Annual of research and commercialisation at the University of Edinburgh ∫ issue 10 ∫ 2010-11 pagereview identifier
THEUNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY THE EDINBURGH of ofEDINBURGH
Experts on call Consultants boost business success
make it work Five ways to commercialise great ideas
Go with the flow Harnessingthe power ofwater andwind 1
04 Perspective 05 News
08 Fruitful relationships 10 Bark up the right tree 12 Big leap
14 Taking off 16 Facing their future 18 High value 19 Destiny calling
Find out how building a relationship with the University paid off for one company Page 12
Students tap into their enterprising spirit with University help Page 16
Low carbon innovation 20 Green revolution 22 Making waves 25 Carbon co-operative 26 Winds of change
28 Ones to watch
Working with us
30 Surging forward 32 Working together 33 Click through
Low carbon innovations are transforming the world Page 20
Discover how Edinburgh Research and Innovation helps turn ideas into reality Page 30
Consulting the experts
34 Aiming for future success 36 Organic growth 37 Fabric of life
Appliance of science 38 Another dimension
Success in numbers 40 Bright ideas
This issue of Infinite has been designed and produced by Connect Communications for Edinburgh Research and Innovation at the University of Edinburgh. For more information on Connect Communications, visit www.connectcommunications.co.uk
The University uses its cutting-edge expertise to help a bow-making company Page 34
Editor: Alex Proudfoot. Photography: Unless specified, photography is ÂŠ Peter Tuffy, The University of Edinburgh. All rights reserved. Printing: Thomson Colour Printers.
A collaboration shows a successful appliance of science Page 38
Infinite is printed on Claro Silk paper stock. It is made using elemental chlorine-free pulp, is manufactured according to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards, and is produced at a mill certified by the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme. The wood fibres used are FSC certified and the stock is fully recyclable.
Susan Deacon, Chairman, ScottishPower Renewables
‘The University’s academics and researchers have made a tremendous impact’ In our globalised world, individuals, organisations and countries need to adapt, innovate and collaborate to meet the challenges and exploit the opportunities that lie ahead. Scotland’s Universities have long punched above their weight on the world stage – generating leading-edge thinking and research and producing people and inventions that have changed the world. But while innovation might begin with a great idea, invention or scientific breakthrough, it must not end there. Knowledge needs to be unlocked – translated, shared and applied. More than ever, we need people to communicate and collaborate across boundaries and disciplines. The links between academia, business and industry are the key. Here, it is imperative that there is a constant flow of dialogue to ensure the needs of society go hand in hand with scientific and technological innovation. The commercialisation of research is about much more than wealth creation – vital though that is. It is about ensuring that the benefits of innovation can enrich all of our lives. An idea that stays confined to the pages of a journal article or an invention that languishes in the laboratory must not become a missed opportunity. So it is in all our interests to make sure that knowledge is exploited rapidly and effectively. Over the years, the University of Edinburgh has been at the forefront of this interchange between research, innovation and entrepreneurship. In so many spheres, the University’s academics and researchers have made a tremendous impact.
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This has not happened by accident – it has taken effort, investment and leadership. Edinburgh Research and Innovation is an exemplar of how this can be achieved. It has developed the infrastructure and practical support to enable inspired researchers to transform their ideas into game-changing technology and successful businesses, and has helped foster a culture of enterprise. I am delighted to introduce this issue of Infinite, which continues to showcase the most recent transformative projects and products emerging from research and innovation at the University of Edinburgh. This includes innovation in DNA analysis, as well as outstanding work with companies to tackle major viral disease affecting the salmon industry and improve production processes in manufacturing cancer drugs and biocomposite materials. So, too, can we see how research and industry collaboration is working to reduce carbon emissions and harness renewable energy sources, thus helping to secure a greener energy future. Steve Jobs of Apple said: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” The University of Edinburgh has more than proved it is a leader – and long may that continue.
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Edinburgh Research and Innovation Limited The University of Edinburgh 1 Roxburgh Street, Edinburgh EH8 9TA United Kingdom Tel: +44 (0)131 650 9090 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.research.innovation.ed.ac.uk
Derek Waddell, Chief Executive Officer, Edinburgh Research and Innovation Limited
‘We will continue to build on our success’ The past year has been extremely challenging for the global economy, so our excellent achievements in research and innovation are a great credit to staff within Edinburgh Research and Innovation and the University. Our company formation activities have again delivered a very strong performance, reflecting the tremendous entrepreneurial spirit that exists within the University. We strongly encourage entrepreneurship among students and University staff, and our skilled and experienced company formation team provide class-leading support to University staff and student companies. This is exemplified in our Accelerator Pipeline initiative, which was created to support entrepreneurial postgraduate students who have developed their own intellectual property. This is already showing great promise with one company in particular, Speech Graphics, having made its mark by being awarded the 2011 John Logie Baird Award for Innovation. The University of Edinburgh is continuing to deliver effective innovation programmes for companies – from Scottish SMEs to large multinational organisations – and we have developed a number of mechanisms to support business and industry. These are highlighted in the stories featured in this year’s issue. We often work with companies on smaller-scale research and consultancy projects. However, we also take a longerterm view through our various mechanisms
focused on building relationships with companies, which often lead to bigger, more strategic research and development collaborations that help our partners increase their market penetration. A key attraction for new companies who wish to work with us, is the extensive breadth of research experience and expertise across the University in key technology areas that will be crucial to the growth in the economy, such as life sciences, renewable energy, communications and ICT. Our feature on low carbon innovation highlights the University’s leading role in renewable energy developments over nearly four decades – from the invention of the groundbreaking ‘Edinburgh Duck’ wave energy technology by Professor Stephen Salter, through to the recent spin-out of NGenTec to commercialise a revolutionary generator system for large renewable energy wind turbines. We also feature the world’s first multidirectional wave and current testing facility being built at our main Science campus. This facility will be capable of simulating any desired combination of current and wave conditions around all the UK and the majority of key European coastlines. In the next 12 months, Edinburgh Research and Innovation will continue to build on our success, and work on new and effective mechanisms to increase our productive working relationships with partners across all sectors.
Turn to page 20 to find out how the University’s research is helping society cut down the carbon in the atmosphere by developing leading energy and carbon capture technologies
Images © FIA Institute
In the fast lane: Drivers will get the opportunity to experience track racing in Austria and Germany, off-track training in France and educational work in Edinburgh. The pioneering course will also school the young drivers in skills they will need off the track in the business of motorsport, such as sponsorship, marketing, media, career management, teamwork and more
On the fast track Motorsport stars of the future are being put through their paces at the University of Edinburgh under a Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) education programme. Following on from work with the Pirelli Star Driver initiative in the 2009 and 2010 World Rally Championships, Hugh Richards and Dr Tony Turner from the University’s Institute of Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences are again working with ESP Scotland Ltd to deliver a programme of sports science education for talented young drivers. Now extended across all motorsport disciplines, a new initiative called the FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy is providing promising young drivers with
A groundbreaking project has been extended to shape the racing drivers of the future across all motorsports
the skills and know-how they need to compete at the highest level. Former World Rally Champion Robert Reid and two-time Le Mans winner Alex Wurz are working with University staff to instruct 12 rising stars from six continents in an intensive year-long programme. It focuses on all aspects of performance, including driving skills, safety awareness, sports psychology, diet, fitness and
conditioning. Drivers also learn about teamwork, career management, event sponsorship, marketing, media and race planning. Sports psychologist Hugh Richards, who is also an Academy tutor, said: “The University has been involved with programmes designed to improve the performance of young rally drivers since 2005, but this is broadening our involvement to track racing. “This year’s programme is more intensive, combining educational workshops at Edinburgh with track-based and off-track training in Europe. This is an exciting project for young drivers with outstanding potential to learn from our team’s unique blend of world-class expertise and experience.”
Pfizer backs animal health innovation A collaboration sees the launch of the biggest project of its kind in Europe for veterinary research A new animal health partnership, one of the largest for veterinary research and education in Europe, has been established at the Roslin Institute. It aims to find better ways of preventing and managing disease, and advancing sustainable animal agriculture and welfare. The EBRC Pfizer Partnership Platform is a new collaboration established in Scotland between Pfizer Animal Health and the Easter Bush Research Consortium (EBRC). Pfizer has a longstanding relationship supporting the research and educational efforts of the Easter Bush Research Consortium, which comprises the Roslin Institute, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Moredun Research Institute and Scottish Agricultural College. This long-term interaction has received
a further boost this year with Pfizer agreeing a five-year platform to fund a wide range of programmes that will be of mutual interest and benefit. The EBRC Pfizer Partnership Platform will aim to accelerate innovation in the animal health sector. This will include supporting early stage research, technologies and capability platforms, as well as promoting multi-disciplinary research teams, with contributions from different participating organisations. This initiative is the first of its kind in the animal health sector. The projects will cover all the major food production and companion animal species and include vaccines, immunology, infectious diseases, parasitology, proteomics, genetics, genomics, antigenomics, target identification, clinical models and comparative translational medicine. Dr Theo Kanellos, Associate Director of Global Alliances at Pfizer Animal Health, said: “Roslin’s long contribution to science, and its visionary and forward thinking management, were qualities that attracted us to working closer with this very innovative institute.”
Professor Bird’s award-winning work has already been licensed by two companies
The Roslin Institute will be the home of a new veternary research and education project
Part of the processor University helps tackle one of the greatest computing challenges of the next decade Researchers in the University’s School of Informatics are working with the world’s leading supplier of semiconductor intellectual property to tackle one of the greatest computing challenges of the next decade. Computer technology is becoming increasingly more powerful through the use of more than one processor (ie multi-core computing). These multi-core solutions can already be found in today’s computers and mobile devices. However, the software running multi-core devices has not developed as rapidly, which means this extra power is not used efficiently. With future products demanding higher levels of performance, this problem will only become more acute. To address this issue, ARM Ltd has established a research partnership with the School of Informatics, to create faster, more efficient software for multi-core devices that will improve how computers can maximise their processing capacity.
