Success for student and staff innovators

Success for student and staff innovators

A process that turns disposable coffee cups into fertiliser, an app for buying and selling from charity shops and an online hub for ‘clean beauty’ brands were among winners in Edinburgh Innovations’ annual enterprise awards.

Products and services pioneered by staff, students and recent graduates were celebrated at the 2018 Inspire Launch Grow awards, hosted by Edinburgh Innovations at the Playfair Library in Old College.

Five categories

Twenty-two finalists presented their businesses to a panel of judges earlier in the month. Winners in five categories were announced at the awards event on Wednesday, 13 June, with prizes of up to £5,000 presented.

Finalists ranged from businesses at the early stages of developing their product to more established companies with growing customer bases.

“I congratulate all the finalists and winners, and we look forward to continuing to support them on their journeys as entrepreneurs.”

– Dr George Baxter, CEO, Edinburgh Innovations.

Winner of the Emerging Innovation Award for staff was University spin-out company Carbogenics, founded by Dr Jan Mumme of the School of Geosciences.

Dr Mumme said: “Winning was unexpected, especially against such strong competitors. We have felt so supported by the University and our business advisers.”

Green solution

Carbogenics has developed a novel process to turn disposable coffee cups and other non-recyclable paper-based waste into a material called CreChar. It can be used as a soil enhancer and in other applications including boosting the productivity of biogas generators and in waste water treatment. The process of making CreChar is carbon-negative, capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Taking the Emerging Innovation Award for students was Crover, founded by Lorenzo Conti, a PhD student in the School of Engineering. He has developed a remote probing device, the first that is able to move within silos of stored grain.

Crover gives real time measurements of factors such as moisture and temperature, enabling early detection of potential spoilage and reducing waste and financial losses.

Business support

Recent MBA graduate Raquel Wing’s company The Clean Hub won the Enterprise Award. It is the world’s first and only resource hub and support network for founders of clean beauty companies – those that use no known toxins. It already has around 180 brands signed up.

The Social and Environmental Award was won by One Cherry, which was founded by Anton Puzorjov, a PhD student in the School of Biological Sciences.

One Cherry is an online marketplace for second-hand retailers, such as charity shops. Shops can upload images of their stock in less than 20 seconds per item, expanding their reach to customers, and customers can shop for second-hand items from anywhere and on any device.

Pioneering technique

The Innovation Cup went to uFraction8, founded by engineering alumnus Dr Brian Miller. He and his team have developed a pioneering hydrodynamic technique for cell separation and de-watering. His innovation uses less energy and produces higher yields than conventional methods.

In addition to the five competition winners, a special Entrepreneurial Achiever Award was presented to Enactus Edinburgh, a group of 83 students who recently won a national competition for social entrepreneurs and will represent the UK at the Enactus World Cup in California in October.

Among the judges were senior figures from Scotland’s angel investor scene. Also present were successful entrepreneurs who have previously been supported by Edinburgh Innovations and its service for student entrepreneurs, LAUNCH.ed.

Among them were Sam Howarth and Jack Ryder, founders of Bump, the online marketplace for streetwear, which recently attracted substantial investment after completing the prestigious Y Combinator accelerator programme in California. Bump was a joint winner of the Inspire Launch Grow Enterprise Award in 2017.

Speakers included David Hunter, creator of Shotscope, the golf performance tracking system. Mr Hunter has received support from Edinburgh Innovations and LAUNCH.ed, having studied at Moray House School of Education in 2012-13.


Related links

University news story



The Clean Hub

One Cherry



Shot Scope


MiAlgae set to shake up feed sector after £500,000 investment

MiAlgae set to shake up feed sector after £500,000 investment

MiAlgae, a student-launched startup that aims to revolutionise the animal and fish feed industries with microalgae made from the co-products of whisky, has received £500,000 from investors.

The company, founded by Douglas Martin while a masters student at the University of Edinburgh in 2015-16, grows algae rich in omega-3 and other nutrients using co-products from the whisky distillation process.

The microalgae produced can be used as a raw material for agricultural food products, with the company initially targeting the aquaculture industry, whose future growth is predicted to require new sources of feed.

