Leading entrepreneurs selected for prestigious Royal Society scheme

Two north-east entrepreneurs will take part in a scheme where they will work on projects to boost the University of Aberdeen's industrial links and inspire its staff and students to become the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

Paddy Collins, Chief Technology Officer at Aberdeenshire-based energy firm Aubin Group, and Steve Aitken, who founded and runs the leading industrial data analytics company Intelligent Plant, have been selected for the Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR) scheme.

It is the first time the University has successfully applied to host candidates to the prestigious year-long scheme, which allows experienced industrial scientists and entrepreneurs to spend one day a week at a university, developing projects that promote innovation and encourage entrepreneurship.

Mr Collins’ project – the Energy Transition Enabler – will be based within the School of Engineering but will see him work across academic disciplines to help turn the University’s energy transition-related research into commercial opportunities.

It will act as a ‘bridge’ between industry and the University, exploring how its research expertise in engineering and the physical sciences can help businesses meet the opportunities of the energy transition – while helping them overcome technical challenges and encouraging the creation of new spinout businesses from the University.

Mr Aitken’s project – The Bridges Project – will help students and staff at the University’s School of Natural & Computing Sciences develop their entrepreneurial expertise, inspiring students to start their own software businesses, while strengthening the University’s industrial ties.

It will do this by developing knowledge on how to commercialise research, while working with staff on the development of a new course, as well as adding enhancements to existing courses.

Paddy Collins commented: “Aberdeen and the north-east of Scotland are at a crossroads. The area’s future economic prosperity requires that technology and knowledge created in oil and gas development is repurposed to tackle the energy transition. I am very encouraged that this has been recognised by the Royal Society and I am looking forward to working with the University and the business community to help create an exciting Net Zero future.”

Steve Aitken said: “It is a real privilege to have been chosen for this and to have the support of the Royal Society – only a few people get the chance to take on these positions each year.  I feel very excited about what we can do together and hope with the support of the school, and the University to build long lasting bridges with industry.”

Professor Peter Edwards, Vice-Principal Regional Engagement and Regional Recovery at the University of Aberdeen, said:

“The Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence scheme is highly selective, and it is a testament to the strength and vision of their proposals that Steve and Paddy were chosen to take part.

“They are both long-term supporters of the University, having been involved in research collaborations and placement opportunities for our students, and I am delighted that our students and staff are set to benefit further from their expertise and knowledge.

“The University is committed to making an effective contribution to our region’s economy, and it is through initiatives such as the EiR – encouraging commercialisation and entrepreneurship among our students and staff – that we aim to create new business opportunities and equip the students of today with the skills to become the entrepreneurs of the future.”

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