University generates first commercial spin-out company

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Greenspace Live banner at the recent EcoBuild Conference in London


The first commercial spin-out from the University of the Highlands and Islands is to become a fully-fledged company. Set up in 2008, greenspaceLive Ltd was created to commercialise research generated at the Greenspace Research hub at Lews Castle College UHI. Now, with a suite of products ready for market, the Stornoway-based organisation is becoming an independent company. It will hold an official launch on Friday 20 April.

As well as providing consultancy services, the business specialises in creating energy analysis software for the built environment. It recently launched gModeller, a tool which can be used with the design programme Google SketchUp to determine the energy efficiency of buildings. Other products include a programme for generating energy performance rating certificates and a tool which, once completed, will calculate the long term energy usage, carbon consumption and costs of potential constructions.

Lewis local, Malcolm Murray is greenspaceLive’s product manager. After graduating with a degree in computer science from the University of Strathclyde, he returned to the island to complete a PhD through the University of the Highlands and Islands, becoming its Research Student of the Year in 2009.

Speaking about greenspaceLive, Malcolm said: “It’s great that we’re becoming a commercial company and that our products have been developed from research that many of us have been involved with. I never expected that I would be able to come home, further my studies and do groundbreaking work here.

“As most of our products are web based,” he continued, “the fact that we’re on an island doesn’t matter. We already have customers around the world, in China, America, France, Switzerland and other countries.”

University of the Highlands and Islands principal and vice-chancellor, James Fraser, said: “I’m delighted that the university has produced its first commercial spin-out. This is a testament to the excellent work that goes on at Greenspace Research and shows the economic and social benefits that universities can bring to the regions they are based in.”

Archie Macdonald, area manager for the Outer Hebrides at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: "greenspaceLive is an ambitious high tech business. HIE has supported the team in their efforts to step up sales growth and develop new products and it's fantastic that the company is able to grow their customer base all over the world, working from the Isle of Lewis."

While greenspaceLive is now an independent company, staff plan to retain links with the university. Malcolm explained: “Some of our staff members are still doing research there and we can use our commercial expertise to help test students’ ideas. The university, though Lews Castle College UHI, has been very supportive and we’re keen to ensure our relationship with them continues.”

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