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Six Edinburgh Innovations businesses ‘Unlocking Ambition’

Six Edinburgh Innovations businesses ‘Unlocking Ambition’

Six exceptional young entrepreneurs supported by Edinburgh Innovations have gained entrance to the prestigious Unlocking Ambition programme.

Alison Wood of Dream Pads Ltd, Ishani Malhotra of Carcinotech Ltd, Hamish Geddes of Lenz Ltd, Zaki Hussein of Touchlab Ltd, Ali Monjezi of Waterwhelm Ltd and Alex McVey of OGI Bio Ltd are among 40 business founders on the Scottish Government-supported programme.

Sustainability credentials

All six University of Edinburgh innovators secured places in part due to their environmentally friendly focus as well as their companies’ ability to meet the economic challenges Scotland faces as a result of Covid 19.

For example Dream Pads, created by Alison Wood, produces tailored and environmentally friendly sanitary products for women, which also help girls in Kenya stay in education.

Touchlab, the brainchild of Zaki Hussein, is developing an electronic skin to give robots a human-like sense of touch and recently won the £100,000 Higgs EDGE award for science, technology and engineering businesses.

Brand mentors

The new entrants to the programme will be able to learn from the experiences of highly accomplished brand leaders and explore new avenues for their products. Previous contributors include high-level professionals from LinkedIn, Apple and Netflix as well as successful GlobalScots.

The admission to this opportunity also includes a £25,000 development grant plus business advice, mentoring and in-kind support.

Due to Covid-19 the programme will be delivered entirely virtually, meaning that no one will be excluded from this opportunity.

Previous alumni from the course have an impressive track record for the new entrants to live up to – the organisers state that entrepreneurs participating in the first Unlocking Ambition programme have together raised over £10m in business investment, created 146 jobs and generated £3.2m in new turnover as a direct result of participation.

“Massive congratulations to all the entrepreneurs on this course who truly deserve this opportunity to build further on their success.


“Growing the innovation ecosystem in this way, providing tangible support for entrepreneurs and innovators, is vital for Scotland’s economic future.


“The admission of six of our clients to this programme highlights the sheer breadth of talent and expertise that is available to us at Edinburgh Innovations.”


Dr George Baxter, CEO, Edinburgh Innovations.

Related links

EI services for staff

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Unlocking Ambition


Edinburgh startup secures UK space funds to support students

Edinburgh startup secures UK space funds to support students

Earth Blox has been awarded a share of £1.3m from the UK Space Agency

University of Edinburgh start-up Earth Blox has been awarded a share of £1.3m from the UK Space Agency, to support students and help them navigate the disruption to their education caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This financial support is the latest accolade for Dr Genevieve Patenaude, who recently won the prestigious Converge Challenge and an Edge award for Earth Blox.

Dr Patenaude, Senior Lecturer at the School of Geosciences, has been working with and supported by Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service, since January 2019.

The ‘Earth Blox for Education’ project

Earth Blox makes planetary-scale data analysis easy, and enables insights into the world and how it’s changing.

The ‘Earth Blox for Education’ project, led by Professor Iain Woodhouse, at the University of Edinburgh and Dr. Patenaude at Earth Blox, is backed by the UK Space Agency and will support students taking Earth Observation courses –  our next generation of climate change specialists, weather forecasters and digital pioneers.

Earth Blox will use its application to help remotely train the next group of Earth Observation (EO) specialists during the crisis while universities are unable to run computing classes in person. The application will support students at four participating universities: Leeds, Glasgow, Edinburgh and the Open University, providing remote access to vast quantities of satellite data.

Over time the product will also be exportable, increasing the uptake of Earth Observation and remote sensing in other parts of the world.

Dr Genevieve Patenaude said:

“I am thrilled to receive this support from the UK Space Agency and to be part of such a timely and important project.

“Helping students continue their education despite the restrictions and unpredictability of the Covid pandemic will be extremely rewarding.”

Dr George Baxter, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Innovations said:

 “This is another well deserved accolade for Genevieve and Earth Blox.

“Earth Blox is a fantastic example of the kind of real world solutions Edinburgh Innovations facilitates.

“The depth of the talent and intellectual resource in Edinburgh is breath-taking and we are extremely proud of the part we play in making these exciting ideas a reality.”

The projects – set to receive £1.3m of funding – have been selected as part of a joint initiative between the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency (ESA) which has already provided one round of funding in July, worth £1.1 million, to companies developing space based solutions for issues created by COVID-19.

Initial funding went to three initiatives, including a drones company delivering test kits in Scotland and a project that uses space data to support vulnerable people through a mobile application.

