Rural businesses are discovering the benefits from tapping into Scotland’s world-leading academic expertise.

Situated in St John’s Town of Dalry, TransK9 is a family run company set up in 2003 by Sharon and Robert Marshall to supply dog cages and transit boxes for the rear of vehicles.

The TransK9 boxes are constructed from high grade aluminium, with heavy duty galvanised steel doors.

Their customers range from domestic users to the UK’s top gundog trainers and handlers, police constabularies, security companies through to numerous veterinary practices.  In addition, they export to the USA and Europe.

Manufactured locally in Scotland, TransK9 transit boxes have been designed to be long-lasting and can fit most estate cars, 4x4s, double cabs, SUVs and vans.

The company wanted to prove the quality of the cages to ensure the safety of their clients’ dogs and to do this they needed to partner with a university to crash test their safety through mock car crash conditions. In addition, they wanted to make sure that the doors to the cages could still be opened and the dogs released after a crash as well as measure the impact on passengers sitting in rear seats.

After putting out a search to various universities, Interface, which matches businesses to university expertise, was able to set up a collaboration with University of the West Scotland’s School of Engineering and Computing to crash test TransK9’s latest dog cage.  

TransK9 director, Robert Marshall, said: “The benefits were noticed immediately, in our first full year since undertaking the crash testing our UK sales rose by a staggering 39%; we are now into our second year and we are anticipating another increase in sales of at least 20% for this period.

“We would without any hesitation collaborate again with University of the West of Scotland, their expertise has greatly benefited our business, not only here in the UK but worldwide.”

Mari Findlay, Business Engagement Executive at Interface for Dumfries and Galloway, added: “Companies like TransK9 can really benefit from tapping into the wealth of knowledge in universities, research institutes and colleges in Scotland. Having scientific backing validating a product can really help boost sales, as has happened here.”

In Galashiels, renowned rugby coach, Richie Gray, has been inventing sports equipment with a particular focus on collision training for several years.

He wanted to minimise injuries occurring during training by developing equipment which would have less impact on the players.

Interface introduced Richie to Dr Daniil Yurchenko, from Heriot-Watt University, who worked with him on the science of collision. His models helped Richie analyse how a typical rugby player’s physique would respond to pressure and charges from various angles, and at various strengths.

This initial collaboration gave Richie insight and new knowledge about how players moved, which he has incorporated into subsequent innovations such as the Scrum360 and recently-launched ProScrum.

Both have been taken to market by world-leading equipment supplier Rhino. “It has taken a lot of work to get to where I have with Scrum360 and ProScrum. You have to make sure that the training equipment relates to the law and the real challenge is to create something simple and affordable, otherwise local rugby clubs are not going to be able to buy it,” Richie explained.

His advice for others is simple: “You don’t burn a good idea, you keep going until you come up with something you are happy with.”

Interface has supported hundreds of rural businesses during their search for academic partners since it was established in 2005 to bridge the gap between industry and academia, leading to the creation of new products, processes and services.

Interface connects businesses from all industry sectors to Scotland’s 23 universities and research institutes, and colleges throughout Scotland. 

Funded by the Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Interface is a free and impartial service which aims to encourage companies to consider academic support to help solve their business challenges.