Pilot plant

The investment, in equal shares from Equity Gap, the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scotland’s enterprise agencies, and the University’s venture fund Old College Capital, will enable the company to expand its team and build a pilot plant for its technology at a whisky distillery.

“This is a huge deal for us,” said Martin. “This investment will fund the initial scale-up steps and de-risk our commercial facility. It certainly sets us on track to achieve our ambitions.”

The £500,000 seed investment in MiAlgae follows a series of competition and funding successes. Martin obtained a Smart: Scotland grant in 2017, has progressed through the EU’s three-stage Climate-KIC Accelerator programme hosted at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, has had competition success including Scottish EDGE Young EDGE and Innovate UK, and was recently named Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year. He will pitch at the 2018 Scottish EDGE final on 29  May.

Student support

Martin has been supported by LAUNCH.ed  since January 2016 when he was studying MSC Synthetic Biology and Biotechnology. LAUNCH.ed has helped him to develop and launch his business, apply and pitch for grants and competitions, and connect with mentors and investors.

“It’s wonderful to see investors show confidence in Douglas and MiAlgae. The innovation of his process and the way it will help the environment have great potential. His journey shows what is possible for our entrepreneurial students, and we’re delighted to see MiAlgae reach this important milestone.”

Dr George Baxter, Chief Executive Officer, Edinburgh Innovations

Martin will be looking to expand the company’s production capacity 30-fold and will be expanding his team of two, to reach five.

Aquaculture is worth £1.8 billion a year to the Scottish economy, according to latest Scottish Government figures, but Martin’s ambition does not stop with aquaculture or Scotland.

Ambitious plans

“We’re looking at multiple industries in the supply side, multiple industries at the product side, then diversification into multiple products beyond feeds,” said Martin. “There are lots of things we can do with our products.”

Kerry Sharp, head of the Scottish Investment Bank, said: “This is an exciting new equity investment for Scottish Enterprise into a company that has utilised the circular economy to make an innovative and valuable product. The funding round will also allow high value R&D employment opportunities to be created in rural Scotland with the roll out of the new pilot plant.”

Fraser Lusty, Director at Business Angel Group Equity Gap, said: “We’re delighted to lead the first scale round for MiAlgae alongside OCC and SIB. Douglas is an exceptional talent and has made remarkable progress in a novel solution for sustainable food production. We look forward to supporting him and the company through this exciting next phase.”


BBC: Company invents ‘whisky fish food’

FinTech Scotland announces Chairman and strategic partners

FinTech Scotland announces Chairman and strategic partners

FinTech Scotland, established by the Scottish Government, the University of Edinburgh and the private sector to boost growth in Scotland’s financial technology sector, has appointed David Ferguson, founder of investment wrap service Nucleus Financial, as its inaugural Chairman.

The appointment was confirmed at a joint Scottish Government and Financial Services Advisory Board (FiSAB) meeting chaired by the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and Chair of Scottish Financial Enterprise Jim Pettigrew. Four companies were also named as FinTech Scotland strategic partners.

Fintech envoy

David Ferguson, founder and Chief Executive of Edinburgh-based fintech business Nucleus Financial, was appointed by the UK Treasury in December 2016 as one of two fintech envoys for Scotland, with a remit to build regional and national networks for greater co-ordination and collaboration between fintech companies, government, investors and regional fintech hubs.

FinTech Scotland Chief Executive Stephen Ingledew said: “It was essential for us to have a highly respected fintech leader chairing our board and David, who has built one of the most successful businesses in the country managing over £14 billion on their wrap platform, ticked all the boxes and more.”

“It is a great privilege to have been appointed as chair of the FinTech Scotland board. Fintech is a fantastic opportunity for Scotland and I am excited to build on the great strides we have recently made to position ourselves as a global leader.


The country should have a bright and prosperous fintech future ahead of it and I am greatly looking forward to helping Stephen and the team drive the sector forward and deliver meaningful action to help both start-ups to flourish and the more substantial financial services establishments to modernise.”


