Guest Blog: Curbing Costs with Innovation

Lorraine Thomson tells us how Interface have helped companies in the cost of living crisis

This is a challenging time for organisations all over Scotland affected by the cost crisis and steep hikes in the many areas of running a business. Business owners are needing to identify creative ways to address these challenges of growth and survival. Interface can support business by catalysing connections between business and universities.

Expertise and insights from individuals within the Scottish academic ecosystem can support current business operations by helping to validate cost saving ideas, reduce waste and streamline processes. Interface is a free, impartial service which facilitates access to academic expertise, research, technologies, specialist facilities, and funding. Here, I look at how reviewing energy costs can strengthen commitment to sustainability, how by-products can be turned into profits, and how university facilities can make cost savings.

Looking at how energy is used is a good starting point for many businesses.

Luxury knitwear manufacturer Johnstons of Elgin wanted to analyse its energy use across the main business units of dyes, weaving, logistics, finishing and yarns, as it was difficult to differentiate the exact energy costs associated with each of these utilities.

A partnership with Heriot Watt University resulted in a PhD student reviewing strategies to enable the company to reduce energy costs and market the carbon footprint in each area of the business.

Since then, the company’s commitment to sustainability has been recognised with a Queen’s Award for its 360-degree approach to sustainability and leading the way in ethical manufacturing.

Using by-products as an additional income stream is another way of helping balance the books.

Ayrshire-based W&J Knox Ltd, the UK’s largest manufacturer of nets for the salmon farming industry, was looking for expertise to analyse the nutrient-rich waste produced when nets are cleaned to establish if a new product could be created.

Interface connected them to Abertay University, who investigated how useful materials could be extracted from the waste and now, instead of going to landfill, tonnes of salvaged protein and oil is turned into fish, pig and chicken feed.

Accessing university facilities can also help businesses curb costs.

Cycling performance innovators Flaér contacted Interface when in the last stages of testing a new chain system, requiring access to full wind tunnel facilities and expertise. Interface was able to find the support required in a cost-effective way which led to improved processes, new products, and an increase in overall productivity and turnover.

83% of businesses we have worked with record reduced operating costs, increased productivity, profits, exports, turnover, and new or safeguarded employment.

Funding projects with academics can be an important consideration, and Interface is well-placed to advise on currently available grants and funding programmes open to businesses or academic partners.

Find out how we can help at or contact us at or on 0845 013 0536.

About Interface

Interface connects organisations and academia. Based regionally throughout Scotland with connections into all Scotland’s universities, research institutes and colleges Interface works with organisations of all sizes, in all sectors, to match them to world-leading academic expertise, research, technologies and specialist facilities to help them grow. For more information visit

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