Staff Services Student Enterprise

Edinburgh celebrates top spot for student startups at Inspire, Launch, Grow

inspire, Launch, Grow finalists 2024
07 Jun 2024

As Edinburgh celebrates its student entrepreneurs with the annual Inspire, Launch, Grow awards, new stats show the University tops the Russell Group for number of student startups.

The awards included a new £10k prize for Emerging Female Entrepreneur, won by Kamila Malysz, whose company Excellio Labs is using stem cell-derived exosomes – tiny messengers in the body – for drug delivery.

For the third year in a row, Edinburgh Innovations (EI) has supported over 100 student startups, with a record-breaking 115 student companies founded in the last academic year, 2022/23.

Having maintained the highest number of student startups in Scotland for some time, the University is now the leading entrepreneurial university in the Russell Group of ‘world-class, research-intensive’ universities including Oxford and Cambridge, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

At the Inspire Launch Grow – the ‘Oscars of Entrepreneurship’ – awards, University Principal and Vice Chancellor, Professor Sir Peter Mathieson, presented the Moving Mountains Creative Enterprise award to social enterprise James Grossman Studio, which is tackling loneliness through artistic community interventions.

Professor Sir Peter Mathieson said:

We are proud to support a thriving culture of entrepreneurship at the University of Edinburgh, where enterprise is increasingly part of the student experience. Our innovative student companies are tackling some of the biggest challenges the world faces today, in areas such as: climate and environment; future health and care; and data, digital and AI for good. Their drive, creativity and initiative are an inspiration to us all. ”

Dr Andrea Taylor, interim CEO of EI, presented the new award for Emerging Female Entrepreneur to Roslin Institute PhD student Kamila Malysz. Dr Taylor said:

Although fifty per cent of student founders in the current academic year are women, the external environment remains challenging. Twenty per cent of all businesses launched in the UK in 2022 were female-led, however, the investment going into all female-founded companies has only marginally increased by 0.3% in 2023*.
Given the work still to be done in this space, we wanted to offer extra support for our female founders, alongside our existing programme, Power Her Up.
Excellio Labs is a fantastic, innovative company at the forefront of health technology, founded by Kamila Malysz and Kasia Maj. They join a cohort of graduate founders like Ishani Malhotra, who is now expanding her med tech company Carcinotech into the US with recent investment of £4.2m, including from Old College Capital, the University’s in-house venture investment team. We will continue to support our founders on their innovation journey. ”
Emerging Female Entrepreneur Kamila Malysz

Kamila Malysz said:

Transitioning from academic research to entrepreneurship, I’ve engaged in business accelerators, forged collaborations, and secured grants to develop our exosome-based drug delivery platform.
I am excited to see how advancements in medicine will change the world and am determined to play a role in shaping that future.
I am honoured to have received this award and I hope my journey will encourage other female scientists to pursue entrepreneurship and make an impact in the world. ”

During Inspire, Launch Grow, founders pitch their company to an expert panel of judges, competing for total prize money of £47,000. Keynote speaker and winner of the Entrepreneur of the Year Award was Elena Höge, founder of social gaming company Yaldi Games.

Other award winners included School of Engineering student Solomun White (Inspire – Emerging Innovation Award), whose company Seasat uses satellite images to monitor ocean health.

Laura Higham of the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems, Royal Dick, won the Launch-Impact Award for Vet Sustain – a not-for-profit to enable vets to drive change for a sustainable future.

School of Informatics student Elijah Hoole won the Grow- Growth Innovation Award for RoadGauge, which leverages road inspection technologies to more sustainably and efficiently manage issues like potholes.

And Tracy Ahumuza of the University of Edinburgh Business School won the Moving Mountains’ Best Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Initiative for ATTA Breastmilk Community, which supports breastmilk donation to frail, newborn babies.

Winners of Inspire, Launch and Grow and the new Emerging Female Entrepreneur Award won £10,000 each. Moving Mountains winners won £1,000 each and the other entrants all received £500. All benefit from continued enterprise support from Edinburgh Innovations and partners.

*Stats from Rose Review and Beauhurst