jorgensen also works as Sustainability Manager for Atkins in London, where she worked with the infrastructure design team on the Olympic Park site in East London. She is also a member of the leading Built Environment think-tank ‘EDGE’, and is the CIBSE representative on the Construction Industry Council diversity panel.

Dorte Rich Jorgensen

Professor Dorte Rich Jorgensen

Since 2011, Prof. Jorgensen has been the Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor in Innovation at Heriot-Watt University. This role involves working with the staff of the Architectural Engineering and Civil Engineering disciplines within the School of Built Environment, undertaking a series of lectures, seminars and tutorials as well as contributing to curriculum development and the enhancement of teaching practice to support innovation.

Dorte has more than 20 years’ experience of successfully integrating sustainable principles into built environment and infrastructure schemes on a range of cutting-edge and award-winning projects, and brings a unique practice-based perspective to the School’s undergraduate and postgraduate teaching.

Dorte’s doctorate studies at Oxford were related to improving energy efficiency through automating the commissioning process and whilst a student she founded the graduate common room at Balliol College, Oxford.

To learn more about Heriot-Watt’s Industry Day, Sustainable Development: Infrastructure Challenges and Solutions, click here.


73k to aid produced water reinjection new tool will tackle industry-wide challenges

LUX Innovate Ltd and Heriot-Watt University have secured £73,000 from the government-backed Technology Strategy Board to test the feasibility of a novel technology for monitoring produced water for reinjection.

LUX is one of 13 small and medium-sized businesses that will share in funding of approx £1 million from the UK’s innovation agency for feasibility studies that aim to accelerate new technologies likely to enhance production and asset reliability within the oil and gas sector.

Heriot Watt and Lux Innovate


Oilfield produced fluids are produced during oil and gas extraction. These fluids can be complex, often containing oil, solids, treatment chemicals and microbes. It is becoming common practise to re-inject this fluid into the well to assist with the recovery of crude oil, although components in the produced fluids can cause problems, for example, by blocking the reservoir.

Current monitoring of the fluid is laborious and complex, requiring skilled personnel. The LUX MOTEYE™ project will work over the next year to develop an easy-to-use tool to analyse the produced water, with Heriot-Watt academics providing data analysis expertise. It is expected that the tool will enable more effective and cost-efficient management of the fluid.

Emma Perfect, Managing Director at LUX Innovate Ltd, said:

“We are delighted to receive Technology Strategy Board funding to develop this tool which will greatly assist in enhanced oil recovery. As over 70% of the world’s oil and gas production comes from fields over 30 years old, approaches such as produced water re-injection are growing in significance for the North Sea and beyond. Working in close collaboration with Heriot-Watt University will be key to this project’s success.”

Professor David Corne, of the Intelligent Systems Laboratory at Heriot-Watt University, said:

“Heriot-Watt has a significant track record of working with industry across different energy generation technologies. Our team at the Intelligent Systems Lab increasingly works with engineers and the industry in these areas, and we are excited to be involved in this challenging and innovative project to enhance recovery in the oil and gas sector.”

Funding for Heriot-Watt to support further industry collaboration

Heriot-Watt has received £1.18m funding allocated to the University to help to build on the University’s already strong links with business and industry.

The funding, which has been provided by EPSRC under their Impact Acceleration Account programme, is part of a £60m funding package announced made by Business Secretary Vince Cable and designed to help support universities’ best scientists and engineers to deliver greater collaboration with industry, bridge the gap between the lab and the marketplace, and help them become better entrepreneurs.

Impact Acceleration is designed to support the very early stage of turning research outputs into a commercial proposition, the ‘Valley of death’ between a research idea and developing it to a stage where a company or venture capitalist might be interested. It will also allow universities to fund secondments for scientists and engineers to spend time in a business environment: improving their knowledge and skills and returning to the lab with a better understanding of the way companies operate and the challenges they face.

