Dr John Lonsdale joins EI as Head of Enterprise Services

Dr John Lonsdale joins EI as Head of Enterprise Services

Dr John Lonsdale has taken up the new post of Edinburgh Innovations’ Head of Enterprise Services.

Lonsdale leads a new team bringing together EI’s technology transfer and enterprise development activities, which include licensing University intellectual property and creating startup and spinout companies.

Income generation

The team has ambitious targets for company creation and for increased commercialisation of IP, which generates income for Schools and research groups as well as contributing to the University’s wider economic impact.

Lonsdale joins from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), where he was Director of Innovation and Enterprise.

“It’s exciting to join a University ranked among the best in the world and with such a successful history of commercialisation. The team at Edinburgh Innovations has exceptional experience and credibility in the enterprise and tech transfer ecosystems, and I look forward to helping increase the transformation of University ideas into benefit for society and the economy.”


– Dr John Lonsdale, Head of Enterprise Services, Edinburgh Innovations

The University has ambitious targets for company creation, in part linked to the recently announced Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal. The University is leading the £1.3 billion deal’s Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) programme, which aims to enable 400 data-centric startup companies over 15 years.

As part of the DDI programme, EI will drive increased company creation by students and staff, the delivery of executive education programmes and expansion of University partnerships with commercial and public sector organisations.

“My immediate goals include seeking new potential across academic disciplines and venture types, expanding the IP portfolio and aligning our priorities with those of the Data-Driven Innovation programme,” said Dr Lonsdale.

At UCLan, Dr Lonsdale led the transformation of a knowledge transfer service into a new innovation and enterprise function. His doctoral research focussed on academic entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial ecosystems in universities, and he has commercial experience gained with Rolls-Royce plc and National Nuclear Laboratory.

“John has an impressive record and a clear vision for the direction we want to move in. The Enterprise Services team has an exciting future delivering new routes to impact for the University, and I’m delighted to have John leading that work.”


– Dr George Baxter, Chief Executive Officer, Edinburgh Innovations

Related links

Business Insider


Dialysis pioneer Invizius named ‘Best Innovative MedTech’

Dialysis pioneer Invizius named ‘Best Innovative MedTech’

Invizius, the Edinburgh spinout whose technology promises to improve the lives of millions of dialysis patients, has been named Best Innovative MedTech company at the prestigious OBN Awards.

The company’s success in the awards, which have a high profile in the life sciences sector, follows on from a seed investment of £500,000 from Mercia Fund Managers in May 2018.

Reducing risk

Invizius’ H-Guard™ product acts as a primer that ‘hides’ the blood filter used in dialysis from the body’s immune system. This has the potential to greatly cut the risks of cardiovascular disease, which severely reduces life expectancy among long-term dialysis patients.

“The team is enormously proud that our innovation has been recognised with this prestigious award. The company is on an exciting journey and this adds to our momentum.”


– Richard Boyd, Chief Executive Officer, Invizius

While Invizius’s first product is aimed at kidney dialysis, there is also potential to use the technology with other devices or procedures such as cardiopulmonary bypass, catheters, stents, organ transplants and vascular grafts.

The company stems from years of research by Invizius’s Chief Technology Officer, biochemist Dr Andy Herbert, and his team while working at the University’s School of Chemistry.

Business support

With the support of Edinburgh Innovations, the team secured translational funding from Scottish Enterprise’s High-Growth Spinout Programme and went on to launch the company in April 2018.

“Congratulations to the team for this well-deserved award. Invizius holds the promise of truly global impact, and we look forward to continuing to support the company as its technology and business develop.”


– Dr George Baxter, Chief Executive Officer, Edinburgh Innovations

The funding from Mercia was the first deal to be announced since a partnership agreement was formed between Mercia and the University of Edinburgh to help identify investment opportunities in the Scottish region.

“It’s fantastic to see the Invizius team win this coveted award just six months after our investment through our partnership with the University of Edinburgh. We are proud to back the business as it goes from strength to strength and continues to develop a disruptive product that has the potential to make a real difference to the lives of dialysis patients.”


– Dr Nicola Broughton, Head of Universities, Mercia

The OBN Awards, in their 10th year, were presented at a ceremony at the Examination Schools, University of Oxford.

“We received an outstanding number of entries this year so competition has been really tough. All our winners and nominees this year are truly innovative and set a great example to the rest of the industry,” said John Harris, Chief Executive Officer of OBN.

Related links

OBN awards


Spinout deal offers dialysis hope



Carbogenics takes top prize in Converge Challenge

Carbogenics takes top prize in Converge Challenge

Carbogenics, a spinout company that turns disposable coffee cups into fertiliser, has taken the coveted top prize in Converge Challenge 2018, and fellow Edinburgh Innovations clients won the awards’ Social Enterprise and Kickstart prizes.

The annual awards for entrepreneurs from Scottish universities and research institutes were presented at a ceremony in Edinburgh attended by more than 200 Scottish business and entrepreneurial leaders. More than £160,000 was awarded to 10 winners.

Top prize

Carbogenics, which took the leading award – the Converge Challenge 2018 – was founded by Dr Jan Mumme of the School of Geosciences. The company has developed a novel process to turn disposable coffee cups and other non-recyclable paper-based waste into a material that can act as a soil enhancer and boost renewable energy production.

The material – called CreChar – can increase yields from biogas generators. It can also be used as a fertiliser, and to treat waste water from industrial processes.

Social impact

One Cherry, an online marketplace for second-hand shops, picked up the Social Enterprise Award. The prize recognises ideas that have a positive impact on wider social and environmental issues.

The venture was founded by Anton Puzorjov, a PhD student in the School of Biological Sciences.

