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First Minister visits two biotech startups

20 Feb 2023

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today visited two University of Edinburgh biotechnology startups to launch a new report into women and entrepreneurship.

Ms Sturgeon was at the University’s Roslin Institute to meet founders of medical technology companies Carcinotech and Cytochroma and launch ‘Pathways: A New Approach for Women in Entrepreneurship’, chaired by entrepreneur and investor Ana Stewart.

Both startups were supported by the University’s commercialisation service, Edinburgh Innovations (EI). Dr Catherine Martin, Vice-Principal of Corporate Services, also contributed to the Stewart review.

Ms Sturgeon met Edinburgh graduate Ishani Malhotra (pictured left), founder and CEO of Carcinotech, and saw a demonstration of their technology which involves 3D printed tumours developed from patient’s biopsies, immune cells and cancer stem cells, providing a platform for rapid, ethical and accurate drug discovery, screening and pre-clinical testing.

Ishani graduated with an MSc in Regenerative Medicine in 2017 and received EI support to develop Carcinotech, as well as seed funding from the EI-managed Data-Driven Entrepreneurship (DDE) programme. She recently completed the DDE AI Accelerator.

Ishani said:

It was brilliant to welcome Nicola Sturgeon to the Roslin Innovation Centre and show her Carcinotech’s technology. I am proud of everything we’ve achieved so far and extremely grateful to the University and Edinburgh Innovations for the support – from business development to funding – that has brought us to a position of being able to advance personalised cancer treatment. ”

The First Minister also met graduate Kate Cameron, whose company Cytochroma, also supported by EI, uses semi-automated technology to manufacture thousands of mini livers simultaneously, made from ethically sourced stem cells, to predict the safety and toxicity of new drugs.

Ms Sturgeon praised both companies' "groundbreaking work in life sciences" during the visit.

Lorna Baird, EI’s Head of Student Enterprise, said:

Our EI vision is to inspire and equip every University of Edinburgh student with enterprise and entrepreneurship knowledge and skills to solve some of the worlds’ biggest challenges. Kate and Ishani are fantastic examples of why we do this work.
We are also proud to have contributed to Ana Stewart’s women in entrepreneurship report, offering our experience in supporting inclusivity in University entrepreneurship, which makes such a vital contribution to Scotland’s innovation ecosystem. ”

Report findings

The report, led by Ana Stewart and co-authored with Mark Logan, chief entrepreneur to the Scottish Government – makes 31 recommendations, including:

  • providing start-up training and support in a range of pop-up locations to help more women, and other primary care givers, access services
  • integrating entrepreneurial education into schools and further education
  • clarifying existing access pathways into entrepreneurship
  • improving access to start-up and growth finance
  • tracking and measuring progress towards full representation in entrepreneurship

Commenting on the report, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

I welcome Ana Stewart and Mark Logan’s work in delivering a powerful review of the barriers facing women in entrepreneurship in Scotland and presenting a compelling set of recommendations aimed at removing them.
The review’s findings are challenging but underline the need to tackle the root-causes, as well as the immediate barriers, of this inequality.
Fully realising the entrepreneurial potential of women in Scotland will not only promote greater equality in our society, it will also deliver significant benefits for the economy.
The Scottish Government will respond quickly to the review as a whole, and its recommendations. ”

Review chair Ana Stewart said:

This review has, through a combination of extensive stakeholder engagement and robust data analysis, revealed that women face many significant barriers to entrepreneurship.
Only one in five businesses in Scotland are female-led, while start-ups founded by women received only 2% of overall investment capital in the last five years. By taking a root cause and effect approach, our recommendations focus on dramatically increasing female participation rates to drive a vibrant and fairer entrepreneurial economy. ”

Main image: L-R Kate Cameron, Nicola Sturgeon, Ana Stewart, Ishani Malhotra

Related links

Read the report on the Scottish Government website

Visit the Carcinotech website

Visit the Cytochroma website