Students triumph with their Fresh Ideas

Students triumph with their Fresh Ideas

Two teams of LAUNCH.ed clients have triumphed in the Scottish Institute of Enterprise’s 2017-18 Fresh Ideas competition.

Lorenzo Conti, a PhD student in the School of Engineering’s Institute for Infrastructure and the Environment, was one of the five main competition winners, receiving £1,000 for Crover, a sensor that will move through grain silos to detect early signs of spoilage.

Exciting potential

“Lorenzo has done brilliantly by taking his interesting technology and applying it in a way that will have an extremely positive impact on food stocks, potentially globally,” said Ross McLennan, Enterprise Development Executive at Edinburgh Innovations. “This SIE award is deserved recognition of the exciting potential of Crover.”

Ana Betancourt and Gabrielle Haley, both recent graduates of Edinburgh College of Art’s Sound Design MSc, were also winners in the main competition.

Their post-production sound and audio design company, Black Goblin Audio, creates affordable solutions for creators, and has recently produced a unique audio walking tour of the West End of Edinburgh.

Passion and hard work

“Ana and Gabrielle’s passion for and expertise in sound production are clear, and this SIE award is well deserved for the hard work they have put in to building Black Goblin Audio,” said McLennan.

In the Special Awards section, Daniela Schnitzler, a PhD student at the Roslin Institute, and Rachel Bews of the University of Highlands & Islands took the £500 Social Enterprise Award for ALICAS, which supports survivors of domestic abuse. This means four of the 12 winners announced at the Awards Dinner were Edinburgh students or recent graduates.

Seeds for economic growth

Fiona Godsman, CEO of the Scottish Institute for Enterprise, said: “It’s been another excellent year for Fresh Ideas and we’ve seen some fabulous entries, each representing a bright new idea at an early stage of development.

“It’s from these seeds that Scotland’s economy grows and we’re delighted to recognise them tonight and give them the help and support they need to succeed.”

SIE helps young people find, refine and develop ideas and the skills they need to develop them, with many alumni going on to further success in competitions and funding applications. In 2016-17, SIE alumni secured more than £6.5 million of funding and investment.

Related links

SIE Fresh Ideas winners

Data innovation solving real-world challenges

Data innovation solving real-world challenges

As the University takes a leading role in plans to create the data capital of Europe as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, data scientists have joined multinational companies and public bodies to find new ways to use data for social and economic benefit.

Companies including drinks group Diageo and global technical professional services firm Jacobs and organisations including City of Edinburgh Council and NHS National Services Scotland put their data-related challenges to the University, which were answered at a data-focused AIMday – Academic Industry Meeting day.

The questions were addressed at AIMday Data by researchers with expertise in the issues put forward.

Previous AIMdays, which are hosted by Edinburgh Innovations, have led to lasting collaborations between University researchers and businesses and policy makers.

At AIMday Data a series of one-hour focused workshops tackled a wide range of issues, from how to use Blockchain technology to allow online voting, to how to combine multiple large datasets to tackle environmental issues.

Social benefits

Jacobs posed the challenge of how to use data to demonstrate the social benefits of infrastructure investment.

David Glen, Jacobs Divisional Director, explained: “Infrastructure investment can help improve social inclusion. A road or rail project might provide more access to jobs, leading to lower unemployment, less reliance on benefits, and a stronger sense of community, but these benefits are not often articulated.”

Mr Glen said AIMday gave him new insights into the University’s expertise and the potential for working together for mutual benefit.

“The day really helped to highlight all the work being done by the University in this field,” he said. “It’s given us new ideas on how we could work more closely with the University in the future.”

NHS National Services Scotland asked for researchers’ insights into how to make appropriate data more available to others, and how to use more data that other organisations are producing.

Jonathan Cameron, Head of Service, Strategic Development, said the University and the NHS already had a close working relationship, but the event opened up new possibilities for working with data experts.