Find out more about the recent work of the Roslin Institute in helping significantly improve salmon breeding performance for one company. Turn to page 12
Prestigious praise for researcher Cutting-edge work lands Professor Adrian Bird an international award A University of Edinburgh researcher, whose innovations in DNA methylation have been licensed to several life science reagent companies, has been recognised with the prestigious 2011 Canada Gairdner International Award. Professor Adrian Bird, of the University’s School of Biological Sciences, was given the international award in recognition of his pioneering discoveries on DNA methylation, a crucial biological signalling module in the mammalian genome, and its role in gene expression. Professor Bird said: “Methyl groups can serve as chemical punctuation marks, indicating which genes should be turned on or turned off in particular cells and tissues of the body – regulating key processes in the normal development of an organism.
The BlackBerry PlayBook is one device that uses a Dual Core ARM processor
Image © research in motion limited
The new ARM Centre of Excellence will use Edinburgh’s world-class computer science and artificial intelligence expertise in the area of software for multi-core computing. It will focus on developing innovative compiler and runtime approaches that can adapt to architectural evolution – providing low-energy, high performance computing. Mike O’Boyle, Director of the University’s Institute for Computing Systems Architecture, said: “Working with ARM, to investigate new ways of delivering highly optimised large-scale systems that are energy efficient, is a unique opportunity for us, with truly massive potential.” Peter Hutton, Vice President of Technology & Systems at ARM, said: “ARM is delighted to be working closely with such a world-renowned centre of excellence in energy-efficient programming. “As consumers demand an increasingly connected life, the complexity of the multicore semiconductor technology will only increase. Research to maximise processing capacity and energy efficiency is an important focus area.”
When they are incorrectly placed or misread they can cause disease.” The technology developed within the Bird laboratory assists scientists to dissect and understand these methylation signals, by enabling them to purify and separate the key DNA molecules involved, based on their affinity for proteins that recognise these methyl groups. Life sciences companies can use this technology to generate reagents that simplify the purification and isolation of methylated and unmethylated DNA from cells and tissues making it easier to study. Two such companies have licensed this technology and incorporated it within user-friendly kits that can be used by researchers working in this field. The awards were established by the Gairdner Foundation in 1957 to recognise and reward the achievements of medical researchers whose work contributes significantly to improving the quality of human life. Such is its impact that around a quarter of its recipients have subsequently gone on to win a Nobel Prize.
Fruitful relationships Wendy Nicholson, Head of Business Development, Edinburgh Research and Innovation, on how partnerships breed innovation The Greek philosopher Aristotle is quoted as saying: â€œWishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruitâ€?. While he may not have been thinking of university industry engagement when he came up with that, it applies none the less. The UK and Scottish governments have been very clear in their direction that UK higher education institutes should work more closely with UK industry partners to help innovate and bring the country back to prosperity. They have both taken steps to help facilitate this
with initiatives to help smooth the interaction. However, if we believe Aristotle, then we know that building truly innovative and strategic relationships will take time and needs long-term investment from all parties. The University of Edinburgh has been working with industry for decades and has been actively engaged in commercial activities for more than 40 years. In that time, we have re-shaped our teams and refocused our efforts to an ever-changing commercial environment.
That innovative process within Edinburgh Research and Innovation (ERI) is what helps us stay at the forefront of commercialisation. In the past ten years, we identified a desire to see a change in our interactions with industry, so we rethought our approach to engaging with industry and started on a long-term strategy to build relationships around research excellence, something the University of Edinburgh has in abundance. The first step was to embed business development staff in schools and colleges alongside the academic research base. Integrating the staff in this way has built far stronger relationships with the academic researchers and helped develop a stronger culture and awareness of the benefits of working with industry. The next key step was to restructure the business development team to have a clear strategic focus on company relations. This, combined with the closer relations with the research base, has allowed us to develop stronger, longer-term partnerships with companies in Scotland, the UK and all around the world. We aim to understand our partners â€“ to work with them to better understand their business needs, ambitions and their goals. That way, we can provide for their needs.
case study TaconicArtemis and University build a close connection over time
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ERI has developed numerous business relationships with industry over the last few years, which are now growing into mutually beneficial partnerships for our researchers, the University and the companies. Working closely with industry partners allows our world-class researchers to deliver innovative solutions so that we are working together towards a better world for us all. Or, as Aristotle might say if he was here today, we are starting to ripen some very tasty fruit!
“The University of Edinburgh has been working with industry for decades and has been actively engaged in commercial activities for more than 40 years”
The University has had a long relationship with TaconicArtemis GmbH, which is now bearing fruit for both parties. The parent company, Taconic is US-based and was started as a family-owned business in 1952 with its headquarters in Hudson, New York. The current business culture could be said to be based on those family values as they understand and nurture the importance of their business relationships. ERI’s initial contact with TaconicArtemis was the result of a chance meeting at BioDundee’s biopartnering networking event in 2004. TaconicArtemis was meeting with a Scottish biotechnology company to discuss possible collaborative work when Wendy Nicholson was introduced to Paul Rounding, the Head of Business Development. Although the early discussions between the University and Taconic didn’t lead to any immediate deals, the University has maintained regular contact with TaconicArtemis and, over time, numerous opportunities for positive interactions have developed. This has allowed the parties to get to know each other, to understand each other’s needs and motivations and, as a result, have helped build the foundations of the strong business partnership they enjoy today. A snapshot of Taconic’s activities in Edinburgh since then clearly shows how the initial conversations that started seven years ago have evolved into a stronger more strategic relationship.
Find out how one project – to improve the production of life-saving drugs – demonstrates the power of companies working in partnership with the University. Turn overleaf to page 10
In February 2010, TaconicArtemis opened its first Scottish-based research facility, based within University premises in Edinburgh. With the close proximity of the company, it has been easy to meet regularly to build on our understanding of their business needs – as well as their understanding of the University’s drivers. As a result, Taconic Scotland is now in advanced discussions with key personnel at the University to develop synergistic provision of drug development and disease model services to the research base. Taconic personnel from around the world have participated in delivering stimulating scientific seminars on campus and we have even helped recruit new staff into the Edinburgh facility. And, earlier this year, Taconic signed its first licence deal with the University for an innovative genomic replacement technology that came out of the University’s School of Biological Sciences. According to Dr Paul Rounding, Senior VP and General Manager at Taconic: “From the first stages of Taconic and TaconicArtemis’ links with Scotland, the excellence of Scottish medical research was obvious. It has been a clear objective of ours to collaborate with Universities in a mutually beneficial fashion. “Our relationship with ERI, based upon key principles of mutual respect and trust, is an important element in building business with Scotland and licensing technologies for commercialisation worldwide.”
Revolutionary research into tree cells by the University on behalf of a South Korean corporation is set to improve the production of life-saving drugs
Bark up the right tree South Korean biotechnology company Unhwa Corporation is extending its successful collaboration with the University to use systems biology approaches to understand how plant cells synthesise particular compounds – with particular focus on enhancing production of the cancer drug paclitaxel (Taxol) from yew tree cells. A diverse range of commercially important products are derived from plants, including medicines, pigments, insecticides and anti-microbials. However, establishing effective methods to extract these products from whole plants in a reproducible and cost-effective way is difficult and, as many of these products are chemically complex, synthesis can often be problematic and expensive. Culturing plant much more reliable and economic source cells on an industrial scale brings further of plant-derived products. challenges, due to instabilities of the cell Unhwa wanted scientific proof to populations, poor growth rates and large confirm that the methods they had variations in yield. developed to isolate the plant stem cells Unhwa has addressed this issue by definitely worked. developing a platform technology to isolate In other words, that the cells they were and culture a particular sub-population isolating had the signature characteristics of plant cells – known as cambial and features of a plant stem cell. meristematic cells (CMCs) in the laboratory The first plant type the company chose and then harvest the desired products from to focus on was the yew tree – the bark the media in which they are growing. of which is the source of the anti-cancer These cells were thought to be a type of drug paclitaxel (Taxol). For that challenge, plant stem cell, which meant they should they needed the plant science expertise be immortal and capable of being that a university such as cultured indefinitely. Edinburgh has to offer. If they did have these In 2006, after a unique properties, On the small screen conference meeting they should be a
Unhwa’s work, resulting from its research collaboration with the University on plant stem cells, was featured in a documentary on the Discovery Channel in 2011.
Work to test methods of extracting the plant equivalent of stem cells has focused initially on the yew tree (pictured left). These cells were successfully isolated and used to produce the cancer drug paclitaxel, thanks to the work of Professor Gary Loake (pictured above right)
with Professor Gary Loake from the University’s School of Biological Sciences, Unhwa agreed to sponsor a PhD student in Professor Loake’s research lab in the Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences, under the BBSRC CASE studentship programme. This initial collaboration gave Unhwa access to expertise and equipment for high-throughput DNA sequencing, gene expression profiling and metabolic pathway analysis, as well as the computational expertise required to interpret and analyse the data that these techniques generate. The research programme used a number of sophisticated DNA and RNA sequencing methods to analyse the genome of the plant stem cells, as well as biochemical and cell biological analysis. As a result,
Professor Loake’s lab was able to generate a fingerprint of the genes and proteins being expressed by these cells, which confirmed their stem cell credentials. The team had proven that the method did indeed isolate genuine plant stem cells from yew trees and that these could be grown in routine culture to produce paclitaxel. This information allowed the company to confirm and validate its methods – proving that the techniques it had developed did lead to the consistent isolation of plant stem cells that could be readily grown in culture in a reproducible manner. Dr Young-Woo Jin, CEO of Unhwa Corporation, said: “The BBSRC CASE studentship programme helped us to initiate a research collaboration with the University of Edinburgh, enabling us to study cambial meristematic cells at the molecular level. “We anticipate that substantial information acquired through this research will promote continuous student recruitment through the BBSRC CASE studentship programme and expand our collaboration effort.” Professor Loake said: “That initial interaction between industry and the University via a sponsored studentship
A venture has spun out of the University that is developing a faster and more accurate diagnostic test for illnesses such as cancer. Read all about it on page 19
can be an ideal way to access expertise, techniques and state-of-the-art equipment which might not otherwise be available to an emerging biotech company. These relatively small-scale projects can deliver high-quality results that can seed further innovative research programmes.” Under an expanded collaboration deal signed in June 2011, this successful partnership is now being extended until 2016. This will characterise these stem cell cultures further to understand the pathways that control the biosynthesis of paclitaxel, so that they can be optimised and manipulated to produce even more paclitaxel in a more efficient and environmentally sustainable way.
