£8 million for Scots projects

June 15, 2001

Light-emitting wallpaper, computer systems for older people and fish immunology are among 11 Scottish projects to share more than £8 million from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council.

This is the latest round of Shefc's research development grant scheme, which has disbursed £61 million since 1997. It was set up in response to the government's Foresight programme with the aim of improving the fit between higher education research and the long-term needs of society. Many of the projects will work closely with industry.

Dundee, Glasgow, Abertay, Dundee and Napier universities have formed a consortium to help industry meet the needs of an ageing population. More than half of people over 65 have a disability, and the number of over-75s is set to double over the next ten years. But advances in engineering, communications and information technology offer little support.

The consortium's £713,000 project aims to develop computer and communication systems to support the elderly, including memory jogging devices and "smart rooms" that respond to falls or lack of movement.

St Andrews University has won £694,000 to bring together physicists and chemists in its organic semiconductor interdisciplinary research facility. Its research could lead to light-emitting wallpaper and television screens that can be folded like newspapers.

Ifor Samuel leads investigations into plastics that conduct electricity and aims to create new materials for Scotland's semiconductor and optoelectronics industries.

Professor Samuel said: "Conventional semiconductors are made of inorganic materials such as silicon, which are rigid and expensive. Organic semiconductors are flexible, low-cost and versatile plastic-like materials, opening exciting new directions for electronics."

Aberdeen and Stirling universities and the Scottish Executive's marine laboratory in Aberdeen, have won £830,000 to study how fish respond to infection.

Farmed fish in particular can be dramatically affected by disease, with a knock-on effect on employment in the aquaculture and fishing industries. But the present understanding of fish immunology is very poor compared with knowledge of human immunology, making it difficult to develop vaccines.

Other grants include £748,000 for a SmartWeb technology centre at the Robert Gordon University, which will help meet demand for tailored and personalised information services from the web.

Glasgow University has won almost £500,000 for a centre for cultural policy research.

The creative industries are worth £5 billion to the Scottish economy, and the Scottish Executive has committed almost £83 million to cultural programmes over three years.

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