Inclusive Innovation

Supporting positive societal and environmental change

Our Inclusive Innovation programme provides third sector organisations with access to support and funding options to make ideas that do good a reality.

Through a series of free online events, we have demonstrated how enterprises across diverse sectors have grown their ideas to fruition and the positive impact this has had on business and planet.

Regardless of the type of enterprise you are (community enterprise, social enterprise, mission led business, or enterprising third sector organisation); the sector you work in; if you have an idea to grow or scale your impact; then the chances are we can help you to realise this.

View one or more of our online event recordings to hear how others have accessed Interface’s specialist knowledge to help their enterprises grow and achieve their desired outcomes. Meet the Interface team and shift your idea from concept to reality!

About the project

“Social innovation meets a societal need to tackle the challenges we face today in ways with greater efficiency and impact”. Glasgow Caledonian University

Working collaboratively, CEIS and Interface aim to facilitate and support new inclusive innovation in the social enterprise and enterprising third sectors in Scotland. The programme is designed to raise awareness of available opportunities for support for enterprises or individuals with innovative solutions for growth, sustainability or to address social and environmental problems within Scotland, and beyond.

Who we are


Established in 1984, CEIS Group is the UK’s largest and most experienced social enterprise support agency. Our vision is to make Scotland a better place to live and work with a more inclusive economy. We believe social enterprise and third sector organisations are key to the recovery and future sustainability of our planet; and we’re passionate about helping enterprises realise their potential by providing or sign-posting to the right resources, knowledge and tools.


Connecting social enterprises to Scotland’s world-leading academic expertise.

Interface works with individuals, social enterprises and organisations of all sizes and in all sectors, to match them to Scotland’s world-leading academic expertise to help them adapt, diversify and innovate. The Interface team unlocks this support for by offering free impartial support, facilitating collaborations, alongside helping to identify possible funding options that support academic partnerships from a wide range of public and private organisations.

Who is it for?

Social entrepreneurs, social enterprises and enterprising third sector organisations throughout Scotland who;

  • have an idea to create positive social or environmental change,
  • want to tap into new opportunities or
  • need support to grow or scale a community or social enterprise.

If you would like support with technical gaps, market research or fore sighting to help get your idea off the ground; and have the time and resource to dedicate to this, view a recording from one of our events below to hear more.

The Interface System - how it works

View our session recordings to learn more about the programme and hear from enterprises across a range of sectors, as well as some of the academics who supported projects to come to fruition.

  1. If you have an idea for social or environmental change and need support to create it, develop it and take it forward then you can contact Interface or CEIS directly
  2. The Interface Team will work with you to understand your goals and objectives; searching through all of Scotland’s Universities, colleges and research institutions to find the right partner to address your needs.
  3. Once Interface find you suitable academic partners they remain on hand to provide continuous support. Interface can also identify numerous funding opportunities to offset the cost of the project.

Next Steps

After attending one of our events, the Interface team will get in touch or you can contact them directly via their contact form. From there, the team will help you to:

Define the problem to be solved
Find the right innovation partner
Scope the project
Determine the right incentive or mechanism
Assist with contract agreement

Event calendar

View our session recordings to hear from a range of enterprises on how Interface has supported a diverse type, size and scale of projects to get off the ground and the results of these.

Thursday 22nd June: 1000 - 1100

Inclusive Innovation in partnership with Development Trusts Association Scotland (DTAS)

In this webinar we heard from Barbara Elborn, Secretary of Newcastleton & District Community Trust (NDCT). Barbara told how the Trust applied for Interface support via the Inclusive Innovation programme in September 2022 and how, in three months, they had received expert advice from the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) to develop a detailed proposal to enable the community to consider constructing genuinely affordable, low carbon houses for the community utilising timber from their community owned forest.

Session recording will be available soon.

Download the presentation

Wednesday 27th April: 1130 - 1230

Inclusive Innovation in partnership with Social Enterprise Scotland

At this session we heard from Dr Andrew Manches, Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh and Associate Director of the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science, Dr. Sharon Macnab, Science Partnership Manager at the Glasgow Science Centre, and Euan Mitchell, Head of Early Years and Primary at SSERC.

Their collaboration focused on improving the quality of STEM education for young, underserved children through interactive games, a new exhibition design framework and teacher training. The project recently won the Making a Social Difference award at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards.

The session also provided an overview of the Inclusive Innovation programme, which looks to raise awareness of the support, resources and potential funds available to third sector organisations who have a good idea that does good.

View the Glasgow Science Centre, University of Edinburgh and SSERC recording

Download the presentation

Wednesday 24th November, 1100-1145: Arts & Creative

Edinburgh Napier University & Studio LR

Transforming the lives of our citizens and communities – one step at a time

For all entrepreneurs and social innovators, funding and investment are critical to delivering locally, regionally and nationally.   Impact investment is primarily focussed on creating value in our communities, ensuring that all citizens are treated with “Kindness, Dignity and Compassion”.   The current global Impact Investment market is worth $715billion and the Big Society Trust noted by the end of 2018 that the UK’s social investment market was delivering £1.1bn of annual transactions or a total value of over £3.5bn.

