May and Sturgeon visit University to sign City Region Deal

May and Sturgeon visit University to sign City Region Deal

Prime Minister Theresa May and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon have visited the University to formally agree the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.

Mrs May and Ms Sturgeon signed the deal at the University’s Bayes Centre, at an event that highlighted data science expertise at the University.

Supporting development

The £1.3 billion investment is designed to accelerate productivity and inclusive growth through the funding of infrastructure, skills training and innovation.

The University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University are partnering to deliver the City Region Deal’s data-driven innovation programme. This aims to increase the contribution of research, data analytics expertise and graduate skills to the region’s economy.

Edinburgh Innovations role

Edinburgh Innovations will play a key role in driving the expansion of University partnerships with commercial and public sector organisations, the delivery of executive education programmes and an increase in company formation.

“I am extremely proud of the role our University has played in helping to develop a City Region Deal that has aligned our unique strengths with the potential for wider regional growth.


“There is tremendous enthusiasm among the University’s staff to use our world-leading research expertise in a range of projects that will tackle the various social and economic challenges in south-east Scotland, and we look forward to working with partners in government and industry to address those needs.


“The City Region Deal also offers an exciting opportunity for greater interdisciplinary working between our academic schools and colleges, delivering insights from new areas of research and allowing us to take the lead in the emerging field of data innovation.”


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


Data innovation hubs

Over the next decade, five data innovation hubs at the University – the Bayes Centre, Edinburgh Futures Institute, Usher Institute, Easter Bush and, with Heriot-Watt University, the National Robotarium – will use high-speed data analytics to meet industry and societal challenges.

The UK and Scottish Governments, and regional partners, are investing in the city region over 10 years across transport, housing, culture, skills and employability and innovation.

The regional partners include the six local authorities of Edinburgh, Midlothian, East Lothian, West Lothian, Fife and the Scottish Borders, plus universities and colleges in the region.

Related links

Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal
Bayes Centre
Edinburgh Futures Institute
Usher Institute
Easter Bush
National Robotarium

Design partners bring digital future to festival crowds

Design partners bring digital future to festival crowds

Edinburgh’s festival-goers are trying out digital innovations developed by a partnership between Tesco Bank and University of Edinburgh students and academics.

Data Pipe Dreams: Glimpse of the Near Future is an interactive pavilion of the Centre for Design Informatics at the University, open throughout August and free to visit on Edinburgh’s George Street.

Tesco Bank collaboration

Three prototypes featured in the pavilion are the result of Project Mercury, a unique collaboration between the Centre of Design Informatics and Tesco Bank designed to explore fintech, develop talent and foster innovation and creative thinking.

‘deedit’ encourages locals and visitors to carry out small acts of kindness, such as picking up litter, buying a sandwich for a stranger or giving directions. Users are encouraged to record their activity via the ‘deedit’ app or website and are shown how their deeds have helped to impact on bigger, positive social change.

‘Lens’ allows visitors to take part in a game that highlights how their personal data – such as Facebook profile or Amazon purchases – might influence their success during a fictional job application.

‘Tess’ lets visitors see what could happen if financial service organisations used artificial intelligence and machine learning to help improve customers’ financial wellbeing. The conceptual device uses lighting effects – such as different colours and levels of brightness – to indicate the health of a customer’s spending habits.

Fintech co-designs

Project Mercury has been running for the past year. Through a series of workshops, lectures and internships, University students and academics have worked in partnership with Tesco Bank’s digital and design-practice department to explore the possibilities of emerging digital technologies, such as blockchain.

“One of the challenges we face is helping people understand the impact new data technologies will have on their lives. The partnership with Tesco Bank has been a fantastic help. Co-designing imaginative, human-centred experiences with the financial sector here in Edinburgh demonstrates that the city is becoming a world leader in fintech design.”


– Chris Speed, Director of the Centre for Design Informatics, University of Edinburgh

The Project Mercury partnership was facilitated by Edinburgh Innovations.

Early discussions soon developed into a relationship between the University and Tesco Bank staff involving 12 students and more than 20 multidisciplinary academics.

Executive education

Tesco Bank staff worked with both students and researchers on the three Data Pipe Dreams projects, while University staff provided an executive education programme, visiting Tesco Bank on a weekly basis for both lectures and ‘deep dive’ workshops in fields including fintech and digital societies.

Internships have taken place in both directions – University staff working at Tesco Bank, and Tesco Bank staff working at the University.

“Working with the University has provided a range of exciting development opportunities for our colleagues. Participants in Project Mercury have explored ways in which we can harness developments in data technologies and how these could be used to help deliver better services for our customers. This partnership demonstrates our commitment to talent development, innovation and the exploration of new and emerging technologies.”


– Grant Bourbousson, Digital Director, Tesco Bank

Related links

BBC coverage

University news

Design Informatics


Trio of RSE Unlocking Ambition Fellows

Trio of RSE Unlocking Ambition Fellows

Three Edinburgh Innovations clients have been appointed as inaugural Royal Society of Edinburgh Unlocking Ambition Enterprise Fellows.