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big leap Salmon breeding performance for one company has vastly improved with help from the University’s Roslin Institute
Dr Ross Houston is investigating Atlantic salmon’s resistance to infectious diseases
“The experiments required to achieve these results would not have been possible without both industry and academic resources”
Image © norrie russell, roslin institute
A relationship that began eight years ago, between the University’s Roslin Institute and a salmon breeding company, has developed into a strategic partnership that has enabled the company to sustainably improve the health, welfare and performance in their modern selective breeding of farmed salmon. Landcatch Natural Selection Ltd (LNS) is a Scottish international salmon breeding company that supplies genetically improved Atlantic salmon stock (through selective breeding) to farmers in the form of eggs or smolts (young fish). They currently produce up to 60 million salmon eggs per year. In June 2011, LNS was purchased by Hendrix Genetics, an international multi-species breeding company, to further develop the genetics of salmon and other species used in commercial aquaculture. One of LNS’s major challenges has been in generating Atlantic salmon that are resistant to Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis (IPN). IPN is a viral disease that can cause mortality to young salmon during specific windows of both the freshwater and seawater stages of their lifecycle. One severe outbreak can wipe out up to 80 per cent of salmon stocks on a farm. Due to the fact that the farmers were experiencing major mortality events from IPN, the goal for LNS was to provide stock with demonstrable resistance to the disease. An additional challenge was to develop a predictive genetic marker test for IPN resistance which could be applied
to select the most resistant stock. The use of genetic marker tests had not previously been applied in aquaculture. In 2003, the company engaged Professors Steve Bishop and John Woolliams at the Roslin Institute to supervise an industrial studentship to examine whether the resistance or susceptibility of salmon to IPN is under genetic control. Since then, the relationship between the company and the University’s Roslin Institute has developed into a long-term partnership that has taken in two collaborative research and development grants funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and a Knowledge Transfer Partnership. Other collaborators have
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included the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling, and the GenePool within the Institute of Evolutionary Biology at Edinburgh. This research led to the development of genetic marker tests for IPN resistance that have been applied by LNS under an exclusive licence agreement. These tests have enabled LNS to improve its own breeding programme by more accurately predicting the innate resistance of the fish and breeding from those that are most resistant. Dr Ross Houston at the Roslin Institute said: “We have mapped a major locus affecting IPN survival and have used the latest DNA sequencing technology to develop new single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers that can predict the resistance status of the fish. These markers are used in aquaculture as genetic tests to reduce mortality
and morbidity due to the disease. The experiments required to achieve these results would not have been possible without both industry and academic resources.” The benefits to the company from working with the University have been substantial. As an SME, LNS did not have the resources to undertake the large-scale experimental projects required to develop this genetic marker technology for IPN resistance. This partnership with the Roslin Institute has provided LNS with access to Roslin’s invaluable research expertise in quantitative and molecular genetics, as well as knowledge in the application of these new technologies to animal breeding. As a result, use of the genetic tests developed in the collaboration with the Institute has contributed to an estimated 30 per cent reduction in IPN mortality per generation (every four years) in stock coming from the LNS salmon breeding programme.
The Scottish farmed salmon is Scotland’s largest food export. It is worth more than £1 billion to the Scottish economy.
In economic terms, the increased egg and smolt sales, as a result of demonstrable IPN resistance of the stock, have been of substantial direct benefit to the company. Furthermore, improvement in animal welfare and the overall sustainability of the aquaculture industry in the UK have resulted from the reduced impact of a deadly infectious disease. In November 2010, Dr Houston received a BBSRC Fellowship to continue the University’s work with LNS, investigating factors underlying the genetic resistance of Atlantic salmon to infectious disease. LNS also received funding in March 2011 via the Technology Strategy Board/ BBSRC Genomes UK: Exploiting the Potential of High-Throughput Sequencing funding competition to further develop the high-density salmon SNP chip, which would be a key tool for improving the competitiveness and sustainability of the UK salmon farming industry. This latest research with Edinburgh is in collaboration with the Universities of Stirling and Glasgow and world-leading microarray supplier, Affymetrix Ltd. Dr Alan Tinch, Breeding Programme Director at Landcatch Natural Selection Ltd, said: “Collaboration between researchers at Roslin Institute and geneticists in LNS has led to the transfer of leading-edge genetic technology to the aquaculture industry with resulting improvements in disease resistance and welfare of farmed salmon.”
Entrepreneurial Class of 2010-11 Here are the latest entrepreneurs to establish 35 new spin-out/start-up businesses with support from Edinburgh Research and Innovation: Accendo Design Ltd Sam Zawadski Alma Innovations Ltd Georgios Machsiras Backstage Edinburgh Ltd Andy Williamson Club Forecast Stefan Hulsberg / Roman Porry Codeus Ltd Daniel Brendt / Alex Svanevik / Thomas Joyce Context Sensitive Ltd Paul Collins / Alister Readman / Dr Kate Ho Deliverics Ltd Dr Asier Unciti-Broceta DestiNA Genomics Ltd Dr Juan Diaz-Mochon Devious Solutions Mark Jones East Lothian Energy Ltd Jason Cook Eulysis Ltd Spyridon Tsakas Feusd Ltd Thomas Inglis Flats 4 Uni James Winfield The Float Yard Ltd Colin Hewitt Inspired Enterprises Ltd William Ross
K-Cubed Ltd David Griffiths Lani Watson Lani Watson Nested Ltd Matthew Zadrozny Neuro Org Business Consulting Ltd Professor Tom Gillingwater One Measure Solutions Ltd Brendan Corkery RICAtek Ltd Professor Tughrul Arslan Rozo Ltd Fiona Tait Scientific Editing Company Ltd Joanna Young Speech Graphics Ltd Michael Berger / Dr Gregor Hofer Suitably Social Randall Helms Techniche Software Solutions Ltd Rakesh Reddy TheoryMine Ltd Flaminia Cavallo Tigatag Ltd Bruno Panara / Simon Vansintjan Trans-Atlantic Soccer UK Ltd Andrew Cook / Scott MacFarlane Ventribe Ltd Itai Raveh / Tahir Popat / Steve Walker / Rupert Sully Voxsta Designer Clothing Ali Khan Wallit Matt Fleming Wind Trader Ltd Kushal Gurung Xi Engineering Consultants Dr Mark-Paul Buckingham Zeal Internet Marketing Ltd Doug Holmes
taking off Grant Wheeler, Head of Company Formation and Incubation at Edinburgh Research and Innovation explains how University initiatives are helping new ventures get off the ground
Edinburgh Research and Innovation has supported more than 180 spin-out and start-up businesses that have emerged from the University in the last 10 years, and many have gone on to achieve notable success – though often in different ways. Edinburgh spin-out MTEM provided the University with one of its most significant ‘exits’ when it was acquired in 2007, less than four years after launch. While MTEM is now part of a larger group, the company still operates as a subsidiary entity and provides employment for staff within the Edinburgh region. Sometimes, spin-out companies, such as text-to-speech software spin-out company Rhetorical Systems Ltd, are acquired by market-leading companies and integrated within their operations. This allows key people to return to the University to either resume research or support new ventures – as Matthew Aylott did in spinning out new text-to-speech technology company, Cereproc. Meanwhile, more established spin-outs, such as Wolfson Microelectronics, remain independent and compete successfully in global markets. The rapid growth in company formation activity at the University has really emerged in the last five years, with 143 spin-out and start-up businesses formed. Many are still in their nascent stage, such as Pufferfish, Snocat, Actual Analytics, Hubdub, Carbon Masters, Fios Genomics and, perhaps most notable, NGenTec. Although clear evidence of any success is not obvious, and those companies are not yet acquisition targets, many have shown real signs of progress. For Edinburgh’s student entrepreneurs, support comes through LAUNCH.ed, an ERI initiative offering extra-curricular teaching, seminars, workshops and on-site support for students forming businesses during study or soon afterwards. Edinburgh’s commitment to supporting student enterprise starts at the very top through Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea,
Principal of the University, who has been a board director of both Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Institute for Enterprise, and remains a fervent supporter of LAUNCH.ed. With that level of support, it can be no surprise that LAUNCH.ed’s success has been sector-leading. During the academic year 2010-11, Edinburgh students formed 30 new businesses – the highest number ever. But the wider impact of entrepreneurial skills gained by Edinburgh
“Rapid growth in company formation at the University has really emerged in the last five years, with 143 spin-out and start-up businesses formed” students and taken into their future employment is immeasurable. In the past year, we have also launched a new initiative, the Accelerator Pipeline, to meet the needs of postgraduate student technology entrepreneurs, who needed support comparable to those of members of University staff spinning-out platform technology companies. For the first time, these entrepreneurial students will have access to the sort of top-end high-growth company formation support only offered by a select group of universities to their top spin-out projects. In the Accelerator Pipeline’s first full year of operation, the results have been hugely impressive. Of the ten projects and new
companies that are currently receiving support, one of these companies, Speech Graphics, has secured a UKwide award for its innovative audio-driven animation product. The current economic climate is clearly impossible to ignore, but there is a credible view offered by many that during these times of change – some would say chaos – the greatest opportunities appear. Large companies are looking to save money and are willing to implement new processes to achieve that – perhaps taking risks with new suppliers, services or products. That makes it a time of opportunity for new spin-out and start-up businesses to show how they can deliver innovative or improved products/services to the market. Yes, other issues make it hard – lack of investment for instance. But it’s not an entirely negative situation. Indeed, the University has seen this as an opportunity to launch a new investment fund focused on Edinburgh’s new companies with global ambitions. Old College Capital has already made its first investment, with others to follow in the year ahead. However, what the current economic climate demands is careful planning and analysis of markets and their trends. Making the right decisions at the right time is critical. That is where ERI can help – from the very first step and onwards from there.