At this session we heard from Gail Boag, Dean of Edinburgh Napier Business School on the Impact Investment Symposium which creates collaboration between investors, philanthropists and social entrepreneurs to deliver a new funding routes for social enterprises. Joining Gail was Lucy Richards, (Founder & Chair of Studio LR and Founder of Better Company) who have accessed Scotland’s academic expertise to support citizens and communities across Scotland to describe their experience.

View the Studio LR & Edinburgh Napier University recording

Download the StudioLR session presentation

Thursday 4th November: 1100-1145: Hospitality, Food & Catering

Moray FoodPlus and Moray College, UHI

Mairi McCallum, Moray FoodPlus, and Malcolm Clark, Moray College, UHI described how they worked together to secure funding and develop an AI system for identifying rural poverty trends to help combat food poverty.

We learned how Mairi McCallum’s (Moray FoodPlus) drive to help combat food poverty in Moray led her to contact Interface and partner with Malcolm Clark (Moray College, UHI) where they created an AI system allowing employees to add data, identify trends, and food bank usage from the collected data along with their plans to share their knowledge with independent food banks across Scotland.

View the Moray FoodPlus session recording

Download the Moray FoodPlus presentation

Thursday 28th October: 1100-1145: Agritech & Aquaculture

NjordFrey and the University of West of Scotland

At this event we heard from Faisal Razzaq, Business Director, NjordFrey and Professor John Struthers, University of West of Scotland and Director, Centre for African Research on Enterprise and Economic Development (CAREED).

They described how Interface matched them both and how they went on to successfully apply for a £300k grant to develop a Digital Health Monitoring System for Rwandan farms to improve food security in the developing world.

View the NjordFrey session recording

Download the NjordFrey webinar presentation

Thursday 21st October: 1100-1145: Property, Energy, Utilities, Land and Housing

Cairn Housing Association and the University of Edinburgh

Join Meg Deasley, Cairn Housing Association, and Dr Kate Carter, University of Edinburgh to hear how they worked together as part of the Scottish Federation of Housing Association Innovation Community.

You will hear about the collaborative work focused on digital data, buildings and people. This started with mapping the ‘life of boiler’ and evolved to a wider understanding of the data landscape within the social housing sector. University of Edinburgh researchers helped to build this map and which has informed a wider systems review within Cairn HA. It has provided a framework for understanding how incremental changes can work toward improving digital asset management activities.

View the Cairn Housing Association recording

Download the Cairn Housing Association Presentation

Thursday 30th September, 1100-1145: Data, Digital & Fintech

Saorsa 2030 and the University of Strathclyde and The Data Lab

David Capperauld, Founder, Saorsa 2030 and William Wallace, Director of Knowledge Exchange, Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Strathclyde talked about Saorsa 2030’s ambitious aim, to develop the largest, most comprehensive, anti-slavery intelligent data platform in the world and how academia is supporting this.

View the Saorsa 2030 recording

Download the Saorsa 2030 presentation

Thursday 2 September, 1000-1045: Environmental and Net Zero

Sustainable Thinking Scotland CIC

Hear how Sustainable Thinking Scotland CIC duo, Sean Kerr and Stephen McQueen worked with Interface to identify academic partners, the University of Highlands and Islands to develop scientifically proven production and application methods for Biochar.

Biochar is a stable form of carbon, which when added to soil, slows down the release of CO2 into the atmosphere, drastically reducing its impact on the climate.

View the Sustainable Thinking Scotland recording

Download the Sustainable Thinking Scotland presentation

Friday 20th August, 1100-1145: Health & Social Care

Floco Ltd

At our launch event, we heard from Dr. Siobhán Jordan, Founding Director, Interface, Alison Wood, Director & Founder, Floco UK and Graeme Bisland, Senior Research and Development Engineer, University of Strathclyde and National Manufacturing Institute Scotland.

They discussed Floco’s journey in developing their reusable sanitary products and their experience of working with Interface; from bringing their initial idea, Interface’s support to match Floco with suitable academic partners through to launching their new product.

View the Floco session recording

Download the Floco session presentation

Case studies

Arts & Creative>

Person watching virtual reality scene on a screen
Organisation: Timespan Museum
Academic Partner: University of St. Andrews

The Problem: To create a 3D reconstruction of an historical site to commemorate the Bicentenary of the Highland Clearances. This expertise was not available in-house.

The Solution: Interface facilitated a partnership between Timespan and the University of St Andrews which resulted in the creation of a 3D, immersive virtual world within their existing museum space.

The Outcome: Creation of the first virtual world with historical content, accessible in a cultural context in the UK; enhancing the visitor experience in the museum and positioning the company as a forward-thinking organisation with a growing national reputation.

Click here for further detail

Digital, Data & Fintech>

White keyboard with pair of closed handcuffs on top
Organisation: Saorsa 2030
Academic Partner: University of Strathclyde and The Data Lab

The Problem: To eliminate modern slavery from corporate supply chains by aggregating multiple data feeds to form the largest anti-slavery data repository in the world.

