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Scotland’s Commercialisation and Research Asset Base (SCARAB)


The report aimed to produce a mapping study of Scotland’s Commercialisation and Research Asset Base (SCARAB), focusing on the research activity ‘hotspots’ in Scotland, and on those aspects of the research base which: have the greatest potential for commercialisation; aid the growth and development of the Scottish Enterprise (SE) Priority Industries (tourism, food and drink, financial services, life sciences, energy, digital markets and enabling technologies, textiles, aerospace, defence and marine, chemical sciences, construction and forest industries); and raise the rate of economic growth in Scotland. The report also examined the research capacity and collaboration of Scotland’s academic infrastructure.


The methodology consisted of: a literature review of published reports, relevant data and SE and Scottish Government policy documents; secondary data analysis and evaluation in respect of research activity and quality; and consultations with commercialisation managers, SE University Relationship Managers, Scottish Development International (SDI), and directors of the SE Priority Industry Teams.


The report finds that Scotland’s universities deliver world class research well beyond the volumes expected for a small country, and yet business research and development (R&D) lags behind most comparator developed economies. Nearly 9,000 staff are actively involved in around £600 million of Higher Education Institutes (HEI) research each year, with just over £33 million funded from commercial sources. Research activity is concentrated in historic locations or urban areas. The south of Scotland and the Highlands and Islands fare badly from investment in HEI research, compounded by low business and government spend on R&D. Energy stands out as an area where university research, commercial activity and job creation potential are well-aligned. However, Scotland’s economy is dominated by Priority Industries with a low propensity to generate or demand R&D, such as tourism, food and drink and financial services. Scotland’s academia has extensive collaborative partnerships with academic and commercial partners from around the world. The report suggests that the scale and scope of SE support for commercialisation of research is considerable.


The report recommends that SE, the Scottish Funding Council and the Scottish Government should explore incentives to locate research in weaker regions with low GVA and provide greater encouragements of linkages between local employers and relevant research active HE elsewhere in Scotland. Scotland should ensure that its energy-related academic base exploits the opportunity to develop technology to combat the global energy crisis and the threat of climate change.

Author Richard March, Paul Wheelhouse, DTZ
Published Year 2010
Report Type Research
  • Enterprise
    Sector-level support