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Speech Graphics is one start-up to receive support from the University. Read about its success and how the Accelerator Pipeline can help many other ventures. See overleaf on page 17
A new scheme is helping students turn their research into viable businesses, and unlocking a wealth of new intellectual property
Facing their future The University of Edinburgh has been successfully supporting student entrepreneurs for more than a decade, via enterprise initiatives such as LAUNCH.ed. Now, Edinburgh Research and Innovation (ERI) aims to provide a dedicated service for genuine technology entrepreneurs among postgraduate students through a new initiative called the Accelerator Pipeline that has the potential to deliver huge value to the students, the University and the wider economy. After discussions with the University’s student entrepreneurs in 2009-10, ERI identified a particularly large subset of the student community whose entrepreneurial aspirations were not being met by the current provision of services. These entrepreneurial postgraduate students (PhD and research Masters students) often develop marketfocused intellectual property (IP) during their studies. However, due to that IP being owned by the students themselves, this hidden resource of University knowledge and IP was neither recognised nor exploited. This group’s requirements
were comparable to members of University staff spinning out platform technology companies. They needed access to the sort of top-end highgrowth company formation support that is several steps up from the enterprise support provided by the leading universities in the UK. They needed something different. To address this clear market gap, LAUNCH.ed created the Accelerator Pipeline – a programme of support for Edinburgh’s research students with high-growth-potential business propositions based on knowledge and intellectual property developed at the University. But, at Edinburgh,
“Companies emerging from the Accelerator Pipeline are a step ahead of their spin-out counterparts”
Full throttle The Accelerator Pipeline forms part of a NW European project on Open Innovation which has received European Regional Development funding through InterregVIB, which delivers activities to encourage the transfer of ideas between student entrepreneurs, SMEs, multinationals and the public.
through the Accelerator Pipeline, this support is available for free and without the requirement for students to assign their IP to the University. By providing this, Edinburgh opened up a viable channel to transfer and exploit a substantial and untapped part of its knowledge and IP portfolio. The Accelerator Pipeline has broken new ground! For the first time, Edinburgh’s students are benefiting from the depth and quality of company formation support otherwise only available at the top spin-out universities in Europe. And the companies emerging from the
Accelerator Pipeline are, in many ways, a step or more ahead of their illustrious spin-out counterparts. While Accelerator Pipeline companies are generally based on IP generated in the University’s labs, the nature of that IP is subtly but significantly different. It is an off-shoot technology developed as a sideline to a student’s main research focus to serve a need rather than for the sake of research. Still groundbreaking and at times even fundamental, critically, this IP portfolio is often market-ready and serving prevailing market needs. The Accelerator Pipeline started
Sign of success One young company has reaped the benefits of being involved with LAUNCH.ed Speech Graphics Ltd is an award-winning young company that provides the most advanced solution to the fastest growing problem in the video game industry today: lip synchronisation. It’s scalable, audio-driven technology cuts the cost of game development while providing unprecedented lip-sync quality. With a unique confluence of expertise in speech technology and computer animation, Speech Graphics is positioned to become the leading
Dr Gregor Hofer (left) and Michael Berger have established Speech Graphics Ltd with help from the University
lip-sync service and software provider in the world. Modern games can include thousands of hours of recorded speech, all of which requires production of synchronised facial animation. The Speech Graphics solution analyses an input audio signal and automatically moves an animated character’s face in synchrony with the audio. PhD candidate Michael Berger, a linguist and computer scientist who has been working in the field of speech animation for 15 years, and Dr Gregor Hofer, a postdoctoral researcher from the University’s School of
Speech Graphics is also highlighted in the feature on page 28 by Jonathan Harris, Editor of Young Company Finance Scotland, as one of his “ones to watch”
its first full year of operation in 2010-11 with impressive results: • 10 projects and new companies are now receiving support • An Accelerator Pipeline company won a John Logie Baird Award for Innovation 2011 • One company has also been awarded a SMART:SCOTLAND Innovation Grant. The Accelerator Pipeline is now well established and its impact is proven. But its wider impact of giving student entrepreneurs the confidence to try something audacious, and perhaps a little dangerous, may well turn out to be its lasting legacy.
Informatics, have been working intensively with LAUNCH.ed for nearly a year. LAUNCH. ed helped them establish this successful company and, as a result, they have recently been awarded a SMART:SCOTLAND Innovation Grant. In 2011, Speech Graphics was recognised with a John Logie Baird Award for Innovation 2011 in the category of “Knowledge Transfer Champion”. Michael Berger, Chief Technical Officer of Speech Graphics Ltd, said: “This award means a lot to us. Scotland has proved to be a great place to go into business.”
A new University investment arm is set to help start-ups and spin-outs to move to the next level
High value Historically, early-stage investment in Scotland has been dominated by founder-investors and business angels. This has served Scotland’s companies well, with many benefiting from the experience and hands-on input that typically accompanies such investments. And while many of the University’s spin-outs and start-ups continue to develop genuinely valuable relationships with business angels, others now look outside Scotland for more substantial sums to seed their global ambitions. The University now aims to assist those companies by actively investing alongside venture capital funds in a manner that looks set to provide spin-off benefits to the wider economy. In 2010, Edinburgh Research and Innovation convened its Equity Management Group, recruiting high-profile members from the investment community in Edinburgh. This group considered a new approach to investment in the University’s new companies and looked to effect significant structural change in the Scottish investment scene by attracting institutional investment. One result has been the creation of a new investment arm to provide crucial funding for the University’s leading spin-outs and start-ups. Old College Capital, a limited partnership, will make mid- and late-stage venture investments into companies as they grow and develop. Investments will be made as part of large deals involving
venture capital funds or professional investors. Old College Capital will seek to invest a total fund of up to £2 million, making available amounts of £100,000 to £400,000 for spin-outs with very high growth potential. Old College Capital made its first investment of £200,000 into NGenTec, a spin-out from the University’s School of Engineering, which is developing an efficient generator system for use in large wind turbines. The company also received a £2 million investment from a Dutch venture capital fund and Scottish Enterprise’s Scottish Coinvestment Fund. NGenTec also established an industrial partnership with global gearing company David Brown Gear Systems. At the launch of the scheme, the University’s Principal, Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, said: “This is a very significant step for the University as we seek to build on the highly successful commercialisation of our research activity.” Hamish Mair, Head of Private Equity at F&C Investments and an alumnus of the University, has been appointed to chair Old College Capital’s investment committee. He said: “This has the potential to grow into something substantial for the University and the wider economy.” In September 2011, Andrea Young, known for her work with the Scottish Co-Investment Fund, was appointed as investment and portfolio manager of Old College Capital.
“Old College Capital will make midand late-stage investments into companies as they grow and develop”
DestiNA Genomics is a new University spin-out company that is applying groundbreaking science to deliver cost-effective, enzyme-free DNA and RNA analysis for faster identification of bacterial and viral diseases, and improved clinical diagnostic tests for cancers and other illnesses. The company’s origins are in research and validation of novel “dynamic chemistry” approaches to the detection of nucleic acids and their mutations, undertaken by Dr Juan Diaz Mochon, Professor Mark Bradley, and PhD student Frank Bowler in the University’s School of Chemistry. Up until now, the detection and analysis of microRNAs has been a complex and expensive series of preparation, conversion and amplification steps, with risk of errors. This has limited the ability of researchers to undertake more sophisticated, multiplexed studies. With support from the Scottish Enterprise Proof of Concept programme, the group was able to establish that its patented SMARTTM Nucleobases technology worked accurately to detect mutations in Cystic Fibrosis patients. In December 2010, the spin-out of DestiNA Genomics was formalised with the agreement of a worldwide, exclusive licence to the technology from the University. The revolutionary DestiNA technology is capable of delivering faster, more errorfree detection of nucleic acids and their mutations than current enzyme-based detection systems. The DestiNA reagents make false positive results a thing of the past. This opens up the development of improved clinical diagnostic tests for cancers and other illnesses, rapid detection
Destiny calling A recent University spin-out has developed faster and more accurate diagnostic tests for illnesses such as cancer of pathogenic bacteria and viruses for human health, as well as tests for food quality. The company is developing a range of probes for nucleic acid sequences (DNA, mRNA, microRNAs), as well as its patented SMARTTM Nucleobases, for different detection systems using fluorescent and colour dyes coupled to them (Biotin, fluorescein, amino groups). These reagents are now in the process of being trialled on commercially available mass spectrometry, micro-array, Lab-on-aChip and bead-based platforms. DestiNA aims to become a significant global player in the rapidly growing molecular diagnostic market and, thanks to the test speed, accuracy and
miniaturisation possible for their reagents, to become a leading provider to the emerging personalised medicine market. However, in the short term, they are looking to licence their technology for evaluation and development agreements with pharmaceutical and detection platform companies that leads to customised reagent supply agreements. Hugh Ilyine, CEO of DestiNA Genomics, said: “DestiNA has the potential to be a very significant success for the University. “We believe the company’s ultimate value will be in the hundreds of millions, and become known as a notable success for Scotland. In any event, we are going to try our best to deliver on this.” The DestiNA team aims for its technology to be a big success
DestiNA Genomics is also highlighted in the feature on page 28 by Jonathan Harris, Editor of Young Company Finance Scotland, as one of his “ones to watch”
Low carbon innovation
green revolution Low carbon innovation research at the University of Edinburgh is making it possible to develop new technologies that will have a major impact on the future of our planet. For decades, the University has not only been pushing boundaries and making visions of wave power, wind power and carbon capture a reality, it has shone a spotlight on the huge economic potential of those ideas, realising there is so much to be done and so much to be achieved
Carbon Capture & Storage Finding ways to capture carbon and store it for the benefit of the planet The University is internationally recognised for its expertise across the chain of carbon capture and storage (CCS), with researchers working on related topics across disciplines. The Universityâ€™s reputation is characterised by strong partnerships with industry. For example, Edinburgh is leading a new consortium that will accelerate both the development and adoption of carbon capture plant engineering and CO2 separation technologies. This exciting initiative will allow partners to achieve industrial-scale postcombustion carbon capture and reduce carbon emissions from power stations.