– David Ferguson, Chairman of FinTech Scotland

Edinburgh Innovations played a key role in the establishment of FinTech Scotland, and has provided office accommodation to the FinTech Scotland team. At the FiSAB meeting Ingledew set out FinTech Scotland’s ambitious vision and strategy to make Scotland a top five global fintech centre by 2020 that is recognised for data driven fintech innovation delivering positive social outcomes.

Strategic partners

To deliver a range of initiatives, FinTech Scotland has partnered with global enterprises who have a strong presence in Scotland as well as being significant international leaders in their fields: professional services firm Deloitte, fintech legal specialist Pinsent Masons, digital media and maketing agency Dentsu Aegis Network, and digital transformation and software group Sopra Steria.

Ingledew said: “It is a privilege to be working with such world-renowned organisations who are committed to supporting Scotland’s fintech economy. Following many conversations with a range of large firms over recent months, these strategic partners demonstrated their commitment and market leadership which will support our aspirations and plans. We are currently in discussions with a view to confirming additional strategic partners in the coming weeks”

Related links

Initiative targets fintech growth

Edinburgh Innovations joins fintech initiative

Spinout deal offers dialysis hope

Spinout deal offers dialysis hope

Invizius, a spinout company whose technology could save the lives of thousands of dialysis patients, has secured £500,000 from Mercia Fund Managers, in the first investment since Mercia and the University formed a partnership agreement in November 2017.

Invizius stems from years of research by biochemist Dr Andy Herbert and his team, who believe they have found a way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease among patients undergoing long-term dialysis. The investment will allow the company to build its team and take the product to the next stage of development in preparation for clinical trials.

The University signed a partnership agreement with Mercia in November 2017, which included hosting Mercia staff on campus and Mercia earmarking funding for investment in technologies and business opportunities developed by the University.

It is wonderful to see the first fruits of this new and exciting collaboration, demonstrating the value of having commercial partners hosted on campus by the University. The investment reflects the great potential of this technology to change many people’s lives, which is typical of the innovation emerging from our research.

– Hugh Edmiston, Director of Corporate Services, University of Edinburgh

‘Hiding’ the blood filter

Despite improvements in dialysis therapy, cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death for dialysis patients. Today, almost half of all dialysis patients die from cardiovascular complications, and life expectancy on dialysis is just one-third of that for the general population. The patient’s immune system sees the dialysis filter as a foreign body, creating inflammation that damages the cardiovascular system over time.

Invizius’s H-Guard™ product is a powerful anti-inflammatory used as a ‘primer’ to coat the filter surface which, when mixed with the patient’s blood, makes the surface seem less foreign to the patient’s immune system. Unlike some other proposed solutions, H-Guard does not shut down the immune system but instead effectively ‘hides’ the device from it to prevent an immune response.

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

Invizius is led by Chief Executive Officer Richard Boyd, who previously founded VueKlar Cardiovascular, with Dr Herbert as Chief Technology Officer. The team has spent six years developing the technology with support from world-leading dialysis manufacturers, Kidney Research UK, and £600,000 from Scottish Enterprise’s High Growth Spin Out Programme.

Partnership success

Edinburgh Innovations, which manages industry engagement for the University of Edinburgh, has supported the researchers throughout the commercialisation process, which started with their novel scientific findings and included the recent launch of the spinout company.

I’m delighted to see this substantial investment in a University spinout company, whose work holds such promise for many patients. It’s a perfect example of how partnerships can enhance the University’s impact, and Edinburgh Innovations looks forward to working with Mercia and our researchers to identify and support further such opportunities.

– Dr George Baxter, Chief Executive Officer, Edinburgh Innovations

Richard Boyd said Mercia’s ability to back and help develop life sciences businesses from spinout through to commercialisation “makes them an ideal partner for Invizius”.

Dr Nicola Broughton, Head of Universities at Mercia, said Invizius was an “excellent choice for our first investment under our partnership with the University”. She added: “This technology could revolutionise kidney dialysis and, with three million patients worldwide, has the potential to save countless lives. The funding will take the company one step closer to bringing it to market.”


