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Dialysis pioneer Invizius raises £2.75m

Dialysis pioneer Invizius raises £2.75m

Edinburgh spinout Invizius, whose innovative technology could save kidney patients’ lives, has raised £2.75 million in a new funding deal.

The EI client has secured funding from a consortium of investors including Mercia Asset Management, whose partnership with the University has been nurtured by EI, and the University’s venture investment fund, Old College Capital, which is managed by EI.

Invizius stems from years of research by Dr Andy Herbert and his team in the University’s School of Chemistry. In May 2018 he co-founded Invizius and became the copmany’s Chief Technology Officer.

“This investment allows us to take a big step towards our goal to bring much needed improvement to the lives of three million dialysis patients and we are delighted to have won the backing of a consortium of smart, well-funded investors.”


– Dr Andy Herbert, co-founder and CTO of Invizius.

Reducing risk

The researchers believe they have found a way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease among patients undergoing long-term dialysis.

Dialysis is a procedure to remove waste products and excess fluid from the blood, when the kidneys have stopped working properly. It commonly involves diverting blood through an external filter to be cleansed of toxins.

The problem is that the patient’s immune system sees the dialysis filter as a foreign body, creating inflammation that damages the cardiovascular system over time.

Invizius has developed H-Guard, which acts as an “invisibility cloak” for the filter, effectively hiding it from the immune system.

The latest investment will support Invizius as it conducts further testing as well as preparing for the next stage including pre-clinical trials.

“This substantial investment reflects the great promise we’ve seen in Invizius from the initial identification of novel science. Old College Capital is pleased to be part of the consortium backing this technology, which holds so much potential for so many people, and Edinburgh Innovations looks forward continuing to support the Invizius team.”


– Dr George Baxter, Chief Executive Officer, Edinburgh Innovations.

Dialysis treatment

Despite improvements in dialysis therapy, cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death for dialysis patients.

Almost half of all dialysis patients die from cardiovascular complications, and life expectancy on dialysis is just one-third of that for the general population.

Invizius’s H-Guard product is a powerful anti-inflammatory used during the normal priming procedure to coat the filter surface. Upon contact with the patient’s blood, it makes the surface seem less foreign to the patient’s immune system.

Unlike some other proposed solutions, H-Guard does not shut down the immune system but instead effectively hides the device from it to prevent an immune response.

There is potential to use the technology with other devices such as heart and lung machines, stents and grafts, or in organ and cell transplants.

Exciting partnership

With EI’s support, the University signed a partnership agreement with Mercia in November 2017, which included hosting Mercia staff on campus and Mercia earmarking funding for investment in opportunities developed by the University.

Mercia made an initial investment in Invizius of £500,000 in April last year. The latest investment consortium includes Downing Ventures, the Scottish Investment Bank and the University’s Old College Capital.

Related links


Mercia Asset Management

EI services for staff

University of Edinburgh news story

School of Chemistry

‘Outstanding Entrepreneurial University’ finalist

‘Outstanding Entrepreneurial University’ finalist

The University of Edinburgh has been shortlisted in the Outstanding Entrepreneurial University category of the Times Higher Education Awards 2019.

Reaching the final of the competition reflects the quality and quantity of support and services provided to the University’s staff and students by Edinburgh Innovations, particularly the Enterprise Services team. It also reflects a high quality submission by the team into the awards.

Embedded culture

The full submission – a summary of which is available on the THE Awards website – highlights EI’s comprehensive services offered across the University and the success in embedding the entrepreneurial attitude throughout the University’s activities and culture.

Highlights of the past year’s enterprise activities:

  • More than 800 one-to-one advisory meetings with entrepreneurial staff and students
  • 47 startups launched, a 27% rise on the previous year
  • £14 million invested in startups 
  • £3.3 million in grants awarded
  • Student social enterprise group Enactus Edinburgh won the national competition and represented the UK at the Enactus World Cup.

Student and staff events

EI continues to build its successful calendar of events for entrepreneurial staff and students, including Business Bootcamps, the UK’s longest-established 3-Day Startup programme, Pitch ‘n’ Mix, Find Your Startup, and the annual Inspire Launch Grow awards.

The THE Awards will be announced in London on 28 November 2019.

Related links

THE Awards shortlist

EI services for staff

EI services for students

‘Financial Technology Partner’ winner

‘Financial Technology Partner’ winner

The University of Edinburgh has been named best Financial Technology Partner at the Scottish Financial Technology Awards, reflecting impactful work by Edinburgh Innovations.

