New consultancy helps businesses tackle tech ethics

New consultancy helps businesses tackle tech ethics

Two participants in Edinburgh Innovations’ Startup Summer Accelerator programme have launched a consultancy to help businesses navigate the growing ethical challenges of using artificial intelligence and other burgeoning technology.

Ethical Intelligence, launched by philosophy postgraduate students Olivia Gamelin and Anna van Oosterzee, has already worked with the Scottish Government, global investment firm Franklin Templeton and the University of Edinburgh.

“We want to turn the grey of tech ethics into black and white for businesses and other organisations.”

 

– Olivia Gambelin, Co-Founder, Ethical Intelligence.

The two have assembled a team of 15 ethics experts with various specialisms spanning the broad technology field.

They will help clients assess and address the risks surrounding issues such as data privacy and hidden biases when using technology such as artificial intelligence, algorithms and automation.

“We take the internal values of a company, put together specialist research teams and produce outputs such as risk analysis, protocols and project proposals,” says van Oosterzee.

High-profile clients

The pair recently produced a charter on the ethical use of data for a project involving the Scottish Government and the UN children’s charity Unicef concerning childhood obesity.

They have also helped Franklin Templeton on how the investment firm partners with other companies, and are soon to travel to California to help implement their recommendations.

And they have begun a project with the University of Edinburgh on the ethical use of technology to help support students who may be vulnerable to mental health difficulties.

“The data subject, such as the child, student or customer, must be the ultimate beneficiary of our work. We offer a service to our client, but it’s about the human side of the story, about doing tech in the right way.”

 

– Anna van Oosterzee, Co-Founder, Ethical Intelligence.

Gambelin, from the US, and van Oosterzee, from the Netherlands, met during their one-year masters degrees at the University’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences. Gambelin was studying the ethics of AI, and van Oosterzee was studying the philosophy of cognition.

Edinburgh Innovations has helped the pair connect with essential advisers including lawyers and accountants, helped them access funding, and hosted them on the 12-week Summer Startup Accelerator programme. Ethical Intelligence has also been provided office space in the University’s new Bayes Centre on Edinburgh’s Potterrow.

Startup Summer support

Startup Summer is run by Edinburgh Innovations and sponsored by Santander Universities, the University of Edinburgh’s Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability and the angel investor syndicate Equity Gap. Participants receive £3,000 in funding, dedicated workshops and weekly peer learning sessions.

The programme culminates in the Demo Day where the 12 participating teams promote their businesses and ambitions. This year’s Demo Day takes place on 11 September 2019. 

The company has recently appointed three board members: Gary Bernstein, founder of Tech Scotland Advocates; Andrea Bonime-Blanc, founder of GEC Risk Advisory; and Mark Sprevak, Associate Professor in Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh.

Related links

Ethical Intelligence

Register for Startup Summer Demo Day

EI enterprise services for students

Bid to solve widespread cannula failure receives MRC backing

Bid to solve widespread cannula failure receives MRC backing

A multi-disciplinary team of doctors, biomedical engineers and medical device experts has been awarded a six-figure grant from the Medical Research Council’s Confidence in Concept (CiC) scheme to develop a product addressing high failure rates of the world’s most widely used invasive medical device – the intravenous cannula.

IV cannulas are the mainstay of clinical medicine enabling the rapid administration of drugs, fluid or blood products to patients. Cannula failure rates, which can exceed 50%, are primarily caused by inadequate securement. Failures result in delays to potentially lifesaving treatment while consuming clinical time and resources on unnecessary recannulation.

International impact

The joint venture between the University of Edinburgh, NHS Lothian and Heriot-Watt University will seek to address what is a common problem for both UK and international health systems. The project is supported by Edinburgh Innovations and Scottish Health Innovations, which supports innovation across NHS Scotland.

Dr Ashton Barnett-Vanes MBBS PhD, Honorary Clinical Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, NHS Lothian doctor and Principal Investigator on the project, said: “By drawing on the clinical, engineering and commercial strengths of the participating institutions this funding will enable the team to rapidly develop and test a series of prototype devices that could yield significant impact on patient care while reducing hospital spend.”

