Twenty-seven data-driven projects have been chosen as the first cohort of the Data-Driven Entrepreneurship Venture Builder Incubator.
The incubator will support postgraduate students, post-doctoral researchers and academic staff looking to solve major global challenges. It will bring their research to market as part of the ambitious Data-Driven Entrepreneurship Beacon Programme at the University of Edinburgh to support post-Covid recovery.
“We have been delighted at the response we have had to this innovative programme. The University of Edinburgh is recognised worldwide for the quality of its research and this programme will make an important contribution to unlocking the benefits of that research for communities and the economy.
“We will be supporting these entrepreneurial researchers from idea to business launch.”
– Dr John Lonsdale, Head of Enterprise Services at Edinburgh Innovations.
Heriot-Watt and edventures
The incubator is the first at the University to include students from Heriot-Watt University, making it a pioneering collaboration between the two universities.
It is also the first at the University of Edinburgh to be delivered in partnership with edventure, a pan-European university venture builder and accelerator launched in September 2020 by three Edinburgh students, Zara Zaman, Ragnor Comerford and Fynn Comerford.
Since its launch, edventure has grown to a team of more than 40 people, more than half of them women, helping over 200 students to build startups at universities across Europe.
The DDE Venture Builder Incubator is managed by Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service, and delivered by the Bayes Centre on behalf of the University’s five Data-Driven Innovation Hubs. It is delivered in partnership with Edinburgh-based strategic design consultancy Nile, as well as edventure.
“We are delighted to have some of our most promising entrepreneurial students participate in the inaugural Venture Builder Incubator and have an opportunity to collaborate with students from each of the Data-Driven Innovation Hubs.”
– Paul Devlin, Head of Commercialisation at Heriot-Watt University.
Interest across disciplines
Applications were received from all corners of the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University, showing wide interest in entrepreneurship.
The majority of projects selected are based on PhD research, though initiatives from masters students, post-doctoral researchers and staff have also joined the incubator. Healthcare, climate change, animal care, finances and robotics are among the areas participants will be working on during the three-month programme.
“The PhD Incubator complements the Post-Covid AI Accelerator and the University investor readiness programme, EIE (Engage Invest Exploit).
“The cohort will benefit from our community of over 400 internationally recognised scientists, leading industry experts, entrepreneurs and investors. I look forward to working with them – to establish new dynamic businesses that will deliver data technology solutions to real-world problems.”
– Jim Ashe, Director of Innovation at the Bayes Centre.
Support and funding
The cohort will benefit from tailored content and support, mentoring and conferences to turn their ideas and early-stage projects into sustainable businesses. Through the Data Driven Innovation (DDI) programme of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, each of the 27 initiatives will also receive a £2,000 grant from the Scottish Funding Council or Heriot-Watt.
Claire Ann Banga is a PhD Clinical Psychology student and founder of eMoodie, a digital platform to give people tools and interventions to manage their mental health. Ms Banga said: “Our team is very excited to be part of the incubator. We’re all looking forward to meeting like-minded individuals and hope that we can collaborate to help both our own and other projects move forward to help address current societal challenges.”
The DDI programme, which is part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, aims to help Edinburgh become the Data Capital of Europe, creating wide-reaching benefits for the economy and society.
Full list of Incubator projects:
- Altra – an app for improving education by saving teachers’ time.
- Bennu.ai – a smart bin that sorts waste automatically using smart sensors and AI models.
- Car Seat Jungle – a comprehensive car seat search engine.
- Danu Robotics – AI-powered, vision-guided robotics to automate waste sorting.
- Efemarai – a platform for testing and debugging machine learning models.
- eMoodie – a digital mental health app for early intervention and addressing treatment gaps.
- Grand Bequest – a historical real estate app for old building conservation.
- HiGHS – offers consultancy and an open source software for discrete and continuous optimisation problems.
- Koios – a reading platform for cause-and-effect discovery in advanced materials.
- MeetDoc – a platform to monitor health conditions and deliver medication.
- Nature Sky Solutions – an unmanned aerial vehicle system for studying the environment.
- NextChain – a B2B food marketplace that connects local farmers/producers with restaurants and small retail stores.
- Nimbo – a command line tool that abstracts the AWS DevOps and infrastructure setup away from the programmer.
- Podspectrix – a medical imaging device aided by machine learning for foot ulcer detection and ulcer management guidance.
- Readysetcore – a hospitality-focused suite of applications that saves time and money on managerial tasks.
- Rigpa – an event-based solution for radioisotope identification.
- Scrapp – a personal recycling assistant that scans waste and informs if the material is recyclable.
- Sense Check – helps engineers learn from the measured in-service behaviour of civil structures.
- Sleuth AI – a data testing platform for market predictions.
- SmpliCare – a digital platform that helps families proactively support ageing loved ones to maintain independence at home.
- Student Bubble – a platform for private student rental accommodation.
- VisionRF – a wireless health monitoring device.
- [unnamed project] – a canine microbiome fecal test, utilising state-of-the-art sequencing technology.
- [unnamed project] – a comprehensive battery test to determine their value after use.
- [unnamed project] – a financial platform that provides access to professional financial tools.
- [unnamed project] – a tool framework to mitigate machine learning models’ negative biases.
- [unnamed project] – working on a pregnancy test that allows early identification of non-pregnant cows.