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

Partnership boosts cystic fibrosis therapy bid

Partnership boosts cystic fibrosis therapy bid

Edinburgh Innovations has helped facilitate a new collaboration between scientists and leading figures from industry to advance development of a gene therapy for cystic fibrosis.

The UK Cystic Fibrosis Gene Therapy Consortium, of which the University of Edinburgh is a member, will join with Boehringer Ingelheim and Oxford Biomedica to develop a new viral vector-based therapy.

The partnership builds on pioneering research carried out by the consortium including clinical trials, which have shown encouraging results.

Lung condition

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited condition caused by mutations in a gene called CFTR. The disease causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the airways and digestive tract.

People affected by the condition are more prone to lung diseases and have a significantly reduced life expectancy.

Gene therapy aims to fix the faulty gene by delivering a functioning version into a patient’s lung cells.

For the past 17 years, the Gene Therapy Consortium has been working to establish whether gene therapy can become a clinically viable option for patients with cystic fibrosis.

Commercial partnership

Edinburgh Innovations and the University’s legal team negotiated the contracts necessary for the commercial partnership. Edinburgh Innovations also provides support for the intellectual property that is generated by the Edinburgh academics in the Gene Therapy Consortium.

Under the partnership, researchers will share their expertise to develop an inhaled treatment that can be taken forward into clinical trials.

It is hoped that this approach will help people with cystic fibrosis live longer and significantly improve their quality of life.

“This partnership brings together the expertise and support needed to facilitate our aim of realising viral vector-based CF gene therapy. We are delighted that we are now in a position to carry out the crucial pre-clinical work that is required to enable the viral vector system to progress into clinical trials.”


– Dr Chris Boyd, Gene Therapy Consortium member and group leader of CF gene therapy at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine


The UK Cystic Fibrosis Gene Therapy Consortium is a collaboration between Imperial College London and the Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh.

“The Gene Therapy Consortium is excited about beginning what we hope will prove to be a productive partnership with these world class organisations.”


– Dr Gerry McLachlan, Gene Therapy Consortium member and group leader of CF gene therapy at the Roslin Institute.

Related links

Boehringer Ingelheim press release

Oxford BioMedica press release

UK Cystic Fibrosis Gene Therapy Consortium

PharmaTimes story

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