From science to product

Dr Andrew McBride PhD, Translator in Residence and CiC Manager at the University of Edinburgh, said: “I am delighted that this highly innovative project has secured CiC funding. The interdisciplinary team are proposing a science-based solution which has the potential to positively impact on future patient care and this fits squarely with the MRC CiC mission to drive the translation of scientific research into impactful healthcare products and services.”

Research post

The project is recruiting a research associate in product design and testing to start in autumn 2019.

 

Related links

Research Assistant job advertisement

MRC

NHS Lothian

 
£1m MRC grant to test new treatment for advanced cancer

£1m MRC grant to test new treatment for advanced cancer

Researchers have been awarded funding for a clinical study of a novel approach to treating advanced cancer symptoms that could improve quality of life for patients.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) has awarded the Biomedical Catalyst grant to the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (IGMM) at the University of Edinburgh. This will be supported by a collaboration with XBiotech, a global biosciences company based in Austin, Texas, which is supplying the treatment product.

Edinburgh Innovations supported the University team in development of the project including liaising with XBiotech, project partners and the MRC to fund the study.

£1m award

XBiotech’s treatment – called bermekimab – could help with improving outcomes in cancer, including reducing symptoms such as weight loss and decreased mobility.

Researchers have been awarded almost £1 million from the MRC, part of UK Research and Innovation, to enable the study, which will begin recruiting patients later this year.

Bermekimab works by blocking a molecule of the immune system called IL-1alpha, which causes inflammation and pain. It is already being tested as a treatment for patients with colorectal cancer.The new trial aims to examine if the treatment – a form of immunotherapy – offers any benefit for patients with advanced lung, pancreatic or ovarian cancer.

“Using immunotherapy to target the cause of symptoms in cancer is a new approach. If successful, it has the potential to improve quality of life for people with advanced cancer.”

 

– Dr Barry Laird, Senior Lecturer in Palliative Medicine at the University’s MRC Institute of Genetics & Molecular Medicine.

UK wide

Patients will be recruited to five sites across the UK – Edinburgh Cancer Centre, the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in London.

As cancer advances, it can hijack the immune system causing life-altering physical symptoms for patients. These include loss of appetite and weight loss, muscle loss and fatigue, which have a significant impact on daily life.

The trial has been developed in conjunction with the UK’s National Cancer Research Institute and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Cancer and Nutrition Collaboration.

New hope

President and Chief Executive Officer of XBiotech John Simard welcomed the trial and said the company was eager to provide bermekimab to patients with advanced cancer through supporting this trial.

“Bermekimab is able to target a crucial inflammatory process that enables tumours to grow, spread and disrupt normal organ function to cause harm.”

 

– John Simard, President and Chief Executive Officer of XBiotech.

Dr Steve Wootton, a nutrition expert at the University of Southampton and Deputy Chair of the NIHR Cancer and Nutrition Collaboration, said the study would allow them to test theories about how cancer leads to severe malnutrition and weight loss in many people. He added that it could open up new hope for patients with advancing cancer, allowing them to lead more active lives with their families.

Chair of the National Cancer Research Institute’s Supportive Care Clinical Studies Group Professor Sam H Ahmedzai described the study as a “radical new approach”. He said it could improve patients’ daily living.

Related links

University news

MRC Institute of Genetics & Molecular Medicine

XBiotech

National Cancer Research Institute

The NIHR Cancer and Nutrition Collaboration

Enterprise education in a class of its own

Enterprise education in a class of its own

Midlothian school children have spent a day learning entrepreneurial skills with the help of experts from Edinburgh Innovations.

At the Enterprise Education day at Newbattle High School, 24 pupils in S5 and S6 researched real-world commercial and societal needs, generated ideas for businesses and social enterprises and developed them into Dragons’ Den-type business pitches.

“It’s been fantastic, giving the pupils a feel for the flow of idea generation and entrepreneurship, and exploring the idea of what a social enterprise is.”

