University of Strathclyde’s Breaking Barriers Initiative wins awards

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University of Strathclyde's Breaking Barriers programme is designed provide a university experience to young people with learning disabilities.

By U2B Staff 

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The Breaking Barriers initiative, led by the University of Strathclyde that helps young people with learning disabilities gain university qualifications and work experience, was named the winner of the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards, in the Spotlight category.

This award celebrates a partnership between a business sector and an academic discipline to provide an innovative solution to a challenge.

The Breaking Barriers initiative was developed through a partnership between the university, ENABLE Scotland, ScottishPower and Marriott Hotels.

The assistant faculty manager of Strathclyde Business School and Strategic Lead for Breaking Barriers, Heather Stenhouse said, “We are very proud to collaborate with our partners on such an innovative programme. Being able to give support to these young adults is absolutely priceless.”

This initiative, currently in its third year received the award presented by Interface at a ceremony in Edinburgh. Interface is a central hub connecting organisations from a wide variety of national and international industries to all of Scotland’s universities, research institutes, and colleges.


Director of Interface, Siobhán Jordan said that the awards showcase the immense talent and expertise in colleges and universities working with industry, which enable sustainable and inclusive economic growth and job creation.

She also added, “The pioneering individuals and R&D partnerships recognised at the awards have brought huge benefits and impacts which ripple locally, regionally and globally to truly drive industry-led innovation.”

This sentiment is echoed by Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, Ivan McKee who presented the award.

McKee congratulated all the nominees and winners who had been recognised for their outstanding work at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards.

In his speech, he said “Not only do these awards celebrate activities and projects happening all over Scotland, but they also bring people together and create new collaborations and partnerships. Their innovation plays a crucial role in boosting productivity and creating sustainable economic growth for the country.”


The Knowledge Exchange Awards winner, Breaking Barriers is also the winner of the 2019 Times Higher Education Awards. In this award, it was named Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year.

The university was also nominated for three other awards in the ceremony. Its collaboration with Children’s Hospices Across Scotland was shortlisted in the Making A Difference category.

The university also received nominations in the Innovator of the Future category for its work in designing a ‘virtual showhome’ enabling clients to ‘walk through’ their design concept prior to build.

The university’s Department of Pure & Applied Chemistry was nominated for leading a successful collaborative project with Lanarkshire-based Mersen to develop highly efficient flow batteries.

The university was also named Times Higher Education UK University of the Year, making it the first institution to win this award twice.