Related Links

Earth Blox

EI services for students

UK Space Agency 

Scottish EDGE

Edinburgh entrepreneurs dominate prestigious Converge awards

Edinburgh entrepreneurs dominate prestigious Converge awards

An Edinburgh researcher and a recent graduate have taken top prizes in Converge, the prestigious entrepreneurial programme for Scottish Universities and Research Institutes.

Dr Genevieve Patenaude, Senior Lecturer at the School of Geosciences, won the awards’ biggest prize, the Converge Challenge, for her startup, Earth Blox.

Elena Höge, recent graduate in Design and Digital Media at Edinburgh College of Art, took the second-biggest prize of the 2020 competition, the Creative Challenge, with her startup Yaldi Games.

Both winners are Edinburgh Innovations clients, bringing to 16 the tally of EI clients who have won awards over the 10 years since Converge launched, including three main Converge Challenge winners.

Satellite data access

Earth Blox aims to provide access to planetary-scale satellite intelligence without the need for specialist software or expertise. Applications include the better understanding of the global impact of deforestation and large-scale disasters, and the teaching of Earth-observation skills without the need for coding or lab software.

Users of Earth Blox, which is cloud based, include the UN Environment Programme as well as numerous universities wishing to conduct planetary-scale analyses with ease.

As the winner of the main Converge Challenge, Dr Patenaude receives £50,000 in funding and £21,000 in in-kind business support.

First Minister address

This year’s Converge final was hosted from Doha, Qatar, by Scottish journalist and broadcaster Halla Mohieddeen, with a keynote address by Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

“Winning the Converge Challenge will allow us to fast track our vision of democratising planetary scale satellite intelligence, so it becomes accessible to a whole suite of organisations dealing with humanitarian and disaster relief, and to universities for online Earth-observation learning.”


– Dr Genevieve Patenaude, winner, Converge Challenge 2020.

EI support

Dr Patenaude has been an EI client since January 2019, receiving guidance from its business advisers and a Virtual Board, and support with several successful funding applications.

She gained a Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellowship in May 2019, which funded her to develop her venture and was hosted by Edinburgh Innovations.

“Edinburgh Innovations has been wonderfully helpful in creating connections, making introductions to the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Scotland, generating awareness of funding routes for bringing innovative ideas to market, and providing countless opportunities for learning from experts in entrepreneurship.”


– Dr Genevieve Patenaude.

Educational game

Elena Höge.

Höge’s startup, Yaldi Games, aims to become a leading educational game developer with social and cultural impact, with a mission to create meaningful entertainment. Its first title, Wholesome, will inspire interest in nature and teach skills such as foraging and healthy cooking.

By winning the Creative Challenge, Ms Höge receives £20,000 in funding and £21,000 as in-kind support.

Höge recently completed Edinburgh Innovations’ 12-week Startup Summer Accelerator programme.

“Yaldi’s mission is to create meaningful entertainment that merges fun and learning.


“The funding and business support from Converge couldn’t have come at a better time, as we are currently building a fully featured prototype and starting to look for a publisher to bring it to market.”


– Elena Höge, Founder, Yaldi Games.

Third top-prize winner

The 2020 awards were the 10th since Converge Challenge’s launch, and in those 10 years clients of EI and its predecessor organisations have taken the top prize three times, previous winners being Photon Force 2015 in and Carbogenics in 2018.

In total, across the awards’ main Converge Challenge and its Impact, Creative and Kickstart categories, the University has had 16 winners and multiple runners-up over the past decade.

“Congratulations to Genevieve and Elena, Edinburgh’s latest worthy Converge winners.


“We’re proud to help our inspiring staff, student and recent graduates turn their ideas and entrepreneurism into products and services with real-world impact.”


– Dr George Baxter, CEO, Edinburgh Innovations.

Related links


Earth Blox

Yaldi Games

EI services for staff

EI services for students


Grain robot startup Crover competes on world stage

Grain robot startup Crover competes on world stage

Agritech company Crover has reached the final stages of one of the world’s most prestigious startup competitions.

The Edinburgh Innovations client was one of 20 companies chosen from 400 applicants around the world to compete in Startup Battlefield, the biggest global competition of its kind and a career-defining springboard for new companies. Startup Battlefield alumni include Fitbit, Dropbox and Yammer.

The contest is organised by online publisher Techcrunch, and takes place during its annual tech conference Disrupt, which draws more than 10,000 founders, investors, developers and technologists from all over the globe.

Silo swimmer

Crover has developed the world’s first robotic device able to swim through granular media. The company is aiming its revolutionary technology at the global grain storage market, which currently loses between 20% and 50% of post-harvest grains through spoilage and infestation.

