Edinburgh Innovations has launched its new Strategic Partnerships team and Innovation Engines partnerships concept.
Innovation Engines will power new international strategic partnerships across sectors where University of Edinburgh expertise is set to make significant impact over the coming five-to-ten years.
At the “Accelerate with Edinburgh Innovations” launch event, Dr Andrea Taylor, EI’s Head of Strategic Partnerships, outlined EI’s partnership ambitions and introduced the Innovation Engines concept to an international audience of more than 150, spanning commercial businesses, the public sector, investors, entrepreneurs and fellow higher education institutions.
Industries represented included aerospace, agriculture, automotive, food, computing, engineering, finance, fintech, housing, legal, medical, pharmaceutical, renewable energy, robotics, transport and waste.
Dr Taylor, who was appointed Head of Major Projects in summer 2021 and has renamed her team to reflect its new vision, said:
I’m delighted to be firing the starting gun on our ambitious international programme. We want to develop strong international partnerships that have the capability of powering engines of innovation, with a focus on asset generation that from the outset can drive new IP and new solutions to deliver impact.
The event also introduced EI’s three new Senior International Industry Advisers, based in North America and Asia, who will help EI seek new international partnerships and strengthen existing ones.
Dr Bruce Conway, based in New York City, is Director of the Robertson Therapeutic Development Fund at Rockefeller University and has extensive experience as a senior pharmaceutical and investment executive.
Colin Foster, also based in New York City, is CEO of life sciences advisory firm iSci Management and has 30 years’ experience of leading life sciences businesses, including as North America CEO of pharmaceuticals giant Bayer.
Dr Andrew Powell, based in Singapore, is CEO of Asia BioBusiness, a consultancy that works with both the public sector and private sector, including governments and multinational agricultural input and food ingredient companies.
Asked what makes Edinburgh stand out, Mr Foster (pictured) said:
If you’re a top 16 university in the world and number one on several fronts, that in itself differentiates the University of Edinburgh from just about everyone else.
But setting that aside, the team here – Andrea’s and George’s team – are stellar individuals, with great resumes who have played both sides of the fence, in industry and academia. And so with our combined experience, I’d like to think we have the right to say we’re pretty darned good at what we do.
Dr Conway said what stood out for him about EI’s approach was the proactive determination to commercialise University work for mutual benefit. He said:
Most investors in the audience will say it’s difficult to get technologies out of universities in a way that’s fair to everyone. Edinburgh wants to get things out: you don’t want to own everything, you want to work with the partner to make it beneficial to everyone, and I think that’s a big differentiator.
Dr Powell said opportunities for Edinburgh to form partnerships in Asia were particularly exciting, saying:
The expertise in Edinburgh is excellent in areas that really excite me and are really relevant for my part of the world. Some of the things Edinburgh is doing in agtech, foodtech, fintech and biomedical research are really applicable to the challenges we’re facing in the region.
Later in the first quarter of 2022 EI will host a follow-up event targeted specifically at the Asia market.