By Dr Gill Murray, Deputy Principal of Enterprise and Business
Scottish Council for Development and Industry Forum
There is no doubt, Scotland has exciting, innovative businesses and world-class global universities.
And as we move into an era of technological change and globalisation, Scotland should be, to quote the First Minister “the inventor and the producer of innovations that will shape the future, not just the consumer.”
Universities have a strong role to play in supporting this ambition and we're adapting our approaches to respond to the challenge in hand.
In fact, at Heriot Watt, we are reimagining our attitudes to skills, innovation, partnerships and enterprise – through being a truly global organisation with firm Scottish roots.
As an organisation, this global reach, gives us a very distinctive offer, with five campuses locations in three continents, covering some of the largest markets opportunities in the word.
And this strong international footprint has enabled our university to make a significant global impact, with over 30,000 students worldwide and our future strategy is firmly rooted around this global distinctiveness.
We are positioned well to support, local economic grown and create new opportunities for Scotland.
Heriot-Watt was established to provide local businesses with the skilled workforce needed for the first industrial revolution and therefore it is fitting that we are positioning ourselves to support organizations adapt to the fourth Industrial revolution.
For this revolution, a different response is needed to develop people, innovation and internationalisation.
The 2016 'Future of Jobs' Survey and Report from the World Economic Forum (WEF, 2016) provides us an insight into the answer, suggesting that the two greatest skills in demand when current school-leavers graduate from their undergraduate degrees or apprenticeship training will be 'complex problem solving and social skills'.
Skills like, emotional intelligence, not previously making the top ten, will be increasingly important as we move to new patterns of work and business models.
Relentless introduction of new disruptive technologies will not only constantly demand new skills and knowledge to keep pace, but it will fundamentally change the skillsets needed.
So, in future, we need think differently – placing a much stronger emphasis on emotional intelligence, experiential and lifelong learning.
And we're doing just that, by reimaging innovation. Helping companies keep pace with the exponential growth in technology through knowledge transfer activities, but using the opportunities presented from our distinctive global footprint and our world class research to radically change how organisations develop new products and services for emerging markets and new customer bases.
We believe in this bold vision for the future, and are investing heavily in new Discovery & Innovation Centres both internationally and locally.
Through our new global innovation model, student staff and our communities will be able to jointly explore, collaborate, create, test & solve real world global challenges faster than ever.
As a nation of inventors, pioneers and advocates of social enlightenment, Scotland is well positioned to build on its exciting innovative businesses and world class global universities, to drive its own revolution in the future, just as we have in the past.