The University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute and investment firm Deep Science Ventures have launched the Food & Agriculture Science Transformer (FAST), which aims to create the first $1 billion company in the animal health, aquaculture or agritech sectors.
The FAST programme brings together DSV’s market-led approach to creating science companies, and Roslin’s world-leading expertise and facilities across genomics, veterinary biosciences, biotechnology and agriculture.
Each year the partnership will launch several high-growth technology start-ups comprising teams from the University of Edinburgh, the wider UK and the rest of the world.
Spotting the opportunity
Edinburgh Innovations played a central role in bringing the two sides together in 2018.
“I’m particularly grateful to Edinburgh Innovations for their continued support after having introduced DSV to the Roslin Institute and identified the joint opportunity for a novel approach to company creation.”
– Professor Bruce Whitelaw, Interim Director, the Roslin Institute.
DSV was established to create a founder-friendly method for launching high-growth science companies with novel intellectual property. Founders are recruited to investigate neglected areas with potential for high impact.
As projects demonstrate increasing commercial viability, additional founders and advisors join, alongside a minimum £50,000 of equity investment, which can grow to £500,000.
FAST operates virtually but will also be jointly located at the Roslin Innovation Centre (RIC), based at the University’s Easter Bush Campus, and DSV’s London-based headquarters.
“FAST offers a transformative opportunity to accelerate the entrepreneurial culture at Easter Bush.”
– Professor Bruce Whitelaw.
Meeting identified needs
DSV and Roslin will select globally relevant commercial and technology opportunities, and will recruit and train ambitious founders from the Edinburgh ecosystem and beyond to create agricultural and biotech companies that can respond to the needs of farmers, the public and the planet’s ecosystems.
Edinburgh Innovations is providing support to the FAST programme, with funding provided by the Roslin Foundation and the UK Research and Innovation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (UKRI BBSRC).
“I am very excited by the prospect of this FAST programme, which is a highly unique approach to company formation.
“Attracting world-wide scientific and entrepreneurial talent and combining them with market-led opportunities to create companies of scale in Animal Health, Agri-tech and/or Aquaculture (AAA), FAST will hopefully find and create the first AAA unicorn company, which will only augment our world leading position at the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Campus.”
– John Mackenzie, Chief Executive Officer, Roslin Innovation Centre.