Issuu on Google+

Collaborate Industrial Studentships offer a fresh perspective for technical challenges facing organisations. P17

Engage Knowledge exchange initiatives are delivering impact through industry engagement. P32

The Annual Review of Research and Commercialisation at The University of Edinburgh

Eight Great Technologies

How we are actively translating Edinburgh’s expertise into industrial and economic impact. P08

Ahead of his time

Professor Sir Kenneth Murray: A pioneer who was ahead of his time. P28

Mobile Innovation Putting the smart into smartphones. P30

Innovate Innovation scheme helps businesses tap into the University’s academic expertise. P37

Launch Edinburgh offers the most comprehensive range of support to help entrepreneurs launch new companies. P34

ISSUE12 AUTUMN2013


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contents Upfront

04 First word 05 Perspective 06 News

Eight great technologies:

08 The big data revolution and energy-efficient computing 10 Satellites and commercial applications of space 12 Robotics and autonomous systems 14 Where dry meets wet – life sciences, genomics and synthetic biology

Fresh thinking

17 Industrial studentships

Eight great technologies:

18 Regenerative medicine 20 Agri-science 22 Advanced materials and nano-technology 24 Energy and its storage

Robotics:

4

Professor Sethu Vijayakumar is a leading researcher in robotics and AI

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Child-proof technology

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26 Developing technology for early years learning 27 CBBC connects with Peekabu

Ahead of his time 28 Professor Sir Kenneth Murray

Mobile innovation

30 Putting the ‘smart’ into smartphones

Sparking impact

32 Delivering knowledge exchange impact

Enterprising spirit 34 Enterprising spirit 36 The life of an enterprise intern

Innovation for business

37 Innovation scheme helps business

Success in numbers 40 Ideas at work

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Satellites:

Edinburgh is using satellite data to map deforestation and degradation

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Infinite Magazine

The Infinite Magazine is published annually by Edinburgh Research and Innovation Ltd, the research commercialisation arm of the University of Edinburgh. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the prior written consent of the publishers. The views expressed are those of Edinburgh Research and Innovation Ltd and the

contributors and do not necessarily represent those of the University of Edinburgh.

Digital Edition: The latest issue of the Infinite Magazine is available in digital format for online download at www.infinitemagazine.info This publication is also available in alternative formats on request. Please submit any request by email to research.innovation@ ed.ac.uk

Editor: Alex Proudfoot, Marketing Manager

Contrubutors: Kevin Dorrian, Acumen PR (www.acumen-pr.com) Tom Robbins

Design: Hookson Ltd (www.hookson.com)


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CONTENTS

Enterprise:

Helen Fisher won the LAUNCH.ed Innovation Cup 2013

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30 Smartphone:

Edinburgh technology is behind some of the latest smartphone advances

Childproof:

Professor Lydia Plowman is a key authority on technology for early years learning

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Photography:

On the Move?

Printing:

Unless specified, images are copyright Š Peter Tuffy Photography. All rights reserved.

If you have changed address, or no longer wish to receive a copy of the Infinite Magazine, please let us know by sending an email to research.innovation@ed.ac.uk

Allander

Cover photograph: Close up of a micro-column connected to a SynthSys mass spectrometer

The magazine is printed on environmentally friendly, carbon-balanced paper that has been accredited by the Forestry Stewardship Council.

For more information: To find out more about research, innovation and enterprise at the University of Edinburgh, visit the Edinburgh Research and Innovation website www.research-innovation.ed.ac.uk When you have finished with this magazine please recycle it.