“The discussion was very helpful, very insightful in fact, and has given us food for thought,” said Mr Cameron. “I think we have a way forward on two or three points, and I’m really encouraged that there will be collaborations and potential work coming out of this, work that will have some impact and benefit.”

Data-driven innovation

The University of Edinburgh is leading the Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) programme of the £1 billion Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, a unique opportunity for the University to partner in an ambitious project for inclusive economic growth.

The DDI programme aims to establish the region as the data capital of Europe, attracting investment, fuelling entrepreneurship and delivering inclusive growth. The University will work in partnership with businesses, local authorities, government agencies, schools, colleges, universities and other organisations, to open new areas of work and economic value.

Dr George Baxter, Chief Executive Officer of Edinburgh Innovations, said: “The City Region Deal offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity. The University’s ability to collaborate across sectors to solve real-world economic and social challenges, as illustrated by AIMday Data and our many existing partnerships, shows we are perfectly placed to build this global capability and benefit our local and regional community.”

Related links

University news: AIMday Data

BBC News: City Region Deal



Celebrating enterprising women

Celebrating enterprising women

To mark International Women’s Day at Edinburgh Innovations we are celebrating enterprising women it is our privilege to work with.

From entrepreneurs who have formed startup companies to researchers who solve challenges for industry and policy makers, we have supported a wide range of people, projects and commercial success stories that turn University of Edinburgh talent into impact for society.

Here we present a selection of the women whose work is having a direct impact on people’s lives across a range of fields.

Inventors and company creators

Dr Liita Iyaloo Cairney is enabling girls in Africa to attend school with dignity, through her company Kalitasha and its first product, the Koree, a reusable feminine hygiene product. Kalitasha recently secured its first sales, to a charity that will trial Koree in Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana and Zambia. Supported by LAUNCH.ed while a PhD student, Dr Cairney is an inspiring, visionary public speaker as well as an entrepreneur.

Dr Fiona Denison is the creator of the multi-award-winning Birthing Mirror, an adjustable, illuminated, submersible mirror to help midwives and birthing mums to view the birth process more easily. Dr Denison is a Senior Lecturer and Honorary NHS Consultant in Maternal and Fetal Medicine.

Dr Lissa Herron is pioneering the use of hens’ eggs as bioreactors to create proteins that have a variety of medical therapeutic and research applications. Dr Herron is a Royal Society of Edinburgh/BBSRC Enterprise Fellow at the Roslin Institute, and founder of Eggcellent Proteins.

Meeting industry challenges

Dr Louise Horsfall is working with the global drinks company Diageo to produce recoverable copper nanoparticles from distillery by-products using bacteria. Professor Horsfall is Co-chair of the Bioengineering and Bioprocessing Section of the European Federation of Biotechnology and holds an EPSRC five-year Early Career Fellowship in Engineering for Sustainability and Resilience.

Dr Tiffany Wood is working with Mentholatum, manufacture of Deep Heat, in a collaboration supported by a Royal Society Fellowship. She has worked with more than 20 companies from agrochemicals to pharmaceuticals and food to find innovative solutions to commercial challenges. She is Director of the Edinburgh Complex Fluids Partnership.

Professor Susan Rosser is working with Unilever and the John Innes Centre to produce plant-derived saponins – the active ingredient in soaps and detergents. Professor Rosser is Director of the Edinburgh Mammalian Synthetic Biology Research Centre and Co-director of the Edinburgh Genome Foundry. She holds an EPSRC Leadership Fellowship in Synthetic Biology.

Influencing policy and practice

Dr Gitit Kadar-Satat is working with Fathers Network Scotland to make primary schools in East Lothian more dad-friendly, with a view to expanding the work to a wider geographical area and into other family services.

Professor Antonella Sorace is founder and Director of Bilingualism Matters, a service offering information to parents and teachers on language research and language learning. Bilingualism Matters, which was launched in 2008, now has 18 branches across Europe and the US.

Photographs: top row from left: Dr Liita Iyaloo Cairney, Dr Fiona Denison, Dr Lissa Herron, Dr Louise Horsfall; bottom row from left: Dr Tiffany Wood, Professor Susan Rossser, Dr Gitit Kadar-Satat, Professor Antonella Sorace.

