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AI Accelerator open for second-round applications

AI Accelerator open for second-round applications

The University of Edinburgh’s AI Accelerator is opening its doors once again to find 12 data-driven AI scale-ups looking to change the world.

The programme is designed to accelerate the best AI start-ups in the UK, Europe and beyond to scale globally within a short timeframe and aims to attract disruptive scale-ups that apply AI with high-growth potential while helping them grow into world-leading companies. The University of Edinburgh is home to the largest centres for computing science and informatics in Europe.

The AI Accelerator will be delivered both digitally and in-person by Edinburgh Innovations and the Bayes Centre, the University’s world-leading innovation hub for data science and artificial intelligence, on behalf of all the DDI hubs. The AI Accelerator is also supported by Edinburgh-based strategic design consultancy Nile.

The deadline for applications is 8 August 2021 and the programme will run for six months from 22 September to 18 March 2022.

The cohort taking part in the current AI Accelerator programme comprises 15 companies with high growth potential, each of which is addressing a global challenge, many responding to urgent needs in the health and climate change domains.

Scale Space partnership

Scale Space’s partnership with the University will provide start-up businesses on the Accelerator programme with access to the wide range of expertise, mentoring and knowledge at Scale Space, to help them grow faster and stronger. Scale Space is backed by Blenheim Chalcot, the UK’s leading digital venture builder, and has partnered with Imperial College London to launch the first physical site in White City, London.

Companies on the current programme include BioLiberty, designers of an AI-powered robotic glove that strengthens the user’s grip, Neeuro, which utilises Brain-Computer Interface technology to help ADHD children improve their attention span, and Reath, which enables companies to find compliant and scalable solutions for reusing single use items that have been sent to landfill.

Charlotte Waugh, Enterprise and Innovation Programme Lead, Edinburgh Innovations, said:

“We are delighted to be able to offer this fantastic opportunity to global data driven AI scale-ups, and to be partnering once again with Scale Space and Nile to build on the success of previous AI Accelerator programmes. Our USP is providing entrepreneurs with support on commercial skills at the same time as enabling them to tap into the University of Edinburgh’s world leading academic knowledge, data sets, talent and supercomputing facilities.

 

“The Bayes Centre, supported by Edinburgh Innovations, is at the heart of delivering this unique cross-hub collaboration ensuring cutting edge AI tech is at the heart of  these market led, real world solutions and providing specialist input, connections and investor networks that scale businesses quickly and successfully.”

Mark Sanders, Executive Chairman, Scale Space, and Entrepreneur-in-Residence, said:

I am so very proud to be Entrepreneur-in-Residence for the University of Edinburgh AI Accelerator for a second time and I can’t wait to meet the new cohort. Great things happen when you bring together academic excellence with business-building expertise, and the support provided by this programme is ideal for ambitious scaling businesses. In just a few months, the previous cohort made incredible progress in all areas of their business, developing clearer product propositions, sustainable commercial models and growth strategies.

 

“I wish that group the best of luck and I especially look forward to being able to welcome the new group to attend sessions at Scale Space in White City, which will help build their connections to Imperial College and the London market.

Jim Ashe, Director of Innovation, Bayes Centre, College of Science and Engineering, said:

The AI Accelerator provides an opportunity for data driven AI start-ups to grow and scale their businesses, in a dynamic environment – enabling connections with investors, mentors and their peers. The cohort will have access to the invaluable resources that the Bayes Centre provides.”

The AI Accelerator is financed by the Scottish Funding Council through the Data Driven Innovation (DDI) programme.

Related links

Applications

Scale Space

Nile

Bayes Centre

 

 

 

Collaborative research in predictive biomarkers

Collaborative research in predictive biomarkers

A new collaboration between clinician-scientists at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Inflammation Research and pioneering biotechnology company Genentech is bringing its combined expertise to bear on discovering predictive biomarkers for chronic liver disease progression.

Liver disease is on the rise. The British Liver Trust reports that since 1970 the number of deaths caused by liver disease in the UK has increased by 400%. Despite this alarming escalation, there is currently no way of predicting, from a clinical perspective, which patients will go on to develop complications or deteriorate at a faster rate. To improve patients’ prognosis, it is vital that predictive biomarkers are discovered to inform clinicians of their patient’s likely course and empower them to act before a patient deteriorates.

Collaboration

An informal chat at a conference between clinician-scientist Dr Prakash Ramachandran and a Genentech scientist quickly developed into a collaboration when the two parties discovered their shared ambition of improving the risk stratification of patients with chronic liver disease (cirrhosis).

Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, is a founder of the biotechnology industry, using the power of genetic engineering and advanced technologies to develop medicines for people with serious and life-threatening diseases. In its quest to predict cirrhosis progression, the company needs access to blood, plasma and other samples from a cohort of 100 carefully selected early-stage cirrhosis patients. The thriving scientific-clinical interface at the University of Edinburgh’s Medical School means that the research team of clinician-scientists, Dr Ramachandran and his co-investigator Professor Jonathan Fallowfield, have the depth of clinical experience required to identify the ideal participants for the study; the clinical network that will facilitate access to these patients and their anonymised data; and the scientific expertise to conduct detailed phenotypic analysis on the clinical samples before they are sent on to Genentech for further testing. The research team’s work will be aided by the University’s suite of world-class facilities, such as flow and genomic cytometry and the single-cell analysis facilities within the Centre for Regenerative Medicine.

Safe hands

When initial discussions between Dr Ramachandran and Genentech scientist Thiru Ramalingam indicated that a genuine collaboration was possible, the research team knew who to call on for advice and support. Both research partners have worked with Edinburgh Innovations’ Business Development Manager Susan Bodie on previous projects and they trusted her expertise. As the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, Susan was able to offer reassurance and shepherd both the industry and academic partners through the legal and logistical complexities at a time of unprecedented upheaval, helping with everything from the initial proposal and costings through to negotiating the collaboration agreement and finalising the project’s finer details.

Predicting Success

As the world moves back into gear the research team at the University of Edinburgh is ready. They will first hire the clinical research fellow who will be a key player in the project’s progress, before beginning the meticulous selection process for their cohort. An exciting three-year collaboration now begins, and a means of protecting patients from the ravages of progressed liver cirrhosis is on the horizon.

 

Related Links

Discover more about the University of Edinburgh’s therapeutic discovery capability at Bench to Bedside — Edinburgh Innovations

Bench to bedside: from targets to treatments

Bench to bedside: from targets to treatments

The University of Edinburgh’s Professor Neil Henderson is leading research – in collaboration with two major pharmaceutical companies – to develop therapies that improve prognosis for people living with liver disease.

Drawn by his reputation, publication record and specialised areas of research, two major pharmaceutical companies approached the University of Edinburgh’s Professor Neil Henderson, Chair of Tissue Repair and Regeneration, to lead several research projects. These projects would identify better targets for liver disease therapies, and positively impact the health and livelihoods of people diagnosed with liver disease.

Developing therapies for liver disease

Both pharmaceutical companies are looking to find therapeutic, rather than surgical, treatments for liver diseases. Each beginning in early 2020, the first collaboration looks at using single-cell approaches to examine the prevalent liver diseases, Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC), and the second project focuses solely on NASH, for which there are no effective treatments.

The projects intend to identify relevant and novel anti-fibrotic targets and develop medications to stop, or even reverse, liver scarring. Achieving this would mean that clinicians could arrest, and potentially even reverse, liver disease before it becomes end-stage – greatly increasing the quality of life and lifespan of patients living with liver disease.

Two, true research and industry collaborations

These industry collaborations are a natural fit for Professor Henderson. They resonate with his own academic expertise and research ambitions. Both pharmaceutical companies are very pleased with progress, Neil’s team has maintained momentum and continued to meet milestones despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

The support from both companies is invaluable to the research, progress and development – enabling Neil’s team to double in size to 20, and establishing Neil as a leading expert in this area. These companies are also very keen to embrace technology, which, in such a fast moving industry and field, means Neil and his team are able to quickly integrate new technologies and optimise the outcomes of their research.

Pushing science forward from all sides

The research team, industry partners and Edinburgh Innovations (EI) are working hand in hand to push the science forward from all sides. EI have supported these projects from their inception – from negotiating and securing the agreements of over $2 million each, liaising with the industry partners and legal teams, and ensuring the research team has what they need to deliver the project.

Promising discoveries

So far, the research teams have seen several successes. Not only have they identified new subtypes of scar-forming cells in human liver disease, but they have also built up rich datasets to underpin these findings.

There will also be joint publications arising from each collaboration, further helping to raise the profile of this impactful and cutting-edge work within the liver community, and crucially, will form the foundation for future research projects that will benefit people living with liver disease across the world.

“Edinburgh Innovations’ support has been fundamental to the success of these collaborative projects with major pharmaceutical companies. They have been an excellent source of advice and support throughout this process, and have played a major part in helping set up these large scale collaborations with industrial partners.”

Professor Neil Henderson, University of Edinburgh

Related Links

Discover more about the University of Edinburgh’s therapeutic discovery capability at Bench to Bedside — Edinburgh Innovations