The Solution: A consortium of local and international partners has come together to take forward the development of a big data solution, based in Scotland.

The Outcome: Funding secured from The Data Lab and Scottish Government to test a minimum viable product (MVP) and undertake functionality volume testing with real world data. Technical specification is now being prepared to secure the investment needed to develop the platform.

Click here for further detail

Environment & Net Zero>

Various food items in sustainable packaging
Organisation: Strength2Food
Academic Partner: University of Edinburgh

The Problem: There is no solution in place today for consumers to easily choose an environmentally conscious diet, i.e. to check which food has less of an environmental impact over other options.

The Solution: Sodexo worked with the University of Edinburgh supported by Interface to develop an app which would measure the carbon footprint of food menus and a toolkit to support the visual design for this information on menus. The project was funded through an ESRC Impact Acceleration Account and the app trialled with Food Nation CIC.

The Outcome: Planning is underway to bring the new software app to market.

Click here for further detail

Land & Housing>

A model house with a digital monitoring system on screen behind it
Organisation: Wheatley Group
Academic Partner: University of Edinburgh

The Problem: The need to design houses for the challenges to come such as the effect of an ageing population and the climate emergency.

The Solution: A partnership with Wheatley Group who manage more than 80,000 homes across the country to develop the organisation’s future technical and property strategy.

The Outcome: The project recommendations are going to have a significant impact on the Wheatley Group’s approach to technology and sustainability in the coming years and provided a great opportunity to show how the innovative use of technology can make housing more sustainable.

Click here for further detail

Agritech & Aquaculture>

Mobile phone in hand pointing at farmland with digital information, reading & stats being displayed
Organisation: Njordfrey
Academic Partner: University of the West of Scotland

The Problem: The need to secure an appropriate partner to apply for the Department for International Development (DFID) funded competition for projects on agri-tech and food chain innovations with partners in eligible African countries.

The Solution: An appropriate partner in the University of the West of Scotland was identified by Interface and the partners were successful in receiving a grant of almost £300k to collaborate on an 18-month project.

The Outcome: Both organisations are now working together to develop a Digital Health Monitoring System for Rwandan farms to improve food security in the developing world. Overall, the solution will remove high upfront costs and technical barriers, provide increased yields of organic produce, increase calorie intake by 28% and income 10-fold for up to 100,000 farmers and their 240,000 family members, via 2,000+ farms within 10 years.

Click here for further detail

Agritech & Aquaculture>

Potted plant with digital moitoring system attached to the side
Organisation: Networks4Learning
Academic Partner: University of Glasgow

The Problem: To develop an affordable solution for smart greenhouse farming applications for use in Africa.

The Solution: Interface matched Networks4Learning with academic partners in the University of Glasgow with significant research excellence in computer systems and networking.

The Outcome: Development of small-scale prototypes for IoT- based monitoring of environmental conditions for horticulture, deployed in a test rig at three universities.

Click here for further detail

Tourism, Heritage & Festivals>

Single storey brick buildings in fields
Organisation: Wanlockhead Museum
Academic Partner: Universities of Glasgow & Edinburgh

The Problem: The need to develop a digitisation strategy following the negative effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on how the museum could deliver its visitor experience.

The Solution: From expertise identified within the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh by Interface the academics undertook an Innovation Voucher funded project to test digital marketing solutions and purchase the equipment required for this.

The Outcome: A static scenes VR tour for the Wanlockhead’s Lead mine, Miners’ library, and Miners’ cottages was created, and audio narrations were created for the hearing impaired. A small pre-Christmas Facebook campaign was then tested to facilitate donations to the Wanlockhead’s fundraiser, and to build social media following with further campaigns planned to increase social media following and fundraising.

Click here for further detail

Tourism, Heritage & Festivals>

A man wearing virtual reality goggles inside an art gallery
Organisation: Tomintoul & Glenlivet Development Trust
Academic Partner: Universities of Napier, Edinburgh, Abertay & St. Andrews

The Problem: To conduct a trial marketing project to ascertain market demand for a digital tourism strategy and the best technology to use to deliver this.

The Solution: Partnering with academics, identified through Interface, with expertise in digital applications and retail marketing, a feasibility study was carried out to determine how technology would be used and the practicalities of using it in rural areas.

The Outcome: As a result The Trust considered the findings delivered and identified a suitable digital platform to implement. In addition, The Trust accessed expert academic support from The University of St Andrews through Interface to develop Virtual Reality technology as well as a 360 degree experience of an illicit still.

Click here for further detail

Tourism, Sports & Leisure>

Metal snow board binding with SWIFTY cut out of side
Organisation: Equal Adventure
Academic Partner: University of Strathclyde

The Problem: The need to complete stringent laboratory-based assessments on a prototype of snow board bindings for double leg amputees to validate the bindings to be developed for the market.

The Solution: Interface identified the required knowledge and facilities within the University of Strathclyde and a project was undertaken design, development and testing of the bindings.

The Outcome: The bindings were proved to be safe for use by double leg amputees. As a result the company have been able to
add another product to their range, allowing them to enter new markets, increase sales and safeguard jobs.

Click here for further detail