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Wind Power Driving innovation in the renewable wind energy market The University’s research on electrical machines and power electronics led to the spin-out of NGenTec Ltd in 2009, a company that continues to develop and commercialise the groundbreaking multi-MW direct drive permanent magnet generator technology for use in the renewable wind energy market. Meanwhile, an exciting new industry collaboration with energy equipment company Converteam will establish an advanced technology research centre at the University to develop power converters. These will allow large offshore wind farms to feed into multiterminal high voltage direct current transmission networks.
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Marine Energy Making waves in marine renewable energy The University has been at the forefront of marine renewable energy research for nearly four decades, building on the groundbreaking work of Professor Stephen Salter and the “Edinburgh Duck” wave energy device. The Institute for Energy Systems leads many key research projects in this field, including the next phase of the EPSRC-funded SuperGen Marine Consortium, which includes the development of the UK Centre for Marine Energy Research. The University’s key role will continue with the world’s first combined current and wave testing centre in 2013.
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Low carbon innovation
Making waves Professor Ian Bryden, Head of the Institute for Energy Systems, explains how Edinburgh has been leading marine energy research for almost four decades
The University of Edinburgh has played a leading role in marine renewable energy research for nearly 40 years, with many significant achievements during this period attributable to research and teaching within the Institute for Energy Systems (IES). With the recent award of the inaugural Saltire Prize Medal to Professor Stephen Salter, and a new current/wave basin testing facility being built at Edinburgh, the University’s pivotal role in marine renewable energy research looks like continuing as this area becomes more vital to the supply of green energy in the future. In the early 1970s, Professor Salter and his Wave Power Group created the “Edinburgh’s Duck” to generate electricity from the waves. Subsequent research has focused
40-year timeline for marine renewable energy research
on improved wave devices, highefficiency hydraulic transmission and control and a new generation of test tanks, including the University’s existing curved wave tank facility. These areas of research led to significant energy-related commercial start-up activity from the School of Engineering: • Edinburgh Designs Ltd – world-leading wave-making tank designers and builders, whose international clients include the US military and Disney World
energy, as well as the automotive and industrial machinery sectors. The company was recently acquired by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd
• Pelamis Wave Power Ltd – formed by graduate Richard Yemm (as Ocean Power Delivery) to develop the Pelamis wave energy converter – the world’s first commercial-scale machine to generate electricity to The new All-Waters Combined the grid from offshore Current and Wave Test Facility will be capable of simulating full wave energy, and the first scale seas with 28m waves to be used commercially.
28m and currents of up to 6m per second.
• Artemis Intelligent Power Ltd – developed Digital Displacement® hydraulic power technology, which has applications in renewable
Professor Stephen Salter and his Wave Power Group within the University develop the “Edinburgh’s Duck” wave energy converter –a one of the world’s first wave energy devices.
The Institute continues to push the understanding of marine energy research through its unique testing facilities, including the programmable controlled curved wave tank. The Institute has led all the
The University establishes the first multi-directional mixed wave tank to be built specifically for wave energy research.
Start-up of Edinburgh Designs Ltd, which has gone on to become a
world leader in wave-making and testing tank design.
Professor Salter and Win Rampen founded Artemis Intelligent Power Ltd to develop the next generation of hydraulic machine using Digital Displacement® technology.
Image © aquamarine power ltd
Research Council UK flagship research consortia in marine energy and has recently won further support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to establish and operate the UK Centre for Marine Energy Research (UKCMER) over the next five years. Ambitious government targets have been set to install up to 2000MW of wave and tidal current generators in UK waters by the end of this decade. The Crown Estates have leased sites in the Pentland Firth to eight developers aiming to install 1600MW of capacity which represents a potential capital investment of about £4 billion up until 2022. UKCMER will nucleate academic, industrial and international participation in the deployment challenge of marine energy devices from the initial laboratory testing
University graduate Richard Yemm, inventor of the Pelamis Wave Energy Converter, launches start-up Ocean Power Delivery Ltd, which is incubated at the University until 2000.
through to successful commercial deployment at sea. A national resource is, therefore, essential for wave and tidal technology companies, and marine energy farm developers, to test at a meaningful scale in representative combined wave and tidal currents
A new curved tank for wave energy research is commissioned and built by Edinburgh Designs Ltd.
The Institute for Energy Systems is awarded the lead role in phase I of
Above: the harvest of energy from the seas begins with Aquamarine Power’s Oyster; below: the new All-Waters Combined Current and Wave Test Facility at the University will open in 2013
on dry land. This would contribute significantly in the de-risking of the significant challenges that lie ahead. To date, there is no such facility in the world that can test wave energy device prototypes around the 1/20th scale in a programmable combined current and wave regime and thus effectively bridge the gap between the laboratory 1/100th scale model and the final prototypes tested at sea. To address this urgent need, the University and EPSRC are investing jointly to construct a £9 million allwaters combined current and wave test facility, the world’s first multidirectional wave and current testing centre for marine energy, to be operational by mid-2013. A unique facility will be capable of
the EPSRC-funded SuperGen Marine Energy Research Programme.
The Institute launches the UK Centre for Marine Renewable Energy to drive forward the development of wave and tidal energy.
The Institute publishes a joint report with the Scottish Executive confirming the viability of a Scottish target of 40 per cent of electricity generated from renewable sources by 2020.
low carbon innovation
Stephen Salter with “Edinburgh’s Duck” in Curved Wave Tank Facility
prestigious prize for wave power pioneer
Continued > robustly, and repeatedly, simulating any desired combination of current and wave conditions around all of the UK and the majority of key European coastlines. The desired set of wave and tidal conditions for testing might require a wait of months or years to observe in the sea. This facility will allow developers to replicate these conditions in a controlled environment, and in a few hours, for accurate, repeatable and reliable testing of 1/40th to 1/10th scale wave and tidal-powered test devices. Successful design development and testing of medium-scale model marine energy generating devices using this quality of facility,
The Institute takes a lead role in the European FP7 EQUIMAR project to find ways of evaluating environmental credentials of tidal and wave energy devices as a condition of receiving government support.
would mitigate the risk or expense ultimately associated with open sea testing. This creates a simple gateway to the large investment necessary to build open-sea or sheltered-watersscale “mini-prototypes” to test at, for example, quarter or half-scale in the sea. Insurers, as well as financial investors, will also be interested in the results – and this facility, along with existing facilities at the University and its UKCMER partners, will provide the essential capability and resource to achieve such ambitious marine energy generation targets by the end of this decade. As Professor Salter states: “Make all your mistakes at small scale and on dry land.”
The Institute awarded industrial/ academic research contracts under two Energy Technologies Institute programmes (ReDAPT and PerAWaT) to produce tools that estimate energy yield of major marine energy arrays.
Above: SeaGen tidal energy converter in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland. © Marine Current Turbines Ltd
In March 2011, Professor Emeritus Stephen Salter MBE, a worldleading pioneer of wave power technologies, was awarded the inaugural Saltire Prize Medal by First Minister Alex Salmond MSP, in recognition of his key role in the development of marine energy. Professor Salter established his reputation in the marine energy sector by designing the “Edinburgh’s Duck” wave power device with his team at the University of Edinburgh in the 1970s. The Edinburgh’s Duck was one of the world’s first wave energy devices and is still regarded as one of the most efficient. Professor Salter continues to work in the Institute for Energy Systems at the School of Engineering and is also a specialist technical adviser to Aquamarine Power Limited, creators of the wave energy Oyster device and whose head office is based in Edinburgh. Professor Anne Glover, Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland, who chaired the judging panel, said: “There can be few scientists or engineers as inspiring as Stephen Salter. He has always pushed the boundaries of what is possible and every problem is a new challenge for him.”
The Institute is awarded a lead role in phase III of the EPSRC-funded SuperGen Marine Energy Research Consortium.
The Institute receives further support from EPSRC to establish and operate the UK Centre for Marine Energy over the next five years.
Professor Stefano Brandani envisages a consortium that will accelerate the uptake of the results of the carbon adsorption research and development
A new industrial research consortium at the University is aiming to speed-up the development and adoption of carbon adsorption technologies using rapid synthesis and screening of nanoporous materials for adsorption and membrane processes to achieve industrial-scale postcombustion carbon capture from power generation stations. The Adsorption Research Industrial Consortium (ARIC) was formed out of the EPSRC-funded Innovative Gas Separations for Carbon Capture project as a knowledge exchange initiative to disseminate results from this, and other related research activity. The ARIC consortium is led by Professor Stefano Brandani, in the University’s School of Engineering, and will initially run for three years. Professor Brandani and his research group have built up an impressive research laboratory, with state-of-the-art equipment, which includes in-house developed systems that look at the experimental methodologies to determine equilibrium and kinetic parameters for adsorption research. Hitachi, Air Liquide and Air Products have become the first major industrial partners to sign up to the ARIC consortium, but other companies are expected to join this exciting initiative.