Alan Miller, Deputy Principal (Research & Knowledge Transfer) at Heriot-Watt, said, “We are delighted to have received this funding which will be used to help support those trying to increase the Impact of their research.

“The funding will be allocated on a competitive basis to tie in with the University’s key strategic aims and builds on our £6.5m working with industry project which has, over the last three years, transfered knowledge and expertise to Scottish businesses, benefited the wider economy and fostered partnerships as well as creating 300 private sector jobs and supporting the development of 17 new companies through the Converge Challenge competition, run by the University.”

Launching the fund, which will provide a total of £60m to 31 universities across the UK, the Business Secretary said, “The UK’s scientists are some of the most innovative and creative people in the world, but they need support to take their best ideas through to market. This could be by establishing a successful, technology-driven SME like Space Syntax which I visited today.

“This investment I’m announcing today will help our leading universities become centres of innovation and entrepreneurship, generating commercial success to fuel growth.”

This investment will help Heriot-Watt to continue to work with industry and develop new technologies, some of which, as in the video below, has a direct impact on on people’s lives.

Heriot-Watt scientists hail artificial liver breakthrough – an end to animal testing?

Scientists at Heriot-Watt University are working towards creating the world’s first artificial human livers for drug testing to drastically cut the number of live animals used and get life-saving medicines into the clinic faster.

Alan Faulkner-Jones, part of the Heriot-Watt team, with the new artificial liver cells. Picture: Colin Hattersley

Alan Faulkner-Jones, part of the Heriot-Watt team, with the new artificial liver cells. Picture: Colin Hattersley


Dr Will Shu is leading the Heriot-Watt University team in the £100,000 project. Working closely with Roslin Cellab, the team aims to demonstrate how an artificial liver, created using human cells, could become a new testing platform for drug discovery and development.

The team is working towards creating miniature human liver tissues and, eventually, ‘livers-on-a-chip’, using novel technology that will ‘print’ the cells in 3D onto testing surfaces.

Dr Will Shu said, “If we are able to advance this technique, the medical benefits could be enormous.”

Testing new drugs currently requires large numbers of experimental animals. This work is expensive, time-consuming and is often inconclusive since drugs that pass animal testing usually fail during the even more expensive clinical stages of development, when the first human subjects are used.

Dr Jason King of Roslin Cellab said, “If successful, this technology will enable drug developers to test using human organ models at a much earlier stage. It should highlight drug failures well before they reach the clinic and help target resources towards the most promising new drug candidates.”

There is growing interest in the cell-printing technique from scientists internationally because 3D cells, such as those being developed by Dr Shu’s team, outperform cells grown in 2D cultures, which until now have been the standard in the drug development sector.

The research is currently funded by the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA) INSPIRE programme.

Roslin Cellab is a Roslin Foundation company that offers contract research and is now using human cells to develop liver models for pre-clinical testing.

To read more, please visit the report on the Scotland on Sunday by clicking here.

Nobel prize winner on climate change announced as keynote speaker for Industry Day 2013

Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on whose behalf he accepted the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, has been announced as keynote speaker for the Heriot-Watt University Industry Day 2013.

Dr Rajendra Pachauri


Dr Pachauri has been Chairperson of the IPCC since 2002, and is well known for his commitment to highlighting the major issues surrounding climate change, especially regarding the implications to poorer nations. In 2007 he accepted the Nobel Peace prize on behalf of the IPCC, sharing it that year with Al Gore.

His opening keynote speech will reflect the theme of Heriot-Watt’s Industry Day – Sustainable Development: Infrastructure Challenges and Solutions, on the 26th February 2013.

Listen to a discussion with Dr Pachauri recorded by the BBC in 2009:

BBC discussion with Dr Pachauri.

The day will be split into four parallel sessions:

1 – Meeting the hydro-nation and hydro-neutral challenge

2 -Networks and Infrastructure

3 – Materials and design technology

4 – Energy conservation and usage in the homes of the future

A full line-up of speakers from academia and industry will be announced here in due course, to register click below

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