 

– Depute Head Teacher Mark Davidson.

From road-building to anti-bullying

Through collaborative workshops, pupils spent the morning researching challenges that could be addressed through a new product or service, arriving at a series of business propositions to develop in groups.

The chosen enterprises included an app to combat bullying, a political news podcast, road construction using recycled plastic, a donations scheme for those affected by war in Yemen, and a cooling facemask to relieve headaches.

“The statistics we discovered when researching our idea have shocked us. The ideas we’ve come up with as a team for the first release of the app have been really good. I’ve never really thought about starting a business, so everything we did today was learning.”

 

– Jack Grieve, S6 student.

‘Young people’s passions’

The groups worked on pitching their businesses, as though facing potential investors, and the day culminated in each group giving its prepared pitch to the rest of the class.

“It’s heartening to hear young people’s passions,” said Mr Davidson. “Every pitch was looking at delivering some sort of social responsibility, or getting young people engaged in political life, or about the health and wellbeing of young people. It’s really good as adults to be in the room and see that positivity from young people.”

Growing relationship

The day was part of a growing relationship between the University and Newbattle High School.

When the school’s new campus was opened in June 2018, it was designated Scotland’s first Digital Centre of Excellence through a partnership between the University and Midlothian Council. The school will work with universities, colleges and businesses to ensure its children are equipped with leading digital skills for the future workplace.

In September last year, the school hosted a data science workshop to launch the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal’s Data-Driven Innovation programme, which is being led by the University.

And a team from the University’s Moray House School of Education has recently hosted a Continuing Professional Development day for the school’s staff, focusing on its role as a Digital Centre of Excellence.

Related links

Digital Centre (University news)

Newbattle High School

Scotland’s fintech community leaps to 100 firms

Scotland’s fintech community leaps to 100 firms

FinTech Scotland has announced there are now more than 100 firms in Scotland focused on reinventing financial services through new technology and data.

The milestone continues growth from the start of 2019, when FinTech Scotland said the number of firms had trebled to 75 over the 12 months since the organisation’s formation in January 2018.

FinTech Scotland was established by the Scottish Government, the University of Edinburgh and the private sector to boost growth in Scotland’s financial technology sector. It is hosted and supported by Edinburgh Innovations.

Growth in the number of fintech firms in Scotland continues to be fuelled by a combination of new enterprises being created, international firms moving to Scotland and existing technology firms developing new fintech propositions.

‘Just the beginning’

The announcement came as the Public Finance and Digital Economy Minister Kate Forbes welcomed some of the newest firms to the fintech community to the Scottish Parliament.

The Minister heard from a diverse range of new enterprises and their entrepreneurs including MoneyMatix, Xpand Access, CU Apps, Zortrex, and Women’s Coin.

Amiqus, the recent winner at EIE19, the showcase event for Scottish firms looking for investment, joined the group to share how it is building on its initial growth. At this year’s EIE, fintech firms were the largest sector represented.

“Scotland has the fundamental strengths to be globally recognised as a centre of fintech excellence. Our economy is open and competitive, we have a highly skilled workforce, a great quality of life and an attractive cost base compared to other financial centres.

 

“Working with FinTech Scotland and its partners, we have seen real growth in the sector in Scotland, and I am pleased to celebrate the milestone of our first 100 fintech companies. This is just the beginning, and I am confident that we will see continued growth.”

 

– Kate Forbes MSP, Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy.

Fintech Festival

FinTech Scotland also announced that Scotland’s International Fintech Festival will take place over three weeks between 9 and 27 September, following the success of last year’s community-led Festival.

The Festival will take place at more than 50 events across the breadth of the country, including seven Scottish cities, with guests from across the globe.

“We continue to be focused on supporting the dynamic and expanding fintech community across Scotland and it is encouraging to see the number of enterprises grow with the support of key partners, universities and the Scottish Government.

 

“Scotland’s fintech community is continuing to attract growing interest from international investors as well as the established financial services sector who recognise the significant value in collaborating with creative forward-thinking enterprises.”