A consortium involving businesses and the University is helping to investigate carbon-capture on an industrial scale from power generation stations In addition, scientific equipment manufacturers, Quantachrome and National Instruments, are also participating in the consortium, contributing specialised equipment for the use of the consortium members. These industrial partners have subscribed to become a member of the ARIC consortium for an annual membership fee of £20,000 per year. For this fee, the benefits available to each member are significant. The University will provide access to its in-house software simulation suite for adsorption processes to carry out evaluation and trials, along with regular updates to the software and training courses on the simulation software. There will also be training secondments for up to four months per year for both laboratory-based and or simulation projects at the University, as well as the option to
attend the University’s Adsorption and Molecular Thermodynamics courses. In addition, there will be an opportunity for consultation and training from the equipment manufacturer, Quantachrome, with regard to the validation of equipment protocols. Professor Brandani said: “The ARIC consortium is the ideal route to engage with industry to facilitate knowledge exchange of adsorption research coming from the University and its partners. It will allow us to cultivate existing collaborations with particular companies in order to develop larger research partnerships in the future.”
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For more details on how to participate as an industrial partner in the Adsorption Research Industrial Consortium at the University of Edinburgh, please get in touch with…
Business Development Executive email@example.com
low carbon innovation
An industry partnership between the University and Converteam aims to boost the efficiency of power transmission from offshore wind turbines
Winds of change The University is working with energy equipment company Converteam on a partnership that has established an advanced technology centre at the University to undertake research on advanced high voltage direct current to direct current (HV DC-DC) power converters for offshore renewable energy systems. As a major player in the energy sector, Converteam has a presence in several markets, including power generation, marine, offshore oil and gas, and renewables. The company was looking to expand its power converter technology activity through the development of an advanced HV DC-DC power converter to allow large offshore wind farms to feed into multi-terminal HVDC transmission networks. An offshore wind installation that generates and transmits DC to shore is potentially much more efficient and cost effective than one which is based on alternating current (AC). With a manufacturing plant already established in Glasgow, the company decided to open an advanced technology centre in Scotland, with assistance from Scottish Development International and Scottish Enterprise. Converteam visited Scottish universities, undertaking research in power generation to identify the best academic partner and location for a new centre. Converteam was impressed with the research activity and facilities at the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Energy Systems and, in particular, with Dr Markus Mueller and Dr Ewen Macpherson’s research expertise on rotating machines. As a result, Converteam chose to set up their new Scottish Advanced Technology Centre at the University of Edinburgh, on the King’s Buildings campus, close to the Institute for Energy Systems. The Converteam centre will undertake research with the aim of developing intellectual property linked to
Dr Ewen Macpherson, left, and Dr Markus Mueller
“We’re delighted to establish our centre at the University of Edinburgh, which boasts worldclass facilities and expertise”
its HV DC-DC converter technology. This will result in the creation of jobs at the centre, as well as funding for three PhD students to work on these projects. Through this engagement with Dr Mueller and his research team on the dedicated PhD projects, Converteam will gain valuable know-how and experience in the power electronics research areas and apply it to their HV DC-DC converter technology. Converteam will also be able to access the power electronics research facilities at the Institute for Energy Systems and its academic partners. Dr Mueller said: “In setting up the centre at Edinburgh, and placing the company’s staff and the University PhD students in the same working environment, Converteam has made every effort to ensure a successful research collaboration.” Andy Bullock, Research & Technology Manager at Converteam, said: “We believe that a fully DC architecture will relieve the wind energy industry of many of the technological and economic constraints it faces today. “Our collaboration with the University will initially target the development of a DC power converter. This piece of equipment is a key enabler for realising the DC architecture objective; it is the fundamental component for the efficient export of DC power from each turbine tower. We’re delighted to establish our centre at the University of Edinburgh, which boasts world-class facilities and expertise.” Building research capability and experience in power electronics through the Scottish Advanced Technology Centre will develop a potential stream of skilled postgraduates for employment in technology areas that are important for the company’s growth and prosperity. This could also bring benefits to the growing renewable energy markets in Scotland and the UK.
Jonathan Harris, Editor, Young Company Finance Scotland, picks out the spin-outs and start-ups tipped for a great future
Ones to watch In the 12 years that we have been producing our monthly publication, Young Company Finance (YCF), we have written about hundreds of early-stage companies in Scotland. The University of Edinburgh is one of the UK’s leading institutions for forming new companies. Some are spin-outs, formed to commercialise intellectual property owned by the University. Others are start-ups, formed by University students or recent graduates, and related to the science and technology being researched and developed at the University. More are companies formed by students, which can have nothing to do with their academic studies, but where the student has been encouraged to take the first step towards building a business in an area about which they are enthusiastic. Some have been awarded SMART:SCOTLAND grants, some have pitched for funding, others have secured it. Some, in particular MTEM, have started “with all their ducks in a row” and commenced trading profitably. We have watched these companies progress to great success. Occasionally, as in the case of VLSI Vision and Wolfson
Microelectronics, this is by way of a stock market flotation. More often, this is by way of a trade sale, such as MTEM and Rhetorical Systems. Sometimes, as in the case of VLSI Vision and Voxar, this can result in the establishment of a global centre of excellence in Scotland. It has been fun, trying to understand the technology and explain it to lay readers (not always something that entrepreneurs are good at). A particular pleasure, however, is to see young companies find their commercial feet, and discover what it takes to impress customers and potential investors. Sometimes this knowledge is
“A pleasure is to see young companies find their commercial feet, and discover what it takes to impress”
hard won. No matter how many times advisers and investors tell presenters who are pitching for funds that the world is more interested in who you will sell to (and why they will buy) rather than how the technology works, it can take a long time for this message to be fully absorbed. This point has been repeatedly emphasised to me by business angels in the LINC Scotland network, with whom YCF commenced a licensing partnership in February this year. Those ventures of particular interest have significant growth prospects, usually meaning that they are scalable (one extra unit can be sold without much additional cost). They are all, however, indications of a broad culture of enterprise at the University. Of the current crop of new enterprises, there are several that are well worth watching and here are five examples I have selected that stand out. In case this article is read by anyone from the Financial Services Authority, I should point out that neither I nor YCF are in any way authorised or competent to make recommendations for investment in any of the companies selected.
Image © sandy young photography
HeadsUp Development HeadsUp Development has brought to market HeadsUp Agile, a software project management platform that uses visualisations, reporting and notification mechanisms to make the software development process totally visible to all team members.
What we like about the company approach gives immediate ∂overview ∂Dashboard of project status – first product ∂launched ∂Fast to market in June this year
Skoogmusic Skoogmusic gives children who are unable to handle other musical instruments the means of making music in an intuitive and expressive way. The Skoog™ is a squeezy cube that is sensitive to the slightest touch, using advanced software to deliver the quality and expressive character of real musical instruments.
What we like about the company... with a serious ∂social ∂Fun product purpose different from every ∂other ∂Totally University company we have covered
DestiNA Genomics DestiNA Genomics is a recent spinout from the University, formed to commercialise a chemical-based system for detecting nucleic acids. Unlike all other competitor systems, it requires no enzymes to conduct the analysis, and offers microRNA profiling in a single step.
What we like about the company...
Speech Graphics provides lip synchronisation technology for the video games industry. The company was founded by researchers from the Centre for Speech Technology Research at the School of Informatics and combines expertise in speech technology and computer animation. The system is audio-driven, meaning that it can replace the expensive and labour-intensive technique of performance-driven animation, or be used in conjunction with it.
What we like about the company... convergence of technologies gives ∂a ∂The powerful new approach to a process ∂∂Easily understood customer benefits
∂∂Wide range of potential applications for recent acquisitions of ∂comparable ∂High valuescompanies
Tigatag Tigatag combines social networking, location-based marketing and digital games technology to enable companies to build branded games or other applications for potential customers inside or near their venues. The first obvious application is with visitor centres and sightseeing attractions, where the possibilities are limited only by the
imagination – virtual exploration of the site, a treasure hunt on the physical site, and many other ways in which users can play and compete as they explore and discover a venue.
What we like about the company...
∂∂Easy to imagine many exciting applications ∂∂Simple, straightforward application of existing technologies
WORKING WITH US
Ian Murphy, Head of Commercial Development at Edinburgh Research and Innovation, explains how the University can help businesses as they sail into uncharted waters For more than 40 years, the University of Edinburgh has been engaging with business and industry, having established one of the first university industrial liaison offices in the UK in 1969. Today, the University’s technology transfer office, Edinburgh Research and Innovation (ERI), continues to work in this area, providing a point of contact for business and industry looking to develop a fruitful relationship with the University. All major universities have dedicated offices established to liaise with the business community. They may be called technology transfer, knowledge exchange or commercialisation offices or the office of sponsored programmes. These offices
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To discuss how your business can engage with the University of Edinburgh, please get in touch with…
Head of Commercial Development firstname.lastname@example.org
exist to help bridge the cultural differences between business and academia. They are staffed by technology transfer professionals who have experience in both sectors, which gives them an understanding of where both sides are coming from. Some people might refer to that position as being caught between a rock and a hard place but, here at ERI, we see it as an opportunity to ensure strong and positive relationships are developed and maintained. Having built up extensive experience in technology transfer, ERI has developed its business services to ensure that we make it easier for business and industry to work with the University of Edinburgh. Throughout this magazine, we have
highlighted some examples of how we have helped make a difference for companies in the past year. However, some of the key areas that we see as vital in making a difference for your organisation include:
Ensuring a win-win outcome for everyone ERI is charged with negotiating deals on behalf of the University of Edinburgh. Like any company, our aspiration is to obtain optimum value for the University. However, we also seek an equitable solution for all parties. Evidence of the success of this approach is the 291 licence agreements we have concluded in the past five years. Dr Derek Shepherd, Chairman, NGenTec Ltd, said: “When I was first approached to assist in taking a new spin-out company from being wholly owned by the University into a separate legal entity, I had only ever worked with businesses, never with a university. “The commercialisation process took time – partly because none of us were full time. In many areas, such as IP protection and grants, both areas that I had no experience in, the University were very much in control and were maximising value for the spin-out company. “Looking back, without the early groundwork done by ERI and the positive response to issues and questions ranging from IP to secondments to grants to shareholdings and expectations, the company would never have succeeded in attracting investment.”
