" /> Blog: too much to talk about — Edinburgh Innovations

My job comes with hazards for my family. There is very little we can discuss at the dinner table, or watch or listen to, where I can’t bang on about a connection with my work. And sometimes I do.

And the longer I’m at EI, the worse it gets. I learn more every week about the vast range of work my colleagues are doing and how it touches every aspect of life: crime and justice policy; myriad aspects of medicine and health; sausages, beer and bread (I promise I’m not making this up); everything in sport from Deep Heat to virtual tennis; the soundtracks to computer games; and student startups that span charity shops to skin for robots.

At this time of year I reach a peak of nerdy enthusiasm as I help put together an annual ‘Staff Update’ for EI colleagues and look back over the previous 12 months.

Having recently completed that task, and perhaps to get it out of my system for my family’s sake, here I’m sharing some of those highlights for a wider audience.

‘That could be me’

The selection here illustrates the range of our clients and sectors we work in. I hope some of them provide an ‘it could be you’ factor. Whether you’re an external organisation (either a business, a public-sector body, a charity or an investor), a University colleague or a student, there may be activity here that you didn’t know was the kind we got involved in. Are there ways we can help you become the next success story?


Speak:Unique is a spinout company that has developed technology to create personalised synthesised voices for those who lose their own voice as a result of conditions such as motor neurone disease, cerebral palsy and stroke. A patient records or ‘banks’ a sample of their own voice, from which the technology can create accurate synthetic speech. EI has helped the team form a company, helped guide them to gain funding and introduced them to the innovation network.

Canon collaboration

EI recently helped Dr Sotirios Tsaftaris in the University’s School of Engineering secure a Royal Academy of Engineering Senior Research Fellowship to advance healthcare artificial intelligence, in collaboration with Canon Medical’s global Centre of Excellence for Healthcare AI, based at Canon Medical Research Europe in Edinburgh. Current systems rely on manual organisation of data, such as images and other health records, and annotation to teach algorithms how to identify anomalies. This five-year project will develop new methods to extract information from healthcare records and imaging examinations without expert curation and supervision. Ultimately the aim is to produce clinician-ready tools for detecting and predicting cardiovascular disease.

Long-Term Agreement with UNICEF

We recently helped the University sign a Long-Term Agreement (LTA) with UNICEF, the United Nations’ children’s fund, for the provision of expertise in child protection. This means any UNICEF office can invite the University to submit a proposal for work without going through a tendering process, and academics can approach UNICEF with project ideas. The areas of focus are: (1) Data management – drawing on disciplines including mathematics, law, social policy and medical policy; (2) Technical expertise in child protection – delivering staff training which will involve expertise in social work, disability, education, child psychology and more; (3) Research – supporting data and evidence generation and developing national capacities.

Centre of Excellence in Bioprocessing

Thanks to EI’s engagement activities, the University was chosen in early 2019 as the lead academic partner in the FDB Centre of Excellence in Bioprocessing 2.0, a multi-million-pound commercial collaboration to boost biotech innovation. Edinburgh was selected after Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies (FDB) reviewed its research relationships with UK universities, and the EI-led proposal best matched the company’s needs. The Centre of Excellence is a collaboration between FDB, Scotland’s Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC), and the universities of Edinburgh, Manchester and York. 

Best wishes for the coming year

There you have it. I could go on, and probably will. We wish all our clients, past, present and future, a happy holiday season and an innovative new year when it comes.

Take a look at our services and case studies. Whether you’re an external business or other organisation, a member of University staff or a current student or recent graduate, we can help you have a prosperous and exciting year ahead.