Engagement Awards 2021 - Shortlist

Best Arts & Culture Collaboration

Parasites: Battle for Survival - Dr Vickie Curtis

Parasites: Battle for Survival, was an immersive exhibition held at the National Museum of Scotland (NMS). It explored the fight to study and eliminate five neglected tropical diseases (malaria, schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, sleeping sickness and Guinea worm disease). Dr Vickie Curtis, Public Engagement Manager at The Wellcome Centre for Integrative Parasitology (WCIP) collaborated with the NMS along with parasitology departments at the Universities of Dundee and Edinburgh to develop content that would engage visitors from all over the world with contemporary Scottish research. The exhibition welcomed nearly 40,000 visitors in 2020.



Guddling About - Professor Minty Donald

‘Guddling About’ was developed by Professor Minty Donald (Theatre Studies) in partnership with organisations, communities and hydrological networks in 4 countries. The project uses innovative, participatory, creative activities (described as ‘micro-performances’) to raise awareness and increase understanding of water-related environmental issues, specifically water scarcity, flooding and sanitation. Through collaborations with municipal water services, environmental organisations, a water management company, arts and cultural organisations, schools, community groups and, crucially, rivers, watercourses and innumerable other nonhumans, Donald’s work has impacted on attitudes and behaviours towards water in diverse international contexts.

EMOTIVE - Digital storytelling in cultural heritage - Professor Maria Economou

The EMOTIVE project led by Professor Economou from the School of Humanities, collaborated with cultural and creative industry professionals to pioneer the use of digital interpretation technology in storytelling to stimulate emotions, connect with the past, and engage visitors to heritage attractions in richer, more rewarding ways. Using a dual design and evaluation methodology they developed new techniques adopted for UNESCO World Heritage Site management in Scotland and Germany, and by cultural organisations in Glasgow, Barcelona, Athens and Kurdistan. Economou’s research team also helped commercial partners in the UK, France and Greece to improve their storytelling authoring tools, leading to product improvements with commercial benefits.

Best Business Collaboration

SEMWaves Ltd - Dr Chong Li

Together with start-up company, SEMWaves Ltd, Dr Chong Li from the James Watt School of Engineering, is working on clean energy solutions for remote areas in developing countries. Several students at the School of Engineering have been inspired to participate in the project which has received a Global Challenges Research Fund small grant and InnovateUK funding. The collaboration has provided, for the first time, a remote community of 60 households, 19 shops, 1 school, 1 clinic and 4 different religious assemblies in Bangladesh with a clean, affordable, and robust supply of electricity, notably achieved irrespective of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.


'Edify' - Sublime - Professor Fiona Macpherson & Dr Neil McDonnell

As the world grapples with the effects of COVID-19 on the education sector, researchers at the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience at the University of Glasgow have partnered with Sublime, a leading Scottish immersive technology company, to ensure that Glasgow has the capacity and knowledge to improve all aspects of remote teaching and learning. The team have created ‘Edify’, a virtual reality learning platform that allows students to access the benefits of virtual reality teaching from their own homes. It removes the need for high specification VR hardware as it supports mobile and desktop usage via widely available third-party products. This democratises the benefits of immersive learning, providing crucial accessibility to shared learning experiences. It allows students to learn without limits. The project catalysed a new company, created 21 new jobs and 60 licences for use of Edify have been sold in institutions in Scotland, England and Australia.

The Lighthouse Laboratory

The Lighthouse Laboratory was established by the University of Glasgow and the Department of Health & Social Care as a national COVID-19 testing facility analysing samples from individuals with suspected COVID- 19 infections. Based at the University’s Clinical Innovation Zone, our triple helix partnership with industry and pan- Scottish collaborations (BioAscent, BioClavis and the University of Dundee) enabled the rapid establishment of what is currently the UK’s highest throughput diagnostic facility. The Lighthouse Lab recently reached the milestone of processing over 10 million tests, a phenomenal achievement in supporting the country’s national COVID-19 testing effort and confirming the critical role the Lab has played in response to the pandemic.

Best Policy & Practice Collaboration

Network for Social and Educational Equity

In the last eight years, The Robert Owen Centre has developed an innovative model that helps schools work together to make significant changes that tackle attainment and spark sustainable change. More than 100 school teams have developed collaborative projects using the Network for Social and Educational Equity (NSEE) model. The NSEE team is led by Professor Chris Chapman. The approach is cited as best practice in the nation-wide school self-evaluation guidance (How Good is our School 4). One participating local authority saw numeracy attainment increase by 14% (P4) and 11% (P7) since 2016, while literacy increased by 9% (P4) and 13% (P7); changes attributed to the approach.