Related links



‘Spinout deal’ – University news

Social entrepreneurs named national champions

Social entrepreneurs named national champions

A team of Edinburgh students is to represent the UK at the Enactus World Cup for student-run social enterprises in California after being crowned Enactus UK 2018 National Champion.

Enactus Edinburgh, a team of 83 students involved in eight projects, triumphed at the Enactus UK 2018 National Expo in London, where they showcased their work alongside 31 other finalists. They will now represent the UK in San Jose in Silicon Valley in October.

Being crowned National Champion feels like a very surreal experience. Our entire team of 83 students has put in a tremendous amount of effort to create and run projects that are truly impactful and life-changing, and to have our hard work recognised makes our work in Enactus even more rewarding.

– Ines El-Saui, President of Enactus Edinburgh

Pitch perfect

The team’s winning pitch particularly highlighted three of its newest projects: Aiding Change, an enterprise providing affordable solar powered hearing aids in Ghana; and two enterprises – Lilypads and Sanitree – that provide reusable sanitary pads for women and girls in Kenya and India, and provide free menstrual health education.

The Enactus Edinburgh team, all undergraduates, come from a wide range of Schools. Presenting at the London finals were Ines El-Saui, a fourth-year Social Anthropology with Development student, Mhairi Cochrane, a second-year History student; Kofi Kufuor, a third-year Civil Engineering student; and Nicolette Cross, a third-year Physics student.

I congratulate all the Enactus Edinburgh students and those who have supported them, and I wish the team well in the international final. The students and their projects all show a passion to improve the lives of others combined with entrepreneurial drive. It’s a delight to see this flourish as part of their Edinburgh student experience.

– Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of Edinburgh

Local and international projects

In addition to Aiding Change, Lilypads and Sanitree, the Edinburgh projects are: Slurp, a soup enterprise working with marginalised youth in Edinburgh; the Edinburgh Candle Company, which trains unemployed women to make and sell candles from home; Palma, an insect repellent soap company run by unemployed people in the Dominican Republic and Malawi; and Fog Catcher in Nepal where community members make fog collection devices with a bio-sand water filtration system.

Enactus Edinburgh is a registered Social Enterprise Group under a support partnership with Edinburgh University Students’ Association and Edinburgh Innovations, which manages industry engagement for the University.

“I have been highly impressed by the creativity, professionalism and entrepreneurial spirit displayed by the team throughout the Enactus year and the impact they have achieved, and their win is well deserved. They demonstrate so well the skills and attributes that we endeavour to build in our students.”

– Alison Gee, Enterprise Development Manager, Edinburgh Innovations

Team development

Meher Kalenderian, Head of Student Activities at Edinburgh University Students’ Association, says he has watched Enactus Edinburgh develop over several years, including reaching the UK final in the previous two years.

“It is thanks to their enthusiasm, dedication and hard work that they managed to be in the finals three years in a row, with a well-deserved win this year,” said Kalenderian. “This is a clear indication of the impact students can have in the communities when you combine their talent, skills and hard work, with tailored support within a sustainable structure.”

Student support

El-Saui had her first taste of social entrepreneurship when she joined Enactus in her second year, and has since been supported by both Edinburgh University Students’ Association and LAUNCH.ed, Edinburgh Innovations’ service for student entrepreneurs.

“The support we have received from the Students’ Association and LAUNCH.ed has been instrumental in both my development as a budding social entrepreneur and our growth and success as a team,” said El-Saui. “They have provided us with invaluable support and advice in gaining funding and running businesses, which has given us confidence to solve real-world problems and create positive change.”

El-Saui says the Enactus World Cup in October will be an opportunity to see the work of other teams from around the world.

“The World Cup is great proof that when students, educators and business leaders come together, great things happen. It is really inspiring to hear about the outstanding achievements of other teams and we see the World Cup as an opportunity to learn from others in order to multiply our impact across the globe.”

See the winning presentation

Enactus Edinburgh will give the presentation that earned the title of UK National Champion at a showcase event on 10 May.

Enactus Edinburgh Showcase 2018, 3pm – 4pm, 10 May 2018, Teviot Debating Hall.

Information and booking

Related links


Student team enjoys social enterprise success (University news)