Colin Campbell, Pooja Jain and Cavid Nadirov were among the first 20 fellows announced by Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills Jamie Hepburn MSP.

The Unlocking Ambition Enterprise Fellows will be funded by the RSE for a year and will receive a package of business development support. They will be hosted by Edinburgh Innovations.

‘Appetite for growth’

Announcing the new fellows at a ceremony at the RSE, Mr Hepburn said: “Applications for Unlocking Ambition opened in March this year and only three months later, with the addition of the RSE Enterprise Fellowship entrants, this first cohort is ready to begin its journey.

“This demonstrates the appetite for growth and the innovation potential of businesses in, or wishing to locate in, Scotland.”

The three RSE Unlocking Ambition Enterprise Fellows to be hosted by Edinburgh Innovations are:

  • Colin Campbell, founder of Unlocking Potential, a cloud-based impact evaluation and management tool that measures social capital to demonstrate delivery against stated targets and outcomes.
  • Pooja Jain, founder of CogniHealth, which aims to transform the way both family and professional carers look after people with dementia at home. Its first product, CogniCare, is an app for carers, enabling personalised dementia care. Jain studied at Edinburgh for both her undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences and her MSc in Integrative Neuroscience.
  • Cavid Nadirov, founder of GetGuided, an innovative platform helping travel business, such as hotels, travel agencies and event organisers, find and book local, unique tours and experiences provided by verified suppliers, or instantly book local guides for custom tours. Nadirov studied MSc Human Resources Management at the University of Edinburgh in 2014-15.

“Congratulations to our talented entrepreneurs on both the recognition and the opportunities that come with these Fellowships.


“Colin, Pooja and Cavid all have unique propositions and it’s been our privilege to work with them to help them reach this stage. We look forward to continuing to support them on their journey.”


Dr George Baxter, Chief Executive Officer, Edinburgh Innovations

Challenge fund

The 20 fellowships for early-stage startups hosted by research institutes are part of the wider Scotland CAN DO Unlocking Ambition Challenge, which also supports 20 longer-established SMEs to scale up their operations, in a parallel scheme run by Scottish Enterprise.

In mid-June, Edinburgh Innovations client Douglas Martin, founder of MiAlgae, joined the first cohort of 20 SMEs in the Unlocking Ambition Challenge.

The £4 million Unlocking Ambition Challenge fund, created by the Scottish Government, will support entrepreneurs chosen for their individual potential, the quality of their ideas and the contribution they can make to the Scottish economy and wider society.

Related links

RSE Unlocking Ambition Enterprise Fellowship Programme

Scotland CAN DO Unlocking Ambition Challenge

Startups triumph at Scottish EDGE

Startups triumph at Scottish EDGE

Edinburgh Innovations clients have scooped the biggest awards at round 12 of Scottish EDGE, the UK’s largest entrepreneurship funding competition.

Dr Kate Cameron, founder and CEO of Cytochroma, won the Higgs EDGE prize for businesses focused on science, technology and engineering, and was awarded £150,000, the maximum possible for the Higgs prize.

Toxicology test

Cytochroma offers a low-cost, high-speed drug toxicology testing service using stem-cell-derived liver cells.

Dr Cameron is currently a Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellow, hosted by Edinburgh Innovations and funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

“It is an exciting time for Cytochroma. Winning this money will enable me to build and expand my company, carry out essential validation studies and hopefully attract significant customers and investment.


“I have received incredible support and access to an array of experts at Edinburgh Innovations. The team have provided fantastic advice and helped me develop a strong business plan, which has been essential to my success.”


– Dr Kate Cameron

Dr Cameron was presented with her award by Founder, Chairman and CEO of Clyde Blowers, Jim McColl.

Announcing the award, Scottish EDGE CEO Evelyn McDonald said: “Cytochroma impressed the judging panel with their market knowledge, the advisory team they have established and the entrepreneurial leader. Cytochroma’s ground-breaking liver-based stem cell process has the opportunity to be transformational in medical research.”

Feed sector upstart

Douglas Martin, founder of MiAlgae, took the top prize in the main Scottish EDGE competition, with an award of £100,000.

MiAlgae uses the co-products of the whisky industry to produce omega-3-rich microalgae that promises to revolutionise the animal and fish feed sectors. Martin has been supported by LAUNCH.ed since 2016 when he was studying for an MSc in Biology and Biotechnology.

Martin was presented with his award by Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop MSP.

MiAglae recently attracted seed investment of £500,000, and was recently named Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

PhD pioneers

Two further LAUNCH.ed clients were successful in the awards.

Inrobin, a data-driven insurance platform for industrial assets founded by School of Law PhD student Josep Guerra, won £10,000 in the Wild Card EDGE competition.

The Turing Trust, a social enterprise that supplies refurbished IT equipment and training to schools in sub-Saharan Africa, received a £10,000 award in the Young EDGE category. The trust was established by International Development PhD student James Turing, the great-nephew of renowned computer scientist Alan Turing.


Related links

Scottish EDGE




The Turing Trust

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