Dr Nadimul Faisal is Reader in the School of Engineering at Robert Gordon University. With a career spanning both academia and industry R&D and with four OGIC projects under his belt, he’s a great guide to Scotland’s innovation landscape and opportunities. We interviewed him to get some insights.
What makes Scotland a good place for industry-academic research?
Scotland is associated with notable scientists and engineers. Academic research in Scottish universities has an international reputation for excellence that delivers economic and social benefits for both Scotland and the wider world.
There is good financial support from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), support from UK-wide Research Councils, and various EU research programmes, and Scotland attracts a large pool of international academics and companies.
In addition, Robert Gordon University (RGU) and other Scottish universities are investing resources in entrepreneurship and innovation programmes (e.g. start-ups and spinouts).
And do you think this will continue to evolve?
The links between academia and industry will certainly improve over the next 10 years – both recognise the need to invest in innovative new solutions with global impact.
I expect further centres of excellence or research centres will be formed at Scottish universities, and Scotland will become an important hub of impactful research and innovation – in sectors such as oil & gas, renewable energy, biomedical technology, digital technologies and others.
Do you see good opportunities in oil & gas for researchers in your field?
Certainly, I see good opportunities in my own fields of interest – micromechanics, thermal spray coatings, sensor-based condition monitoring, corrosion monitoring and fracture mechanics, among others.
All these are applicable in oil & gas, in areas such as drilling and well technology, riser and pipeline design, including future drilling technologies for Arctic exploration.
What would be your advice for young researchers who want to take advantage of such opportunities, and work successfully on projects with industry?
Interdisciplinary technical skills in combination with project management skills are very important in delivering successful projects with industry – whether in oil & gas or other sectors.
In addition, understanding the client’s requirements, scoping the proposal or work packages with clear aims and objectives, agreeing the deliverables, time management, finding the right team, and a combination of risk management and soft skills can all help in delivering a project.
And any final parting advice for both businesses and academics?
I think the key thing for industry and researchers alike to remember is the need to build an effective working partnership, based on trust. Every innovation partnership is a team effort.