Related links


Dr Fiona Denison research profile

Dr Lissa Herron research profile

Dr Louise Horsfall research profile

Dr Tiffany Wood research profile

Professor Susan Rosser research profile

Dr Gitit Kadar-Satat research profile

Bilingualism Matters

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day annual lecture

Trio of startups selected for leading sustainability programme

Trio of startups selected for leading sustainability programme

Three Edinburgh Innovations clients have won backing from Europe’s largest sustainability entrepreneurship programme, Climate-KIC.

Sustainable bioprocessing specialist uFraction8, online charity shopping startup One Cherry, and flatpack toaster designer Kasey Hou have been selected for the prestigious Climate-KIC Accelerator programme.

Alongside five other winners they will each receive up to €10,000 of funding plus business support and office space for four months, as the first part of a potential three-stage programme that could last up to 18 months.

All eight companies will be hosted by the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, the Scottish home of Climate-KIC, one of the Knowledge and Innovation Communities created in 2010 by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.

Charity shopping app

“It’s amazing news. It’s something that we’ve been aiming for, but not long ago it was just a dream,” said Anton Puzorjov, founder of One Cherry. “I know people who have been part of Climate-KIC and I know that their businesses are growing. It was an aspiration to be among them.”

One Cherry’s phone app lists clothing and other items for sale in second-hand shops, which users will be able to browse and buy online. It successfully trialled its service in late 2017 and is planning a market launch later this year.

Puzorjov is a first-year PhD student at the University of Edinburgh and has been supported by LAUNCH.ed throughout his time as an Edinburgh student, which started in 2012 as an undergraduate.

“The way I’m thinking now and the way I’m putting the company forward ­­­– none of this would have happened if I hadn’t had the support of LAUNCH.ed,” he said.

Biomass filtration

uFraction8 provides scalable bioprocessing technology enabling biomass filtration, separation and dewatering with no harm and no flocculants, unlike centrifuges, filters and membranes.

Edinburgh Innovations has worked closely with uFraction8 on making business connections, sourcing investment opportunities, and pitching for funding. The company recently won the £100,000 Higgs prize at the Scottish EDGE awards.

Flatpack toaster

Kasey Hou aims to reduce electronic waste by creating products that can be easily repaired by the consumer. Her company’s first product will be a self-assembly flatpack toaster, which she created as part of her product design degree at Edinburgh College of Art.

LAUNCH.ed client Hou said: “Starting from scratch, professional support from LAUNCH.ed has helped me put together my business idea and refine my business plan. It helped a great deal when I applied for the Climate-KIC programme.

“Running a startup business is like putting puzzles together, because it requires bits and pieces of different expertise. With supports and resources from the Climate-KIC Accelerator, I am confident that I will be able to put every piece of puzzle together and have a successful business launch.”

Related links

Scottish Business News Network


The BOX is open

The BOX is open

The all-new version of Edinburgh Innovations’ online portal to connect researchers with industrial opportunities is live.

The BOX (Business Opportunity Exchange) contains details of EI’s latest commercial opportunities, against which academics can register their interest. It also enables academics themselves to share opportunities in which others may wish to collaborate.

Once a member of University staff registers interest via the BOX, an Edinburgh Innovations colleague will contact the researcher to pursue an appropriate collaboration route. The BOX hosts opportunities such as collaborative research projects, studentships and consultancy work, as well as industry meetings and events.

Easier to find opportunities

“The BOX aims to increase communication and visibility of the types of commercial opportunities that Edinburgh Innovations facilitates across the University,” says Alex Cassidy, Programme Manager. “It also aims to make it easier for academics to make commercial contacts.”

The relaunched BOX is an entirely new interface, but development will continue. Once data is gathered on users’ behaviour and needs, it is hoped its functionality can be expanded to meet additional user requirements.

Related links

The BOX (requires University EASE login)