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Engineering the 21st century Portfolio


Business Technology


Technology Innovation Centre


Will Peakin Business Correspondent


By capitalising on leading research, a new centre aims to help create indigenous businesses of the future and high value jobs and attract inward investment


Last autumn, Scottish Enterprise’s


Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS) announced it had reached the 500 mark in the number of companies supported since its launch in 2005, a period during which £56m was added to their bottom line, thanks to the initiative which aims to improve business processes. Its former director Steve Graham, who left last summer, would have taken some satisfaction from the achievement. But he had a new focus; as executive director of Strathclyde University’s grandly titled


Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC), Graham is now tasked with delivering what First Minister Alex Salmond has described as a “transformational project” which will help “engineer the technologies of the 21st century”. In his five years at SMAS, Graham,


who previously worked for ICI and Allied Distillers, established an enviable reputation for getting results: “Steve is a very concise individual, he cuts through the crap,” one senior engineer observed. “I’ve seen a lot of people who have come out of the private sector who have found the public sector a difficult arena to operate in. Steve isn’t like that. He has made it his business to find out how to operate in this new terrain. I have toured the country from Inverness to the Borders talking to manufacturers and I’m gobsmacked; nobody has a bad word to say about SMAS or about the job Steve is doing.” In his mid-forties, Graham was brought


up in Corstorphine, the son of a joiner and an accountant. He studied chemistry at Heriot Watt before joining ICI and working throughout Europe. He returned to Scotland in 2002, joining Allied Distillers in Dumbarton as its supply chain commercial director. When Pernod Ricard bought Allied in 2005, he took the post at SMAS, newly


created by the previous Scottish Executive and which was subsequently boosted by the SNP administration. During his time at SMAS, Graham worked closely with the university on research designed to support Scotland’s advance into high-value manufacturing. Strathclyde has established an international reputation for research excellence, bringing together industry and academia to develop solutions to challenges in energy, renewable technologies, advanced engineering and pharmaceutical manufacturing. Te £89m centre will aim to transform


the way universities, business and industry collaborate and provide a global competitive advantage to Scotland. It will bring together 850 academics, researchers and project managers from the university and its leading industrial partners to work side-by-side in a state of the art building in the heart of Glasgow. Together, they will find solutions to challenges in sectors central to economic regeneration in Scotland and further afield, including power and energy, photonics and sensors, advanced engineering, pharmaceutical manufacturing and bio-nano systems. It is supported by Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Funding Council and is already attracting interest from major international companies, with its first partners including Scottish and Southern Energy, ScottishPower


28 March 2011 Holyrood 53


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