Understanding the challenges ahead Spin-out companies have an enormous number of challenges in emerging from a university academic laboratory. The spin-out
process works best when there is good understanding and transparency between the parties from the start. This engenders confidence and trust as the parties ‘sail into the unknown’. The transition from an idea, invention or discovery into commercial reality as a spin-out company is difficult without experienced and dedicated support. Dr Hugh Ilyine, Chief Executive Officer of DestiNA Genomics Ltd, which spun out from the University, said: “The spin-out process really needs to have competent, experienced and committed people to make such things work at a ‘real’ level, rather than just a ‘paper exercise’ and plaything of academic researchers. “Equally important to its future success was establishing the founder shareholdings through open discussion of past and future expected contributions, which has stood the company in good stead. “ERI has contributed positively in this respect with DestiNA; otherwise the spinout would not have succeeded.”
Looking beyond the deal ERI’s involvement doesn’t end with the conclusion of the deal with a company. There is still the opportunity to build relationships and partnerships that provide the company with a chance to grow, using the world-class expertise and resources of the University. Rob Palfreyman, Chief Executive Officer, sensewhere Ltd (previously SATSIS Ltd), said: “The relationship with ERI was like having an additional adviser at board level continuing to make a valuable contribution beyond licensing the intellectual property. ERI’s understanding of commercialising new technologies and operating in global
markets is a valuable asset to early stage companies like ours.”
Mechanisms for engagement that meet specific needs ERI offers many ways for business and industry to work with the University, designed to meet particular needs. Often, this can start on a small scale, such as an industrial studentship, but can develop into larger, more strategic long-term collaborations. This is shown in more detail on the next page in our look at five ways of engaging with the University to build your business. Dr Eric Whale, Managing Director, CelluComp Ltd, said: “We have found the process of applying for and working with Edinburgh Research and Innovation and the University through the innovation voucher scheme an extremely beneficial experience.”
Making it easier to engage with us
Have we already invented your next big idea? While Edinburgh may not have the specific technology that meets your specific needs, there may be another university out there that has already invented a product which could enhance or broaden your company’s offering. University Technology – Invented in Scotland is a unique initiative that brings together all the latest technologies and licensing opportunities from all of Scotland’s universities to make it easier for potential investors around the world to find new technologies and business opportunities from Scottish universities in one convenient location.
For more information, go to www.university-technology.com
ERI’s Click-thru Licensing System makes it easier for your organisation to license key technologies from the University of Edinburgh under a standard non-exclusive licence agreement. We’ve recently introduced online payments as part of our continuing development of this system. John McCourt, Clinical Informatics Manager, Dublin Centre for Clinical Research, said: “The whole procurement process from the click-thru licensing system to final implementation and support has run without any problems.” You’ve heard from those who have first-hand experience of working with the University of Edinburgh, so now it’s your opportunity to come and see how we can start to build a fruitful relationship to help take your business to the next level.
Turn overleaf to page 32 for five ways you can work with the University to help build a better business or a stronger product
Working with us
Engaging with the University is easy. Here are five ways of working together to build your businessâ€Ś
Working together Working with a large world-leading university such as Edinburgh is much easier than it sounds. Through Edinburgh Research and Innovation, the University offers many ways for business and industry to work with us, each designed to meet your particular needs.
If your company has a technical challenge, a market opportunity or a need to access expertise from outside your established area of expertise, the University offers effective solutions through collaborative research programmes. Engaging our researchers is a cost-effective option for building an in-house capability and creating knowledge and intellectual property. We undertake collaborative research projects with industrial partners across a wide range of markets, providing them with innovative solutions and opportunities to make a step change in their business.
Studentships provide the perfect opportunity for you to engage collaboratively with the Universityâ€™s academics. The three to four-
year programme engages a student to work in a research area of strategic interest for our clients. Studentships are an effective route to innovation, offering a cost efficient means to tackle longer-term opportunities and problems; providing access to state-ofthe-art facilities and academic experts at the forefront of their field.
Through licensing new technology from the University, you can access novel intellectual property arising from our world-leading research. The University has demonstrated the international stature of its intellectual property, with major scientific advances, inventions and innovations, and is commercialising these world-changing discoveries through partnerships with industry around the globe.
a wealth of internationally renowned high-calibre consultants. We provide a substantive expert opinion consultancy service to our industrial clients, from small and medium-sized companies to multinational organisations. Your company may wish to engage an academic expert who will use their knowledge to assess a problem and recommend a course of action. As turnaround time is usually critical, we base our services around a simple contract and an agreed daily rate.
Access to facilities and services
The University of Edinburgh has some of the most sophisticated analytical testing facilities and equipment in the world. These facilities deliver a range of testing, validation and problem-solving consultancy services for our clients. This includes proof-of-principle testing of new/ emerging technologies, laboratory-based testing and analysis, as well as supporting experimental/prototype design and development work.
Get in touch
To find out more about how you can engage with the University of Edinburgh to build your business, please get in touch withâ€Ś
We offer a comprehensive consultancy service, enabling our clients to solve problems, implement change and validate processes and new products. With more than 1,600 academic experts in a wide range of disciplines, the University has
Company Relations Manager email@example.com
working with us
Click through Edinburgh Research and Innovation’s online licensing system is a quick and easy way to license software and materials from the University
Edinburgh Research and Innovation (ERI)’s Click-thru Licensing System is building a significant portfolio of software and materials that are available to license at the click of a button. With standard licence agreements and an online payment facility, the freely-accessible and easy-to-use webbased licensing system makes it easier for businesses to source software and materials at the University of Edinburgh. A prime example of the type of opportunity available is a software system developed by Elizabeth McDowell and her IT team within the University’s Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility (WTCRF) to centralise their study management data, manage resource bookings and improve the reporting process. This system, called CRFManager™ (Clinical Research Facility Manager), helps the WTCRF better organise its data in Edinburgh by putting everything relating to a clinical study in one place and providing instantaneous reports of the key metrics they need. The resulting data integrity is much improved and a notification system keeps administrative staff alerted to information that requires follow-up. In February 2009, Elizabeth contacted
“Easy-to-use webbased licensing system makes it easier for businesses to source software and materials” ERI for support as she had received enquiries from several external clinical research facilities that wanted a licence and maintenance contract for the software package. By June that year, ERI had agreed terms with the first licensee – University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust. Elizabeth added: “ERI helped us put together licence agreements for the
software and manage the site payments, which are collected annually. I wouldn’t like to have sold our system without this kind of legal advice and support with contracts.” This opportunity was then developed into a click-thru opportunity, with a standard licensing agreement, and is now available to license online via ERI’s Click-thru Licensing System. The CRFManager™ software is the biggest success on the click-thru system, having been licensed to 14 NHS Trusts so far, and is used in several other local studies and sites. John McCourt, Clinical Informatics Manager at Dublin Centre for Clinical Research, who has implemented the CRFManager™ software at four separate clinical research facilities in Dublin, said: “The software has lived up to and, indeed, surpassed our expectations when we decided to license it from Edinburgh. The whole procurement process from the clickthru licensing system to final implementation and support has run without any problems.”
To find out more about the technology opportunities that are currently available to license online, visit the ERI Click-thru Licensing System: http://licensing.research-innovation.ed.ac.uk
consulting the experts
Border Archery has called upon the University to help advance its world-class production techniques
Engineering expertise at the University of Edinburgh is helping a Scottish archery equipment company develop and manufacture a new and improved product range. Border Archery Ltd is a designer and manufacturer of archery equipment used by amateur and professional archers around the world. The company’s high performance bows are globally recognised for their extremely high quality, which are 100 per cent handmade at present. The company was looking to introduce new products to complement their existing capabilities and also considered the use of new materials for their bows. However, this required the design and production of components, some of which have to be cut from modern aerospace materials using computer numerically controlled (CNC) machining, which was a massive step for the company. The company contacted Interface – the knowledge connection for business, which approached the University to identify whether any academics at Edinburgh had the relevant expertise to help the company. Dr Frank Mill, an expert in industrial applications of computer-aided design systems within the University’s School of Engineering, was selected for this project,
Aiming for future success
Edinburgh’s support gives Scottish SME a sporting chance to bring Scotland to the forefront of the archery industry and Edinburgh Research and Innovation’s Consultancy Office helped negotiate the contract as well as funding from Sporting Chance Initiative’s STAR award scheme. The project involved concept design, 3D modelling of prototypes, material selection, finite element-based stress/
vibration analyses and the development of possible workholding and cutting strategies for CNC-based manufacture of a new longbow. Once this has been completed, the project will be brought in-house at Border Archery. Dr Mill was able to apply his expertise
Consult the Experts Working with one of the world’s leading research universities offers your business the following benefits:
Access to the latest research and expertise
More than 1,600 academic experts are engaged in research at the cutting edge of innovation across a wide range of expertise. With Edinburgh, you will have access to high-calibre expert consultants, many of whom are internationally renowned.
Develop new ideas, products or processes
The University has some of the most sophisticated analytical facilities delivering a range of testing, validation and problem-solving consultancy services for our clients. This can involve proof-of-principle testing of new/ emerging technologies, laboratorybased testing and analysis, as well as supporting experimental/prototype design and development work.
