Staff Services Student Enterprise

Scottish Knowledge Exchange finalists 2024

Dr Sofia Ferreira Gonzales of the SensiBile project, who developed a tool to assess the viability of donor livers
14 Feb 2024

The University has four finalists in this year’s Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards, including in the Knowledge Exchange Heroes category.

The Wellcome Institutional Translational Partnership award (ITPA), which has supported over 1000 early career researchers (ECRs) to translate their research into impact, is up for the coveted Knowledge Exchange Heroes award.

The iTPA team, based in Edinburgh Innovations and led by Dr Lysimachos Zografos, has supported over 180 projects with £1.8m in funding. The portfolio has already returned £12.2m in further funding, supported two spinouts (Omecu and EPIC), with three more in the pipeline, and filed 23 patent applications, with five granted so far. Its ECRs are leading collaborations with industry leaders and the NHS.

The team supports a diverse portfolio of human health and wellbeing projects including demand-data driven placement of defibrillators in Scotland; a digital health tool to encourage anti-sedentary behaviour in the workspace; new advanced therapeutics for nervous system disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and a point-of-care tool to assess the viability of liver transplants (SensiBile).

Dr Lysimachos Zografos

Dr Zografos said:

To be a finalist for the Knowledge Exchange Heroes award is a fantastic recognition of the team’s hard work in supporting the hitherto under-served, diverse, and highly innovative demographic of ECRs.
We’re proud to have built a 1000-strong community of researchers supporting each other, as well as leveraging the individual expertise of the team’s members and the wider Edinburgh Innovations’ team to make a lasting cultural shift when it comes to ECRs and translational impact.
The activity of the programme is key in underpinning the delivery of the 2030 Research and Innovation Strategy, both from the perspective of drastically increasing research engagement, as well as providing impactful solutions to major societal challenges .”

Another finalist in the Knowledge Exchange Heroes (individual) category is Dr Marieke Hoeve, of the Institute for Regeneration and Repair for delivering a unique Masters by Research programme in regenerative medicine that offers training and placements in academic and industrial/third sector organisations in order to bring advanced therapies to clinic.

Finalist for the Innovation of the Year Award is student startup Prozymi Biolabs, founded by Dr Ioannis Stasinopoulos, who has a PhD in molecular cell biology. Prozymi Biolabs is using specialist enzymes to improve the texture and flavour of gluten-free bread.

The company has been supported by Edinburgh Innovations, with finance from Old College Capital, the University’s in-house venture investment team, as well as from Scottish Enterprise, Converge Challenge and Scottish Edge.

And finalist for Innovator of the Year is Maria Martinez Castillero, who is Genetics and Breeding Programme Manager of student startup BetaBugs, founded by Thomas Farrugia out of the Roslin Institute. The company breeds black soldier flies as an alternative, sustainable protein source that can be used in aquaculture, pork, and poultry feed.

Dr Susan Bodie, Head of Business Development (BD) for the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, which includes iTPA, said:

The iTPA team is small but mighty – securing a return on investment of a whopping 600 percent! Their agile, entrepreneurial approach for supporting early career researchers is an engine for commercialisation, particularly in health tech.
Along with our Enterprise and BD teams, which have supported Prozymi and BetaBugs as well as many of the iTPA initiatives, and plugging into the wider Scottish ecosystem, we are building a strong innovation pipeline here at the University. ”

The winners will be announced on March 14.

Related links

Visit the iTPA website for Edinburgh staff

Visit the Scottish Knowledge Awards website