The University beat off stiff competition from corporations, law firms and high profile players in the sector including the Data Lab.

‘Biggest contribution to the industry’

The award was for “the academic institution, government body or supply chain partner making the biggest contribution to the industry, helping drive progress and innovation or addressing challenges or standards”.

Taking the fintech partner title reflects activity by EI, focused in particular on the Edinburgh Futures Institute and the University of Edinburgh Business School. The award submission was drafted by EI Business Development Manager Ksenia Siedlecka, based in the Business School.

EI-supported work that contributed to the award includes:

  • Development of the Fintech Doctoral Programme.
  • The launch and activities of EIT Digital satellite office at the Bayes Centre.
  • The establishment and hosting of FinTech Scotland.
  • The University’s leadership role in the Data-Driven Innovation programme of the Edinburgh and South-East Scotland City Region Deal.
  • The development of the Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence.
  • Fintech AIMday and Fintech Fast Forward events.

The award was presented at a ceremony in Edinburgh to Dr Gbenga Ibikunle, Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Financial Markets at the Business School and Director, Industry Economy and Society at the Edinburgh Futures Institute.

“We are at the start of an exciting period in the implementation of our fintech sector engagement strategy, and for our efforts to be recognised early on is a testament to the dedication of colleagues from all across the University.


“At EFI, we will continue to work with all stakeholders to establish the University of Edinburgh as the leading higher education institute in the delivery of fintech education and research that supports sustainable growth within the industry.”


– Dr Gbenga Ibikunle.

Ingledew wins Evangelist award

The Evangelist of the Year award went to FinTech Scotland Chief Executive Officer Stephen Ingledew. FinTech Scotland was established with EI’s support by the Scottish Government, the University of Edinburgh and the private sector to boost growth in Scotland’s financial technology sector. It is hosted by EI.

The Scottish Financial Technology Awards are organised by technology media and events provider Digit. They are awarded across 12 categories.

Related links

Digit news

SFT Awards

Scottish fintech sector jumps to 100 firms


Student Enterprise Hub an instant hit

Student Enterprise Hub an instant hit

Edinburgh Innovations’ new Student Enterprise Hub has proven a hit with entrepreneurial students and recent graduates.

The Hub, by the entrance to Appleton Tower on Chapel Street, is a space for students to meet and work on their enterprises, as well as a venue for EI to deliver events and services, such as one-to-one business adviser meetings.

Having opened in time for Welcome Week, the Hub has already hosted startup and social enterprise workshops and a “Welcome to Your Student Enterprise Service” event. 

‘Exactly what I need’

MSc Translation Studies student Victoria Velasco arrived in Edinburgh in September and hopes to launch her own translation service at the end of her studies. She attended the Welcome event and found an energetic community of like-minded students.

“I know nothing about business yet, but I’m interested in setting up. What I’ve heard today about workshops and talking to people one-to-one is exactly what I need.


“I think coming here is going to be really useful.


– Translation Studies masters student Victoria Velasco.

‘Incredible space’

Collin Powers is a fourth-year undergraduate studying Business with Enterprise and Innovation and an existing EI client as founder of Ellyra, a startup developing a virtual reality tennis training product.

students inside the Student Enterprise Hub

Already a successful student entrepreneur who recently completed EI’s Startup Summer Accelerator programme, he has been a regular at the Student Enterprise Hub since it opened at the beginning of semester.

“The space itself is incredible – it’s a really interesting combination. I can really focus and get a lot of work done, but I can also just chat to someone across the table. There’s a really great welcoming environment.


“Once I’m finished with my latest software build, I can just ask someone right there to test it and give me their thoughts. It’s been really helpful.”


– Collin Powers, undergraduate student and founder of Ellyra.

Making connections

An important function of the Hub is to serve as a space for students to meet independently, discuss their business ideas, get feedback and even find co-founders. 

Bobby Pembleton, from EI’s Enterprise Services team, says a need met by the Hub is simply physical space “for people to get together and make these connections”.

“On day one we wondered how we would persuade people to come in. On Day two we had so many we were wondering if we might have to triage who comes in here.


“There has been immediate take-up of the space.”


– Bobby Pembleton, Enterprise Officer.

The Student Enterprise Hub will host a busy calendar of workshops throughout semester, including three meetings in October of the newly formed EdinburghPALS, the latest of the University’s Peer Assisted Learning Schemes.