04 FIRST WORD

First Word Michael Russell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning I am very pleased to have been invited to welcome readers to this latest issue of Infinite magazine. As readers will know, Edinburgh Research and Innovation (ERI) is a leading example of how innovative, strong and productive relationships with businesses ensure that the world-class research output of our universities is fully realised and recognised. The reason this Government continues to invest in universities and research is because we recognise that doing so is investing in the economy and in opportunity. The key to our success is the ability to build on existing strengths and linking our research base with business. This creates a sustainable platform for new jobs, economic growth and reinforces our international reputation. This year Edinburgh was one of the institutions to share almost £14 million distributed between our universities to support research excellence. I know that the benefits of our research go far beyond business, and our leading thinkers will continue to influence activity across a whole raft of areas from medicine to arts and culture. As we focus on supporting the economic recovery though, the need to improve and exploit links between academia and business has never been more vital. Many of our recent successes in Scotland have been based on a collaborative approach that has been evident through both the development of the research pools and the creation of the Innovation Centres (IC). These have relied on

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both our universities and our key business sectors working together to advance thinking and ensure that our research translates into social and economic benefits. Innovation Centres will be sustainable communities of universities, business and others from Scotland’s leading business sectors. The IC programme represents a novel approach to linking indigenous and international businesses with Scottish universities on a national scale. They will provide solutions to the demandled problems facing industry in Scotland by supporting innovation for future growth. Edinburgh, as always, plays a significant role in such initiatives and the commitment to such collegiate ways of working is perfectly reflected in the work of ERI. ERI has supported entrepreneurship through LAUNCH.ed, and continues to develop pioneering ways to allow industry and entrepreneurs to access technology developed by the University through initiatives such as Open Technology and ‘University Technology – Invented in Scotland’. This edition of Infinite, as always, highlights a number innovative and exciting examples of how the University of Edinburgh and ERI are continuing to meet the challenges of commercialising research, which I hope will be an inspiration to others on how they might address these issues in the future.


05 PERSPECTIVE

Perspective Derek Waddell, Chief Executive Officer, Edinburgh Research and Innovation

As a UK leader in commercialising research and the promotion of entrepreneurship, Edinburgh Research and Innovation (ERI) has been delivering economic impact to the University of Edinburgh and the UK for over 40 years. This was evidenced in the economic impact report that was produced by an independent economic consultancy in 2012. In the past 12 months, we have continued our work to build extensive links with industry to enable the translation of the University’s world-class research, through collaborations on both research and consultancy projects, licensing of our intellectual property and encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit within the University’s staff and students to start their own businesses. Despite the general economic gloom, we have maintained high levels of success, having worked with over 500 companies this year for the third year in a row (and nearly 2,400 over five years). These companies (from local SMEs to international multinational organisations) have all recognised the benefits of working with ERI to tap into the expertise and facilities that are available at the University. We have also continued our rich vein of entrepreneurial success by facilitating the creation of another 35 new businesses by University staff and students, to increase our five year total to 171 companies. We wish these new companies every success in the future and look forward to seeing them grow to become valuable contributors to both the Scottish and UK economies. Our ability to encourage industrial impact from university research was recognised by the BBSRC this year when ERI’s Business Development team won their inaugural Activating Impact Competition 2013 against

tough competition from the UK’s leading universities. The prize, plus additional funding from the BBSRC, will enable ERI to establish new initiatives that will increase the commercialisation of bioscience research at the University of Edinburgh. I hope that you find this year’s issue of Infinite both enlightening and encouraging, and should you wish any additional information on any of the articles featured in the magazine, please contact either myself or the contacts highlighted against the article.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? GET IN TOUCH WITH... Derek Waddell Chief Executive Officer E: derek.waddell@ed.ac.uk

EDINBURGH’S 35 NEW ENTERPRISES 2012-13 2Behave Ltd Ahoy Animation Alaska Publishing Aquila BioMedical Ltd Black Metal Brewing Ltd CaddieCharger Carbomap Ltd Confbuzz Coolgenics Ltd Drone Deploy E & N Consulting Fourth World Art Ltd Furniture by Numbers Ltd Grotank Ltd Helen Fisher Design Ltd IC Mobile Lab Ltd JGM Software Landward Library Ltd

Limerisk Makexist Ltd Minerva Design MVG Forestry Research Obsidian Enterprises Ltd Pharmatics Ltd Quorate Technology Ltd RedGecko Consulting Royal Mile Translations Ltd Scholarly Ltd Sofant Technologies Ltd Thinkfresh Ltd Three Wise Monkeys Climbing Ltd Two Big Ears Ltd Yolicious Designs Your New Crew Your Taxi Meter

www.research-innovation.ed.ac.uk


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Android app snapp!ed up at Edinburgh Fringe Festival A University of Edinburgh spin-out company transformed the mobile experience of thousands of visitors who flocked to Edinburgh’s Festival this summer. sensewhere Ltd launched snapp!ed, an enhanced version of a free Android indoor location app the company launched last year, with social mapping to display directions to all Festival venues and Edinburgh landmarks.

