Agricultural tech, seafood waste management and children’s healthcare companies took home the top prizes in this year’s Startup Summer Accelerator Demo Day, where 14 student startups pitched to a judging panel, following three months of intensive training to become investor-ready.
This year’s cohort were chosen for the ways they support the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, as Edinburgh Innovations partnered with the Edinburgh Earth Initiative to deliver the Summer Accelerator programme.
Overall Demo Day winner was agricultural technology company Raygonal, led by founder and PhD graduate Dr Aliyu Dala (Electrical and Electronics Engineering, 2022), who won an additional £1000 on top of the £3000 each company receives as part of the programme. Raygonal deploys deep tech to tackle food production in some of the poorest regions on the planet and is currently piloting an aquaculture system in Nigeria.
Picture L- R: Dr Aliyu Dala, Edinburgh Innovations' Sarah Gibbens and Karis Gill
Dr Dala said: “Before I got involved with Edinburgh Innovations in 2018, I was mainly a technical person. EI has enabled me to build the business and development side of my invention, which I took as seriously as my underwater wireless sensor PhD! I have been very happy within the Edinburgh ecosystem, and this prize money will enable Raygonal to fine tune our current product – a ‘magic box’ for water management in fish hatcheries. Ultimately, we hope to transform aquaculture and agriculture in Africa and elsewhere through humane, sustainable methods.”
Judges Mary Jane Bowers of Mint Ventures, Alison Grieve of Young Company Finance and Professor Jamie Cross, director of the Edinburgh Earth Initiative also awarded a runner up prize of £500 to circular seafood waste management company CrustaTec, founded by Masters graduate María Isabel Amorín (Materials Chemistry, 2021).
CrustaTec uses the polymer chitosan, found in shrimp shells and a by-product of the shrimp industry, to produce a recirculation filter for textiles wastewater treatment and a natural conditioner for general wastewater treatment.
Judge Alison Grieve said:
I was extremely impressed by the standard of the entire cohort. Raygonal and CrustaTec exemplify well-run businesses tackling real-world problems with solutions that have the potential to have a profound impact on our future world. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and heartening afternoon! ”
The Entrepreneurial Spirit award was won by Lizzie Smith (pictured above), founder of Gradatim, which creates children’s picture books to assist parents, caregivers and health professionals deliver healthcare and illness-related news to children under five. Designed with health professionals, the books provide children with clear and understandable explanations of medical conditions or procedures that affect them or their loved ones.
Dr John Lonsdale, Head of Enterprise at Edinburgh Innovations, said:
This is our fifth year of running the Startup Summer Accelerator and it felt fitting to have a focus on sustainability and climate solutions this year.
It’s an honour and a pleasure to help get these impressive startups ready for investment, so that they can take their ideas out into the world where they can make a difference. ”
The 2023 Startup Summer Accelerator was sponsored by the Edinburgh Earth Initiative, Mastercard Foundation and Santander Universities.