Related links

EI services for students

Student Enterprise Hub

Startups impress investors at Demo Day

Startups impress investors at Demo Day

A dozen student startups that completed Edinburgh Innovations’ 12-week summer accelerator programme have impressed investors at the 2019 Startup Summer Demo Day. 

The businesses and social enterprises pitching to an audience of investors and business leaders ranged from a gluten-free granola manufacturer to a web platform that recruits football talent from Africa for the international market.

Accelerator support

The Demo Day was the culmination of Edinburgh Innovations’ Startup Summer Accelerator, where 12 teams of current students and recent graduates were supported to develop their business ideas.

They received funding and benefited from workshops, business advice, peer-learning and connections to the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Startup Summer is sponsored by Santander Universities, angel investor syndicate Equity Gap, and the University’s Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability.

At a networking session following the pitches, startup founders connected with potential investors, with fruitful discussions reported on both sides. 

“It was a great way to see interesting pitches from a variety of new companies really quickly.


“The event also gave us an opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with those companies that were most relevant to us, and we’re already planning several follow-up meetings.”


– Mark Hogarth, Partner, Techstart Ventures.

New direction

Among the presenters was Karis Gill, co-founder of Social Stories Club, a social enterprise that delivers socially conscious gift boxes complete with the products’ unique stories of social change.

Advice she and her fellow co-founder Aayush Goyal received at the Startup Summer Accelerator radically changed their product and target market.

“When we came into the Startup Accelerator, our target market was consumers, but we couldn’t ignore the amount of business sales we were getting and we were advised to explore this corporate market. We discovered they wanted more high-end hampers, more high end products, and that’s exactly what we’ve created over the course of the Accelerator.


“We’re really excited about the future, because we realise how much more impact we can have. We can work with so many more products, and we can help corporates with their culture of sustainability. It’s as though the parts have slotted into place.”


– Karis Gill, Co-Founder, Social Stories Club.

Impressive progress

The development of the ventures over the 12-week programme was clear to Fraser Lusty, Investment Director at Equity Gap, who saw the full process from assessing applicants to the programme right through to Demo Day. 

“From seeing them at the start, in some cases still quite embryonic, without exception the quality of the pitches on the day and the progress that’s been made in understanding what the proposition is and how they’re going to take that to market is very impressive.


– Fraser Lusty, Investment Director, Equity Gap.

This year was the first that Equity Gap has sponsored the programme, though the investment group has a longstanding relationship with the University and has invested in several spinout companies.

“We know the quality that’s coming out across the University’s various departments,” said Lusty. “We are keen to invest in and grow young talent from leading Scottish universities.”

The guest speaker at Startup Summer Demo Day was Assean Sheikh, CEO of Flavourly, the Edinburgh-based online drinks delivery company that has grown its customer base in five years to nearly 100,000 and has delivered more than 1.5 million drinks to date.


Startup Summer Accelerator alumni 2019

Startup Founders
ACE Maths
Mathematics tuition centre using Chinese maths teaching techniques
Sze Yan Lee
MA International Relations

Best of Bettina

Gluten-free foods

Bettina Hernberg

MA Business with Enterprise and Innovation

Black Goblin Audio

Audio design and post-production

Ana Betancourt

MSc Sound Design


e-commerce assistant that uses natural language processing

Iain Mackie

MSc Data Science


Virtual reality tennis training

Collin Powers

MA Business with Enterprise and Innovation

Ethical Intelligence Associates

Consultancy to help businesses tackle tech ethics

Anna van Oosterzee

MSc Mind, Language and Embodied Cognition

Olivia Gambelin

MSc Philosophy

Inmotion Group MTL

Mobility think lab

David Jaramillo

MSc Entrepreneurship and Innovation


Custom clothing supplier

Ryan Morrison

BSc Biotechnology

Jenny Stevenson

MA Architecture


Web platform recruiting African footballers

Daniel Denis

MSc Energy Finance

Social Stories Club

Socially conscious gift boxes – and stories

Aayush Goyal

MA International Business

Karis Gill

MA Business and Marketing


Human-like skin for robots

Zaki Hussein

PhD Integrative Sensing and Measurement

Laura Garcia-Caberol

MSc Product Design

Viapontica Analytics

AI engineering and strategy consultancy

Vesko Cholakov

MSc Artificial Intelligence

Related links

EI’s enterprise programmes for students

Santander Universities

Equity Gap

Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability



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