Reducing losses

The winner of the Kickstart Award for best start-up project was Crover, which is developing the first remote probing device that maps conditions inside grain storage silos, to help reduce losses.

The company was founded by Lorenzo Conti, a PhD student in the School of Engineering.

“All three Edinburgh winners have shown inspiring entrepreneurial vision, skills and drive. We look forward to continuing to support these enterprises as they grow and deliver economic and societal impact.”


– Gordon Donald, Chief Operating Officer, Edinburgh Innovations

All three winners were also successful at the Edinburgh Innovations’ Inspire Launch Grow awards in June this year. Carbogenics, One Cherry and Crover have each been supported by Edinburgh Innovations to help create and develop their businesses.

Related links

BBC story

University of Edinburgh story

Converge Challenge


HyperionDev launches CoGrammar code review service

HyperionDev launches CoGrammar code review service

Education technology startup HyperionDev has rebranded as CoGrammar and launched a recruitment drive for code reviewers as part of a new business-to-business service, following a successful pre-Series A fundraising.

CoGrammar, an Edinburgh Innovations client founded by Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science graduate Riaz Moola, offers code review and mentoring as a service, aiming to partner with providers of computer coding education. Meanwhile, the company’s own successful online coding bootcamp will continue under the HyperionDev product name.

In the recent funding round, HyperionDev, based in the UK and South Africa, received offers from four UK and US venture capital funds, and accepted an undisclosed sum from investors that have chosen to remain private.

The new capital has enabled the company to scale to a team of 40, and to launch its new code review service.

‘Enormous potential’

“Our online training bootcamp has grown to one of the largest in the world – we have up to 40,000 students in 40 countries. But CoGrammar is way more ambitious. We can be the engine for all coding education across the globe – CoGrammar has enormous growth potential.”


– Riaz Moola, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, HyperionDev

Moola first saw the opportunity in coding education when he encountered a wide variation in coding skills as a student, both in his native South Africa and at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics, where he studied from 2011 to 2014.

He received support from Edinburgh Innovations’ enterprise development team, including help with business strategy, pitching for investment and connecting with advisers and mentors.

In 2016, HyperionDev won a funding award from Google, followed by the Innovation Challenge at the internet.org competition run by Facebook, securing $230,000.

Serving global brands

HyperionDev, focused mostly on the African market, aims to enable students to become software developers after following its bootcamp course for six months. CoGrammar promises to create a new cohort of code reviewers who can serve global edtech brands.

“We are grateful for the support of our new backers which have allowed us to set our sights on tackling a more ambitious vision – setting the global standard for code review,” says Moola.

“CoGrammar enables education brands around the world to integrate on-demand mentorship and code review into their coding education programmes at an affordable cost, making effective software development education scalable.

“We make this possible through a new career path – copywriter for code – which we’ve created in the African market. We’re now accepting applications for our first cohort of CoGrammars.”

Edinburgh plans

The company has offices in Cape Town and London and plans to open in Edinburgh in the next phase of its growth.

“There is a group within Edinburgh’s School of Informatics that does research into automated code review, and we want to collaborate with them on code review supported by AI and humans,” says Moola.

“When we look to hire talent as part of that development, we will definitely look to the Edinburgh startup ecosystem and the School of Informatics.”

Related links



Pioneering virtual reality in drug design

Pioneering virtual reality in drug design

A collaboration between computational chemists and a tech start-up is pioneering the use of virtual reality to speed up drug design.

A team of scientists at the University of Edinburgh, supported by Edinburgh Innovations, have collaborated for the past year with Bristol-based Interactive Scientific to develop virtual reality prototype software to revolutionise drug-design visualisation, using Interactive Scientific’s Nano Simbox technology.

The project will be showcased at the annual CCPBioSim Meeting in Oxford on 5-7 September.

Drug design processes

Global R&D spending in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector has grown from around $128 billion in 2008 to £158 billion in 2017, to cope with the sheer complexity of the drug discovery process.

Computational chemists currently use structure-based drug design (SBDD) to assist the drug discovery process, utilizing static three-dimensional structures of proteins. Ensemble-based drug design (EBDD) is an emerging alternative to SBDD that exploits the flexible nature of proteins and utilizes dynamic structural ensemble representations of proteins.

As part of activities funded by the European Research Council, a team led by Dr Julien Michel at Edinburgh has developed new EBDD software to generate such structural ensembles from a combination of experiments and molecular simulations.

However, currently there is no efficient way for researchers to interact with representations of structural ensembles, the multiple stable conformations of a protein. This new project explores the development of virtual reality based user interfaces (VRUI) to offer unprecedented possibilities and create novel ways of visualizing, operating on, and gaining insights from molecular simulations to explore these different protein structures.

Edinburgh’s computational chemists developed the back-end molecular simulation software, while Interactive Scientific created the front-end visual realisation to develop the new approach.

The collaboration was funded by a European Research Council Proof of Concept Grant, and supported by Edinburgh Innovations, which managed issues such as intellectual property and the terms of the collaborative agreement.

VR for better visualisation

The proof of concept developed offers insight into a VRUI that allows efficient visualisation of sets of molecular dynamics trajectories. The prototype software has been used to explore molecular motions of different complexity on a set of therapeutically relevant proteins.

The project summary, titled “A Virtual Reality Interface For Ensemble-Based Drug Design”, will be delivered by Dr Jordi Juarez-Jimenez, of the University’s School of Chemistry, during the sixth Annual CCPBioSim Meeting: Molecular Simulations in Drug Discovery and Development; a showcase of biomolecular simulation methods and applications hosted at the University of Oxford.

It is expected that this new generation software, which incorporates molecular dynamics information in to drug-design flows, will reduce time and money spent in drug discovery pipeline. Interactive Scientific will launch its research and development software in autumn 2018.

Related links

Interactive Scientific