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Scottish SMEs to get free research and development

24 April 2013

Scottish companies too small to have their own R&D departments can now get free help from engineering design students at Heriot-Watt University.

Now in its fourth year, the Company-Led Engineering Design challenge allows companies to benefit from energetic and enthusiastic, final-year students who can often bring a fresh perspective to a problem, while engineering students get direct, hands-on experience.

In effect, companies that are too small to have their own in-house R&D team, get intensive, free of charge expertise from a team of students, each one of who spends around 150 hours on the project.

The current programme opened on 18 April for submissions from companies seeking a commercial solution to a real-life engineering problem.

Last year’s programme saw 95 students working on 19 separate projects for 17 different companies. The projects come in all shapes and sizes, from designing a prototype for an underwater electricity generating turbine, to a new saddle for a horse trekking company.

The programme is led by Theodore Lim, Lecturer in Mechanical, Process & Energy Engineering at Heriot-Watt’s School of Engineering and Physical Sciences. He said “The programme is going from strength to strength as word spreads among companies that have taken part.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to roll up their sleeves, get stuck into a real-life problem, develop their skills and make a real difference to a business.

“Both sides benefit, particularly where companies have a special project with a clear remit and a defined outcome they’re looking to achieve.”

The programme closes to applications from companies on 15 August 2013, when the student teams will be selected and matched with suitable projects.

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