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Norscot Secures Innovation of the Year Award

27th February 2018

Photograph of Norscot Secures Innovation of the Year Award

Norscot, the Highlands and Islands manufacturer of timber frame kits, windows and doors, received the Innovation of the Year Award at the prestigious Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2018.

The awards, run by Interface, aim to celebrate the achievements of academic and business collaborations and partnerships. The award ceremony took place in Edinburgh on Thursday 22nd February 2018.

Norscot, in partnership with the University of Strathclyde, were recognised for the research and development of virtual reality show home software. The business found that one of the challenges in the self-build market was the difficulty for customers to visualise their finished home through traditional paper plans and CAD designs. In these circumstances consumers are asking if they can visit a show home but this option is simply impractical when it comes to bespoke designs.

Norscot were introduced to Interface, the Government backed organisation which links businesses with their academic partner, through HIE (Highlands and Islands Enterprise) and in-turn Interface introduced Norscot to the University of Strathclyde. Norscot's chairman Peter Body said, "I offer special thanks to Claire Farquhar at Highlands & Islands Enterprise and Shaie MacDonald at Interface. When the idea was first muted, their vision and encouragement was instrumental in getting it off the ground."

The software being developed by the University of Strathclyde combines Building Information Modelling (BIM) with virtual reality technology to allow consumers to "walk-through" their new-build to get a better feel for the space and finish of their new home. Peter added, "The idea is very simple but is taking a small army of very clever and supportive people to bring it to fruition. I thank them all for the progress to date, which has exceeded expectations."

"This award is a very welcome recognition of the project's potential, which will further enthuse the team to make it a success." The award has been accepted with much appreciation from the family-owned company. With its headquarters located in Bower, a small village in the far north of Scotland, Norscot are delighted to be acknowledged as a leader of innovation in Scotland.

Interface Case Study:

To take the project from proof of concept to commercialisation Norscot has been successful in securing a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) agreement with the University of Strathclyde with funding provided through Innovate UK.

There are only approximately 100 KTP partnerships running at any one time in Scotland, which demonstrates Norscot's achievement. A KTP associate has been recruited to work in the business and effect the knowledge transfer, which is expected to take between 24 and 30 months to complete.

Norscot Joinery Ltd:

Norscot Joinery Limited is a family owned business, established in 1984, by chartered surveyor Peter Body and his wife Teda. Peter is now semi-retired and the business is run day to day by Callum Grant (managing), Jason Fraser (technical), son John-Paul (technical) and grand-daughter Carrie Body (finance).

The Company's headquarters are its Bower Workshops in Caithness where it owns some 30,000 square feet of modern factory, offices and showroom. It also has a showroom and sales office in Inverness.

Norscot currently employs 60 staff and generates an annual turnover of more than £4 million. Our quality assurance scheme is accredited to the internationally recognised ISO 9001 standard.

Strathclyde University:

The work at Strathclyde University is being led by Dr Farzad Rahimian a Senior Lecturer in Building Information Management, and the Academic Leader of Strathclyde's Innovative Construction Technologies and BIM research cluster, with expertise in the mainstream areas of BIM, including IT Integrated Design and Construction, Virtual-Reality Programming for Automation, Simulation and Optimisation of Design, Offsite Construction, and Virtual Prototyping. He has extensive experience in VR/AR programming and prototyping, and was a key player on one the first and most famous game-like VR Environments for construction simulation.

The project will see the Department of Architecture at the University embed advanced Virtual Reality (VR) visualisation and Building Information Modelling (BIM) knowledge in Norscot, resulting in a virtual showroom software solution for kit home design and offsite manufacture, which may be viewed on a mobile device and can provide semantically rich building information integrated with the 3D representation.


Knowledge exchange is a sharing of expertise, ideas and evidence between businesses and universities or research institutes. The businesses learn from academic input, but equally the universities benefit from their experience of working with businesses and organisations helping them resolve real-life issues.

These partnerships bring significant benefits to the economy, society and higher education. Companies supported by Interface add an estimated £64.2m GVA into the economy each year through new services, processes or products, or efficiencies leading to cost savings, creating an estimated 1,060 jobs.

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

Interface is the only organisation in the UK that works on behalf of all 23 universities and research institutes in Scotland to create these partnerships.

Photo: (Left to Right) Professor Andrea Nolan OBE, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University; Peter Body, Chairman of Norscot Joinery Ltd and Dr Farzad Rahimian a Senior Lecturer in Building Information Management and the Academic Leader of the University of Strathclyde's Innovative Construction Technologies Team.


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