#Sleepyteens - Dr Heather Cleland Woods and Dr Holly Scott

The #sleepyteens project in the School of Psychology has been working in partnership with schools and policymakers since 2014. The project prioritises the voice of adolescents themselves to guide the direction of the research and a new tool has been created to help more accurately measure young people’s ability to disengage from social media before bed. The research team have worked with educators, parents and policymaker through a network of research partner schools across Scotland and internationally, engaging with over 4000 pupils to date. Outputs include innovative evidence-based school curricula and a new measurement tool for the Scottish Government’s national cohort study on child and adolescent development.

Scotland in Lockdown Study - Professor Sarah Armstrong and Dr Lucy Pickering

The Scotland in Lockdown study worked with 20 non-academic partner organisations to better understand the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on refugees, people with disabilities, prisoners, survivors of domestic abuse and others. Partners were crucial to connecting the study team to digitally and socially excluded people in these groups, ensuring the perspectives of marginalised people are included in policy considerations. The team also sought to ensure partnerships were mutually beneficial, even in a rapid study, and undertook a range of activities to enhance capacity and resources of partner organisations. The study provided data that has supported partners and informed Government thinking.

Best Community or Public Engagement Initiative

DigiGallus Connect - Professor Kathleen Riach

DigiGallus Connect is a rapid response initiative to foster intergenerational relations and promote digital inclusion during Covid-19. Professor Kathleen Riach from the Adam Smith Business School drew on her expertise on workforce ageing and older workers to lead a team of students to crowdfund, design and deliver a digital mentoring programme to over 50’s in the greater Glasgow area and connect them with a UofG student. They then virtually engaged in sessions to develop digital skills which also allowed students  to gain valuable experience in intergenerational communication. The project claimed commendations from the Scottish Parliament, further external funding and Professor Riach winning the Scottish Institute for Enterprise Imaginative Educator of the Year award.


Research Voices: adapting a Citizens’ Jury model to make health research more inclusive for people with learning disabilities - Angela Henderson, Dr Deborah Kinnear and Rhiann McLean

People with learning disabilities (LD) experience health inequalities but are frequently excluded from research and their views rarely captured in the research process. The Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory (SLDO), Institute of Health & Wellbeing identified the need to develop robust public engagement methods with this marginalised group to improve equality and diversity in LD health research and to challenge attitudinal barriers that exclude people with LD from health research. Our innovative adapted citizens’ jury method empowered people with LD to deliberate on conceptual and practical issues and to make recommendations on research methods.

Justice Journeys Research Team - Dr Oona Brooks-Hay, Professor Michele Burman and Dr Lisa Bradley

Justice Journeys Survivor Stories (JJSS) is a powerful online exhibition, launched in December 2020, featuring a collection of rape survivors’ stories about their ‘end-to-end’ journeys through the criminal justice process in Scotland. The project was co-produced with its participants using innovative arts-based practices. This enabled the creation of accessible short stories and creative visual representations of participants’ experiences, which have in turn facilitated broader public engagement with the research. Participation in JJSS has been transformative for those involved, representing a form of justice following encounters with the criminal justice system where their voices were not heard. 

Entrepreneur of the Year

Professor Graeme Milligan and Professor Andrew Tobin

Working together for more than 10 years to establish ‘Translational Pharmacology’ as a theme of excellence at University of Glasgow, Tobin and Milligan have cultivated extensive and highly productive links with both early-stage and major international biopharmaceutical companies. Building on the insights gained, they have developed their research interests in malarial kinases and poorly explored G protein-coupled receptors to spin out, most recently, KelticPharma Therapeutics in 2020. Initial funding from the European Union will provide the opportunity to deliver disease modifying medicines in malaria, severe asthma and neuropsychiatric conditions.


Professor Richard Hogg

Richard Hogg from the James Watt School of Engineering has led the development of novel technology that is set to revolutionise the world of semiconductor lasers. He filed 15 key technology patents, two that underpin a successful spin-out venture, Vector Photonics, already raising significant equity investment. Another spin-out company from the University of Glasgow is iii-v epi which has been grown through commercial sales. Richard has always nurtured and encouraged entrepreneurship within his research group and as a result his team have won 7 Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) awards, 3 enterprise fellowships, and funding for business training 4 times.

Dr Rick Gray

Dr Rick Gray from the School of Physics & Astronomy completed his PhD in 2019 having succeeded in developing a TRL3 prototype gamm spectrometer comprising a novel combination of technologies initially created for high energy physics research. Recognising the opportunity for commercialisation, Dr Gray, who was awarded a prestigious RSE Enterprise Fellowship, built a dedicated team who are leveraging their expertise to produce a suite of compact radiation detectors that are now being applied to addressing complex challenges in diverse industries including nuclear decommissioning, medical diagnostics and environmental monitoring. In the past 18 months, the Lomond Instruments commercialisation project, led by Rick has successfully secured over £250k in grant funding.