The Crover robot can provide accurate data on grain conditions and monitor every inch of a grain silo, information that is otherwise impossible to gather.

First for Scotland

Crover is the first Scottish company to take part in Startup Battlefield and only the second to be selected from the UK in the competition’s 10-year history.

Crover was founded by Dr Lorenzo Conti when he was studying at Edinburgh for his PhD at the School of Engineering.

“Getting to the final is a great validation. They really understood what we are doing and why we are unique.”


– Dr Lorenzo Conti, founder and Managing Director, Crover.

Techcrunch training

Crover received two weeks of intensive pitch and demonstration coaching from Techcrunch editors as part of the finalist package ahead of the competition’s heats.

Founders were then given six minutes to pitch and demo their startups to a panel of judges comprising venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and Techcrunch editors.

EI ‘best supporter’

Dr Conti began his startup journey with an approach to Edinburgh Innovations after discovering during his PhD that there was a way of moving devices through granular media.

EI helped Dr Conti conduct market research to identify the best application for the technology, then helped him develop and launch the company, providing in-house expertise and access to funding support, and financial and legal associates.

He has taken part in EI’s Startup Summer Accelerator and has been hosted by EI as a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellow. He has won multiple awards including prizes in Converge Challenge, Scottish EDGE and Shell Livewire.

“EI has been our best supporter from the start.”


Dr Lorenzo Conti.

Exposure to investors

Startup Battlefield 2020 was won by Canix. The company has built a robust enterprise resource planning platform designed to reduce the time it takes cannabis growers to input data. The software is designed to reduce labour costs, handle costing, reporting and monitor current inventory. It also includes forecasting features. 

The winner takes home $100,000, but the real prize is the exposure that all 20 finalists receive from global media, investors and big tech players scouting for promising startups.

To date, Battlefield’s 900 previous competitors have raised a collective $9 billion in investments.

While Disrupt usually takes place in San Francisco, this year’s event was moved online in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Related links


Startup Battlefield

EI services for students

Edinburgh among global universities targeting Covid recovery

Edinburgh among global universities targeting Covid recovery

Edinburgh Innovations is representing the University of Edinburgh at a meeting of 10 leading universities from the UK, US and EU and international decision-makers to harness research and commercialisation to support the post-Covid economic recovery.

Dr George Baxter, CEO of Edinburgh Innovations, is joined by counterparts from institutions including MIT, Stanford, Cambridge and Oxford at the inaugural event of TenU, a recently established transatlantic research commercialisation collaboration, funded by Research England.

Talks with decision-makers

The commercialisation leaders will discuss with officials from governments and funding bodies how best to translate public investment in research into new products, businesses and jobs.

In addition to best practice discussions, the TenU event will review current government and national policy hot topics, including the US bipartisan bill “Endless Frontier Act” and the UK Government’s R&D Roadmap, which addresses research and innovation support and policy.

“Following the recent establishment of TenU, it’s good to be speaking as a group with those who can help us maximise the impact from research.


“Universities have been at the heart of tackling the Covid-19 crisis, and we can also be at the heart of helping the economic recovery.”


– Dr George Baxter, Chief Executive Officer, Edinburgh Innovations.

Leading speakers

Speakers at today’s event include Walter Copan, the US Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology who is also the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology; David Goldston, MIT’s Washington DC Office Director, and David Sweeney, Executive Chair of Research England.

Leaders of the technology transfer offices (TTOs) of all the TenU universities will be present: the universities of Cambridge (UK), Columbia (USA), Edinburgh (UK), Imperial College London (UK), Leuven (Belgium), Manchester (UK), MIT (USA), Oxford (UK), Stanford (USA), and University College London (UK).

“It is even more important now to work together to tackle the challenges of economic recovery, and to learn from each other on both policy and practice.


“TenU has already created good transatlantic relationships with university TTOs and policy makers, and I know we can call on US experts, as they can call on us. I look forward to continuing this collaborative working partnership to address these challenges together.”


– David Sweeney, Executive Chair, Research England.

Global impact

The commercialisation and technology transfer offices of universities work with academic researchers to develop their ideas, technologies and inventions into opportunities for industry and investors to benefit economies and societies at a global scale.

Researchers and tech transfer teams of the TenU universities have been at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19.

Covid fight

Since the early stages of the pandemic, several TenU members have supported the quick design and production of breathing devices for Covid patients, advanced some of the most widely used rapid testing devices, and have led vaccine development.

The University of Edinburgh has nearly 100 research projects under way relating to Covid-19 in collaboration with external organisations. The projects range from medicine and manufacturing to wellbeing and financial resilience.

Related links

TenU launch news

EI services for staff