Exploit new market opportunities
Sid Ball, Managing Director of Border Archery
RIGHT ON TARGET At the 2010 World Flight Championship, archers using bows made by Border Archery won
1 gold medals and
as well as breaking 10 World Records! to solve this real business problem – to develop a workflow for the entire new production process for components made from aluminium alloys. This was the first step towards establishing the company’s ability to independently design and manufacture future generations of products that will maintain their current technology advantage in worldwide archery markets. The company is now completing its first new product introduction in a series of six that will be launched in the near future.
Sid Ball, Managing Director of Border Archery, said: “We have been very excited at the prospect of working with the University in a project that will place Scotland and Scottish innovation at the forefront of the archery industry. While the product is vital for us and provides an income stream in itself, the big gain is the capability to develop further products; all leading to greater market presence, improved income stream and added stability for our company, including our employees, and will allow us to expand and offer employment.”
In addition to providing access to world-class expertise and facilities, ERI also has a range of innovative technologies available to license. Visit www.research-innovation.ed.ac.uk/licensing
In this increasingly competitive world, companies need to look beyond existing markets to explore new market opportunities. Edinburgh’s experts can help you achieve this by providing a fresh insight into the challenges facing your business and developing innovative solutions to take your business forward.
Increase your competitiveness
Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) are an ideal way to help improve your business competitiveness and productivity. You get the benefit of a student or post graduate embedded within the company as a KTP Associate to work on a specified project. We provide academic supervision and the knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the University.
For more examples of how consulting the experts can help your business, turn over the page…
Get in touch
For more details on how to access the University’s worldclass experts and facilities, please get in touch with…
Consultancy Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
CONSULTING THE EXPERTs
Organic growth Research by the University into how consumers perceive organic and local food is helping one producer to boost its customer base, and could provide lessons for the wider organic industry in Scotland
aspects and were able to identify both egocentric and altruistic motivations for purchasing organic food products. In order to look at Scottish consumers’ perceptions, the team held two focus group discussions with Whitmuir farm supporters. For Whitmuir Organics, having an academic partner made its customers more willing to engage with the focus groups as they could be confident that this was research rather than sales activity – and the company learnt much more from the focus groups than its in-house surveys and meetings. Pete Ritchie said: “Working with the University of Edinburgh Business School has helped us enormously by deepening our understanding of our customers’ values and motivations and relating these to the research on perceptions of organic and local food. The project has helped us clarify both strategic direction for growing sales and provided some valuable pointers for how we can improve in the short term.” This will be taken forward to develop strong marketing strategies for the company as well as for the region. Other opportunities to build the Whitmuir brand through new distribution channels present an interesting challenge, not least in trying to capture the unique personal experience created by the proprietors. According to Professor Marshall: “There are implications more broadly for the organic industry in Scotland, not least in terms of the increasing importance attached to local produce.” Image © whitmuir organics ltd
The organic sector in Scotland is underdeveloped, with consumers spending proportionately less on organic food than almost any other region in the UK, despite ecological, social and economic benefits. For Borders-based organic farm Whitmuir Organics Ltd, understanding customer preferences for organic and locally-produced food is going to be crucial to retaining and growing its customer base. Whitmuir Organics produces organic meat and vegetables for sale through its farm shop and has a strong customer base. However, in order to realise its potential, Whitmuir Organics wanted to gain a better understanding of how consumers perceive organic produce, not least because ‘organic’ now competes with other labels such as ‘local’ for consumers’ attention. Pete Ritchie, joint owner of Whitmuir Organics, approached the University of Edinburgh’s Business School for assistance after hearing about Professor David Marshall’s research on consumer behaviour and marketing in the food industry. ERI’s Consultancy Office helped identify and assisted with an application for funding support for the project through the Scottish Funding Council’s Innovation Voucher Scheme. Professor Marshall and Dr Angela Tregear undertook consumer-related research to examine the relationship between organic and local produce, focusing on the symbolic/image-related
Really cooking: CelluComp’s technology is turning carrots into biocomposites, which then are used to make fishing rods, but there are numerous other applications for this innovative material
Research by the university is helping lay the foundations for one company to produce new ‘green’ materials
Fabric of life
A small Scottish company that produces high-performance biocomposite materials from sustainable sources, is working with an expert in plant cell wall biochemistry from the University’s School of Biological Sciences to improve its manufacturing process to create materials with strengths greater than glass fibre. CelluComp Ltd has developed a process that breaks down the cellulose in plantderived biocomposite materials, such as root vegetables, into micro-fibrils then combines it with a range of resins to create natural cellulose biocomposite materials from sustainable sources. The company’s major challenge was the variability in the performance of the resins – some are much more efficient binders of the fibrils than others, but it is not known why. CelluComp contacted the University to identify a suitable academic to help the company understand the binding process of resins, identify which resins will work best and thus reduce variability of the biocomposite production process. Edinburgh Research and Innovation’s Consultancy Office identified Professor
Stephen Fry, Professor of Plant Biochemistry in the School of Biological Sciences, as the ideal expert to help the company with this problem. ERI also assisted with an application for funding to the Scottish Funding Council’s Innovation Voucher Scheme, which provides financial support to small firms looking to access the world-class expertise and analytical testing facilities available within universities. Professor Fry has a unique tool box of assays and reagents for examining the biological materials that make up plants.
“Initial work will enable CelluComp to understand the biochemical properties of base materials”
Using these tools, he carried out a series of preliminary analytical tests to characterise the chemical and biological properties of the nanocellulose fibres, which impact upon the breakdown and composite development processes. For CelluComp, this initial characterisation work will enable it to understand the biochemical properties of the base material and how it interacts with different resins. This will determine which resins will work best to produce more consistent and robust biocomposites and thereby improve the biocomposite production process and product range. In time, it may also enable the creation of ‘greener’ products by enabling use of more naturally derived resins as opposed to the chemical ones used at present. Dr Eric Whale, Managing Director of CelluComp, said: “We have found the process of applying for and working with ERI, the University and Professor Fry through the innovation voucher scheme an extremely beneficial experience. We hope to work with Professor Fry and the University on future projects.”
APPLIANCE OF SCIENCE
Another dimension A research collaboration is set to lead to the launch of the next generation of holographic 3D displays
The University is working with a small local company on research into computergenerated holography to support the development of a pioneering holographic three-dimensional (3D) display system. Holoxica Ltd is an award-winning hi-tech company that specialises in supplying holograms, created from mathematical models or CAD drawings, for scientists, engineers and others who wish to visualise objects in real 3D. Its holographic products do not require special glasses or use optical tricks for viewing. Examples of hologram designs include protein structures, molecules, concept cars and medical imagery. The company is also developing a patent-pending dynamic holographic 3D display system, which is at the advanced research stage. It has completed a proof of concept demo in 2010 and is now developing a prototype. The technology is based on a screen that contains a number of spatially preencoded holographic images that can be selected individually, in combination or in sequence, using an optical switching matrix. Sequencing through the holographic images smoothly creates the perception of a moving holographic scene. Holoxica’s dynamic holographic display technology has undergone several years of research and development, resulting in a first-generation proof of concept demonstrator, which is the basis for the company’s second-generation prototype.
These developments are not yet amenable to high-volume production, so the company is looking for ways of manufacturing the holographic screen, the key component, using semiconductor fabrication techniques that could then lead to mass production using embossing production processes. Embossing is used to make low-cost, high-volume holograms, such as those commonly found on credit cards. Now, with funding support from the Scottish Optoelectronics Association’s Technology Transfer Opportunity
Mechanism (TTOM) scheme, Holoxica has been able to call on the University’s expertise in this area, through Dr Will Hossack in the School of Physics and Professor Ian Underwood in the School of Engineering. The University has given Holoxica access to its leading-edge spatial light modulator technology, advised on computer-generated holography and provided fast computer facilities for hologram generation and modelling work. This has enabled Holoxica to develop
Left to right: Will Hossack, Javid Khan and Ian Underwood pictured in Holoxica’s lab at the Scottish Microelectronics Centre. Inset pictures © Holoxica Ltd
a series of custom tools and algorithms running on supercomputers that can help the company design third-generation holograms for eventual fabrication using semiconductor manufacturing techniques. The company has been housed within an incubator unit at the Scottish Microelectronics Centre, where the existing semiconductor manufacturing toolset and expertise has been utilised to produce prototype holographic devices.
Javid Khan, Managing Director of Holoxica, said: “The project delivered on its promises and has led to other projects and more funding from other sources. It has deepened and strengthened our relationships with other schools within the University. It has given us the confidence to raise more finance from private investors and has led to the creation of jobs for graduates of the University.”
“The project delivered on its promises and has led to other projects and more funding from other sources” 39
success in numbers
The last five years has seen the University help commercialise a huge amount of intellectual property, as well as build up impressive links with industry... industry links
2006-07 ∂ 406
2007-08 ∂ 385
2008-09 ∂ 396 2009-10 ∂ 469
2010-11 ∂ 500
new inventions reported 2006-07 ∂ 120 2007-08 ∂ 121
2008-09 ∂ 215
2009-10 ∂ 150 2010-11 ∂ 155
PATENts filed 2006-07 ∂ 77 2007-08 ∂ 82
2008-09 ∂ 89
2010-11 ∂ 79
2009-10 ∂ 111
2006-07 ∂ 66
2007-08 ∂ 47 2008-09 ∂ 38
new companies formed
2009-10 ∂ 75 2010-11 ∂ 65
2006-07 ∂ 16 2007-08 ∂ 26 2008-09 ∂ 26
2009-10 ∂ 40
2010-11 ∂ 35
Edinburgh Research and Innovation Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary company of the University of Edinburgh. Registered in Scotland No. SC148048. Registered Office at Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh EH8 9YL The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, with registration number SC005336