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)


AIMday hits the target for industry and academics

AIMday hits the target for industry and academics

Industry leaders and academics have hailed AIMday Manufacturing a great success after they came together to tackle business challenges and build partnerships.

AIMday Manufacturing matched 14 representatives of 10 companies with 22 academics. During a series of one-hour workshops, questions posed in advance by the companies were addressed by researchers with expertise in the issues put forward.

The event is one of a series of AIMdays (Academic Industry Meeting days) being hosted by Edinburgh Innovations at the University of Edinburgh.

“I’m delighted – it was an excellent use of eight hours of my week,” said Joe Doogan, Director, Nuclear, at the engineering services giant Babcock International.

There were representatives of large and small companies spanning the broad manufacturing arena, from food and drink to heavy engineering. Challenges put forward included questions about 3D printing in steel and starch blends in gluten-free baking.

Partnerships pipeline

Between the sessions, there was a palpable buzz surrounding the potential to create formal partnerships between the University and industry that could address companies’ needs.

“We have several significant business-critical technical issues that – if we get the alchemy right – the university will be able to support,” said Babcock’s Doogan. “As we build upon our world class manufacturing capability, there are several areas of areas of mutual benefit.”

Mariella Barra, Senior Technology Platform Technologist at Premier Foods, said: “The format worked really well. We had time to initiate the questions, then go through them with the academics. We now have a pile of suggestions and ideas that we need to think about.”

From feasibility to funding

Dr Matthew Reeves, of the Edinburgh Complex Fluids Partnership, said: “The questions are really relevant to the science we do, and the different academics have different angles to offer. It’s an opportunity to see where your fundamental science can be applied in a real-world context.”

Dr Reeves said a variety of lasting partnerships between industry and the University can arise from such meetings. “Usually we would start with a small scale feasibility study, then if something comes of that we can develop a proposal for a bigger project, and go to funding sources to cover costs. We might place research students with a company, or arrange secondments.”

Edinburgh Innovations will host AIMday Data on 15 March, and subsequent AIMdays are planned in 2018 in the areas of complex fluids, energy and digital manufacturing. AIMday is an international franchise established by Uppsala University in Sweden in 2008.

Photograph: Callum Bennetts/Maverick Photo Agency

Related links

AIMday Data


Initiative targets fintech growth

Initiative targets fintech growth

Edinburgh Innovations has played a key role in the creation of FinTech Scotland, a new body to boost growth in Scotland’s financial technology sector.

FinTech Scotland aims to promote sustainable economic growth through innovation, collaboration and inclusion. The partnership involves the Scottish Government, the private sector and the University of Edinburgh.

Chief Executive appointed

Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, announced the appointment of Stephen Ingledew as FinTech Scotland’s Chief Executive Officer on 11 January 2018. Ingledew, who has previously worked for Standard Life and is a non-executive director of Marketing Edinburgh, is an influential advocate of making financial services more open and creative. He and his team will initially be hosted by Edinburgh Innovations.

Wheelhouse said: “I warmly welcome Stephen Ingledew’s appointment as Chief Executive Officer, as this is a very significant milestone in the establishment of FinTech Scotland. Stephen will play a crucial role in cementing Scotland’s position as a world-leader in FinTech, building on our established strengths in both financial services and technology.”

Dr George Baxter, Chief Executive Officer of Edinburgh Innovations, said: “I’m delighted by Stephen’s appointment. We’re proud to play a role in the establishment of FinTech Scotland as we pursue the University of Edinburgh’s ongoing strategic commitment to the delivery of skills and talent in this sector.”

Driving growth

A focus for the FinTech Scotland team will be to bring together drivers for the sector to grow. These include the ideas of entrepreneurs and innovators, the resources of the financial sector and the economic and social objectives of the public sector. It will also draw on the innovation environment of accelerators and incubators as well as research and development from the University of Edinburgh and the other Scottish universities.

The work of FinTech Scotland will be closely aligned with the University’s Edinburgh Futures Institute and the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, both of which have a focus on developing the fintech sector.

Funding will include contributions from the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, the University of Edinburgh, and private sector companies.


FinTech Scotland CEO Stephen Ingledew, left, with Business, Innovation and Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP.

Related links

BBC news

Business Insider



Skoogmusic on song with £560,000 fundraising

Skoogmusic on song with £560,000 fundraising

Skoogmusic, which makes an interactive cube to help children learn about and play music, has completed its largest funding round to date, with £560,000 secured from Scottish Investment Bank, Old College Capital, and a number of private investors.

The inventors of the Skoog, which is already sold in Apple stores worldwide, will use the investment to fund an international sales and marketing drive following deals with two new global distribution partners: Tech Data in Europe and Ingram Micro in the US. The new investment means that Skoogmusic has raised a total of £2 million to date.

As the company scales up its operation, company co-founder Dr Benjaman Schögler will step into the role of CEO, with tech industry stalwart Andy Gordon established as Chairman. One of the round’s investors, seasoned private equity investor Paul Murray, will join the company as a Non-Executive Director.

Exciting step

Dr Schögler said: “This is another hugely exciting step for Skoog. The investment enables us to work with Apple and partners like Ingram Micro and TechData to reach more children in more countries around the world. It’s not what you play that’s important but it is crucial that you do play. And this investment means more play and more music for everyone.”

The business, which was spun out of the University of Edinburgh in 2009 with the help of Edinburgh Innovations, plans to extend the Skoog product family, developing and launching new entry level hardware in 2018 so that more people can access Skoogmusic technology. The company will continue to develop its apps across coding, sampling and creative music making, translating them into eight languages for international markets.

Andrea Young, Fund Manager at Old College Capital, said: “We are very proud to support the ongoing global success of Skoogmusic, a business that was founded and nurtured in its early days right here at the University of Edinburgh. We wish the team and their pioneering product every success for this exciting next phase of the journey.”

Apple sales

Skoog currently retails in Apple stores as part of the tech giant’s innovative education programmes. This includes the multi-sensory Apple Field Trips – creative learning workshops hosted for teachers and students in stores around the world; and the pioneering Apple Distinguished Educators, who showcase how technology can transform education to global audiences.

Skoog is also one of the devices connected to Apple’s educational coding app Swift Playgrounds, offering an exciting way to learn to code using robots, drones and Skoog.

The business has also been successful on the pioneering tech crowdfunding site Indiegogo, where it raised more than £50,000 in presales for Skoog 2.0.

Kerry Sharp, director of the Scottish Investment Bank added: “It’s great to see the Skoog product being sold internationally and being recognised as a truly innovative musical instrument. This is a key sector for the Scottish economy and we look forward to helping the company achieve its growth ambitions.”

Related links


The Herald



Business Insider