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Scottish Innovative Student Award (SISA)

What is SISA?

The Scottish Innovative Student Award is a personal development programme run by the Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE) and endorsed by the four of Scotland’s Innovation Centres: the Digital Health and Care Institute, the Data Lab, CENSIS, and the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre. It is designed to develop students’ innovation competencies across the following tiered levels: Level 1: Future Thinker, Level 2: Innovation Catalyst and Level 3: Innovation Champion.


Each level is a micro-credential, designed to boost your CV by giving you tangible evidence to show employers and other stakeholders that you have the key innovation competencies they value, even more so in the current situation, and you know how to use them to their advantage. Working towards each level can also help you spot opportunities for future coursework ideas or new venture creation. For this academic year SIE is working to ensure that these SISA micro-credentials are even more relevant for you, given the current disruption, and that SISA will provide you with a strong framework to help you enhance your competencies, make the right decisions about your career and build your confidence and resilience

With SIE partnering with the Innovation Centres to deliver SISA, this is also your chance to get involved in Scotland’s innovation agenda, including its commitment to the implementation of the United Nation’s Sustainability Goals. If you progress to SISA Levels 2 & 3 you will be working on key societal and economic issues on a regional, national and global level and contributing to this agenda. In addition, you will gain insight into your sense of purpose and the impact you want to have on society. A clearly designed and articulated sense of purpose can also be a great boost for your CV.

What Students Say About SISA?

Irina-Cristina Bogdan, RGU Graduate and SISA Level 3 Innovation Champion shares about her experience with the programme.

The SISA Levels:

Level 1: Future Thinker

Level 1 is delivered within the curriculum by SIE or by course lecturers. Your lecturer will tell you if your course is eligible. Students must apply online for their Level 1: Future Thinker certificate, and demonstrate their understanding by answering the question ‘What new thing did you learn and how does that relate to the future and to your future?’

The SISA Level 1 application form can be accessed here.

SISA Level 2: Innovation Catalyst

Open to students who have already achieved a SISA Level 1 certificate and are interested in new ideas and making them happen. SISA Level 2 will allow you to enhance and develop your innovation competencies by working on key societal and economic issues on a regional, national and global level.

The SISA Level 2 challenges are inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Scottish Government was one of the first to sign up to the goals in 2015, and in 2018 it issued the National Performance Framework as a blueprint for implementing these goals at national and local levels. You can find more information on the SDGs here.

The SDGs recognise that ending poverty and deprivation must go hand in hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth, all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests. Therefore, by taking part in SISA Level 2 workshop, you and your fellow students will have the opportunity to play an important role in the implementation of these goals. You will act as catalysts for change to develop new ideas that have the potential to ensure that no one is left behind as the UN and Scottish Government work to secure their vision of a sustainable future for all.

Normally, SISA Level 2 is a national day bringing students together from across Scotland to a city venure. It will still be possible to do your Level 2 in this academic year via an online interactive digital event, with various dates for this event scheduled throughout the year.

The SISA Level 2 online workshops dates for Academic Year 2020-21:

Level 3: Innovation Champion

For this advanced level, students must complete an online worksheet demonstrating their ability to apply the innovation process to their own project, which may be curricular or extra-curricular.
Successful applicants will receive recognition as an Innovation Champion and will be able to access support tailored to their needs in order to advance their idea, such as:

  • Access to unique opportunities including invitations to relevant events
  • Introductions to industry contacts
  • Specialist advice on your project from SIE and Innovation Centres business advice, etc.

Online applications for SISA Level 3 will open in November 2020.