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

High-profile backing for wearables startup PlayerData

High-profile backing for wearables startup PlayerData

PlayerData, a startup aiming to become a major player in the global sports wearables market, has secured an early stage investment round from high profile backers including former Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy, founder Mike Welch, who has been appointed PlayerData’s Chairman, and Quest Corporate’s Marcus Noble.

The company was co-founded in 2015 by University of Edinburgh computer science graduates Roy Hotrabhvanon and Hayden Ball, supported by Edinburgh Innovations. Its first product, PlayerData EDGE, which is in its late development stages, combines a base layer garment with sensors and a removable control module. It is aimed at multi-sport professional and amateur athletes.

PlayerData EDGE provides data on biometrics, performance and technique for both individuals and teams. The seed round will allow the company to expand development to a market-ready product by the end of 2018, with high value sports including running, football and golf being targeted.

Sales strategy

Chief Executive Officer Hotrabhvanon, a former international archer who has represented Thailand, and the PlayerData team are planning for the company’s first product to sell through multi-channels business-to-business followed by business-to-consumer. The team are scoping a longer term strategy that could see products developed for other sectors including gaming and healthcare.

Hotrabhvanon said: “With over six biometric performance indicators, we’re already ahead of all competitors in the market. Using the latest advances in artificial intelligence we are developing algorithms to give coaches actionable insight to athlete performances.

“As a team, we’re excited that our global ambitions are being matched by such a dedicated and high-profile group of investors and it’s great to have Mike Welch on board as Chairman.”

Welch said: “Roy and Hayden are inspiring founders with an incredible product that has a real chance to make a significant move into one of the fastest growing tech markets on the planet.”

Support ‘instrumental’

PlayerData received early-stage support from Edinburgh Innovations’ LAUNCH.ed service, as well as the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Hotrabhvanon said: “LAUNCH.ed and Edinburgh Innovations have helped me since the early stages of the idea. Giving the right advice at the right times has been instrumental to our fast growth.”

Multiple industry reports predict that the overall smart wearables market will grow in value to more than $15 billion by 2021.


From left: University archer Fiona Inglis wearing PlayerData EDGE, with Mike Welch, Roy Hotrabhvanon and Hayden Ball. Photograph by Stewart Attwood

Further coverage

The Scotsman

Business Insider

Gene breakthrough promises new medicines and biofuels

Gene breakthrough promises new medicines and biofuels

An Edinburgh Innovations client’s breakthrough using the CRISPR gene-editing technique means vast quantities of medicines and renewable fuels could be produced by algae.

Algae have great potential to produce biofuels, medicine ingredients and livestock feed that does not compete with agricultural products. They can also make environmentally friendly products for the cosmetics, plastics, food and other industries.

A lack of engineering tools has hindered research and industrial use of algae for decades, but researchers led by Dr Attila Molnar have now made a breakthrough using recently developed CRISPR techniques, dramatically improving yields of algae.

Genetic scissors

CRISPR gene editing uses molecules that act like scissors to cut DNA, allowing researchers to add new genes or modify existing ones. Until now, scientists have struggled to develop a technique that works efficiently in algae.

To overcome this, the team added CRISPR molecular scissors and short pieces of DNA directly to algae cells to make precise modifications to the genetic code.

Their new method is more specific and increases efficiency 500-fold compared with previous techniques. The discovery could unleash the potential of the global algae industry, projected to be worth $1.1billion by 2024.

‘Key advance’

Dr Molnar, of the School of Biological Sciences, said: “Our findings mark a key advance in large-scale algal genome engineering. Our technique is applicable to a wide range of species, and could pave the way for the development of designer algae, which has many biotechnology applications.”

The team developed its technique to work in a widely used species of algae – called Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. The method could potentially also be used to engineer crops to increase yields, improve disease resistance or enable plants to thrive in harsh climates.

Funding support

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was funded by Phyconet, a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Network in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy, and the biotech company Scottish Bioenergy.

Edinburgh Innovations facilitated the successful Phyconet funding application and collaboration with Scottish Bioenergy, which is supporting a PhD studentship to validate the opportunities for this technology. EI has also helped with the patenting of novel tools that have come out of this research.

Further coverage

Science Daily

University news story