The Royal Society has appointed two Entrepreneurs in Residence to be hosted by the University as part of a UK-wide scheme to translate world-leading research into new commercial opportunities.
Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, creator of Genius bread and other gluten-free foods, and Dr Fiona Riddoch, energy sector entrepreneur, consultant and policy adviser, will spend one day a week working at the University for the next two years, based in the Schools of Physics & Astronomy and Engineering, respectively.
They will be funded by the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science, to help commercialise research, foster entrepreneurism and help develop industry-ready graduates. They are among 19 Entrepreneurs in Residence appointed across the UK in a new annual scheme.
Ms Bruce-Gardyne, a professionally trained chef, founded Genius in 2009, in response to her search for high quality gluten-free and wheat-free bread suitable for her gluten-intolerant son. Genius went on to become the UK’s biggest ‘free from’ bakery brand, with its products widely sold in supermarkets.
She has previously collaborated with researchers at the Edinburgh Complex Fluids Partnership within the School of Physics & Astronomy, on developing ingredients and processes for her company.
“I am thrilled and honoured to be appointed Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence for the School of Physics & Astronomy. I look forward to working with staff, researchers and students to build a culture that embraces entrepreneurial activity and collaborations within the School, the University and industry.”
– Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Dr Riddoch has held leadership roles in large and small companies including start-ups, and for more than two decades was managing director of COGEN Europe, an industry association for the combined-heat-and-power sector. She has served as a member of the Scottish Government Expert Commission on Energy Regulation, and as convener of the European Energy Efficiency Industrial Forum.
She has previously worked with the University on commercialisation, helping spinout company Artemis Intelligent Power introduce its technology to the wind power market.
“It is the first time that the Royal Society has funded these Residencies so it is quite a privilege. Over the two years, I’ll be delighted if we can point to direct results in terms of projects with industry, a stronger industry profile for energy research at Edinburgh and having moved some pieces of innovative research closer to the market by 2020.”
– Dr Fiona Riddoch
Research to impact
George Baxter, Chief Executive Officer at Edinburgh Innovations, said the double appointment reflects the University’s research strengths and its potential to translate that research into economic and social impact.
“We look forward to working with Lucinda and Fiona, who both know first hand how well our academic staff collaborate with industrial partners, making them perfectly placed to contribute to those efforts and leverage their considerable expertise.”
– Dr George Baxter, Chief Executive Officer, Edinburgh Innovations
Selected for experience
Traditionally a feature of venture capital companies, Entrepreneur in Residence schemes have recently become more commonplace in business schools such as Harvard, Stanford and MIT.
The Royal Society has set up its new scheme to support UK universities to translate research into new businesses and commercial products.
Entrepreneurs in Residence are chosen by Fellows of the Royal Society and experts in the field, based on their industrial and entrepreneurial experience and the impacts they could have on their university, its staff and students and the wider economy.
Ms Bruce-Gardyne said her previous collaborative work with the University revealed an “obvious expertise, energy and commitment” among researchers in the food and drink sector. “Even the most abstruse questions about how our gluten-free formulations hold water are met with an open minded fascination and excitement that has led to useful outcomes,” she said.
Dr Riddoch said she saw great potential for the University’s energy expertise to address commercial challenges.
“The current drive to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is having a big impact on energy markets,” she said. “It opens up a wide range of new challenges ranging from customer acceptance and fuel poverty to energy storage and new fuel needs. There are researchers across the University from social science to engineering working on these topics and this is an optimal time to link their work with the market.”
Photograph: Dr Fiona Riddoch, farthest left, with Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, centre, and fellow Royal Society Entrepreneurs in Residence.