 

– Stephen Ingledew, Chief Executive, FinTech Scotland.

Fintech companies in Scotland, June 2019

Actelligent

Adviser Direct

Agenor Iceflo

Agrud

Albafx

Almis International

Allatus Unity

Amiqus

Appii.io

Asura

AutoRek

Avaloq

Avrium

Bankpal

Beagle Finance

Bifrost Wealth

Blockchain Scotland

Blockchain Technology Partners

Blocklstar

Broadridge

Broker Insights

Butterwire

CardSwitcher

CargoConX

Castlight Financial

Chartered Accountables

Clearwater Analytics

Comcarde (Bridge)

CU Apps

CU Soar

Cyborn

Eedenbull

Encompass

Fexco

Financial Could

Float

FNZ

FreeAgent

Get Aio

Giftround

Gigly

Growth Street

Guiide

Gyphto

Hatch AI

Hubsolv Limited

Inbest

Ingenico

Insureapps

Isle of Skye Blockchain

iZettle

KAL (Korala Associates Limited)

Lending Crowd

Lifeium

Lightbox Rewards

Listings Ledger

Marktomarket

Miconex

Modulr

Money Dashboard

MoneyCorp

MoneyMatix

Monily

Mosaic Software

Nexves

Nucleus Financial

Nude

Ocyan

Orca

Origo

Pay Wizard

PaymentCentric

Paysend

Phoebus Software

Previse

Proactis

Qpal

Qwallets

Rambus

RenovITe

Sagecity

ScotCoin

SecureTheFile

Septillion

ShareIn

Sinergi Management Limited

Symphonic Software

SK Chase

Sonik Pocket

Squarebook

Sustainably

The ID Co

TIndeCo

Trade In Space

Visible Capital

Wallet.Services (Scotland)

WomensCoin

XpandAccess

Yakara

Zonal Retail Data Systems

Zonefox

Zortrex

 

 

Related links

www.fintechscotland.com

FinTech Scotland announces Chairman

Initiative targets fintech growth

Streetwear marketplace Bump raises $7.5 million

Streetwear marketplace Bump raises $7.5 million

Bump, the online streetwear marketplace that aims to become “the Amazon for Gen Z”, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding.

The funding was led by high profile California-based investors e.ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Y Combinator “and a few close angels”.

Student support

Bump, launched with the support of Edinburgh Innovations’ LAUNCH.ed service for student entrepreneurs, has nearly 2 million registered users, many of them teenagers. Having begun as a “reverse marketplace”, Bump’s mission today is to “help Gen Z shop with their friends online”.

Co-founders Sam Howarth and Jack Ryder, who became friends when they were at school together in Newcastle, created Bump after encountering frustrations when buying and selling streetwear on existing platforms.

Ryder built the app in 2016 after teaching himself to code, and the two worked closely with the online streetwear community to tailor their platform to meet users’ needs.

They were supported by LAUNCH.ed when Howarth was studying Business Management at the University of Edinburgh. The app launched in August 2017.

Bump was a joint winner of the Enterprise Award in EI’s 2017 Inspire Launch Grow awards, and Howarth and Ryder were on the judging panel for the 2018 awards.

Y Combinator accelerator

In March 2018 the Bump founders completed the prestigious Y Combinator accelerator programme in Silicon Valley, whose alumni include AirBnB and Dropbox.

They received three months of intensive support to develop their business before pitching to high-profile investors at the end of the programme. They received backing from investors including Kleiner Perkins, the Menlo Park-based firm that has previously invested in the likes of Google, Amazon and Twitter.

Social shopping

Howarth and Ryder say users prefer Bump over other streetwear marketplaces because of its social features, such as messaging and follower relationships – which make shopping a shared social experience.

“Our mission is to make all commerce social,” writes Ryder in a recent blog. “To do that, we see bump becoming the Amazon for Gen Z where you can shop for anything and you don’t have to do it alone. To get there we’re up for the challenge of turning shopping into a multiplayered experience.”

Related links

Bump

Bump news

LAUNCH.ed