‘shout-outs’, across those platforms with an unprecedented level of indoor accuracy and allow friends to locate and track movement. It can also be used throughout the year as a social map of Edinburgh and the University Campus.

Crucially, snapp!ed allows users to view their friends’ updates in a geographical context across the city, issuing accurate geo-tagged updates from inside the hundreds of venues hosting the Festival events.

sensewhere’s world-leading indoor location technology was originally developed at the University’s School of Engineering and licensed through Edinburgh Research and Innovation to the new spin-out company.

The app has the added option to share users’ experiences from one dashboard integrating Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare. This means users can quickly post geo-tagged

Rob Palfreyman, CEO of sensewhere Ltd, said: “The company believes there are more opportunities within indoor locations, provided the technology

The company believes there are more opportunities within indoor locations, provided the technology exists to deliver an optimum quality of service.

exists to deliver an optimum quality of service. sensewhere overcomes these technical challenges of indoor positioning by ‘automatic crowdsourcing’ and referencing all available local wireless access points to provide a dynamic database of hyper-local positioning information to the user, which enhances the user experience indoors.”

WANT TO KNOW MORE? GO ONLINE TO... W: www.sensewhere.com

Using our marbles to find new ways to innovate In March 2013, Edinburgh Research and Innovation (ERI) joined forces for the first time with Marblar, the ambitious crowdsourcing platform which helps universities find new partners interested in creating fresh opportunities for its intellectual property assets. Marblar offered the University inventors of BioLayout Express3D, a software programme for the analysis and visualisation of complex data that was developed at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, the unique opportunity to tap into the creative minds of Marblar’s global community of scientists and innovators to

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leverage other applications requiring visualisation of ‘big data’. The Marblar challenge resulted in submissions suggesting new applications for this technology and was eventually won by Manosij Majumdar, a Canadian trainee engineer, who realised that the software’s capabilities of simulating the complex interactions in biological pathways also translates to the valves, pipes and reactors of the hugely complicated process plants he deals with in his industry sector. The BioLayout Express3D software developers were most impressed

with the creative way their tool was connected to a completely new field that they had never considered entering. This also marked Marblar’s first foray into uncovering fresh opportunities for software technologies. Gabriel Mecklenberg, co-founder of Marblar commented: “Together with ERI, we’ll be creating Marblar science competitions around several technologies from the University of Edinburgh in the coming months – leveraging a global community to find new market opportunities for these discoveries.”

WANT TO KNOW MORE? GO ONLINE TO... W: www.marblar.com


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The University of Edinburgh is leading a £11 million project over the next five years to create a new fibre optic-based probe to revolutionise respiratory medicine through dramatically improving the ability to accurately diagnose, monitor and treat lung disease. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded research collaboration brings together an inter-disciplinary team of physicists, chemists, engineers, computer experts and clinicians from the Universities of Edinburgh, Bath and HeriotWatt, led by the University, using advanced fibre optic, chemistry, microelectronics and computer intelligence technology. Industrial partners will be integral to the project and participate in the development of this new optical sensing and imaging instrument.

‘smart reagents’ that allows analysis of the molecular signatures of disease. The signals from these compounds will be converted into easily understood computer readouts in real-time, without the need for cumbersome equipment or ionizing radiation. Professor Mark Bradley, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Chemistry who leads the project said: “This new tool will give doctors the ability to rapidly diagnose patients and inform them about the best drugs for patients.”

Industrial partners will be integral to the project PHOTOS:

Along with measuring oxygen, acidity and glucose levels in the patient’s blood and lungs, the device will deliver and detect

Prof. Mark Bradley School of Chemistry

Images from EIE’13 conference copyright © Jo Hanley Photography

This new tool will give doctors the ability to rapidly diagnose patients and inform them about the best drugs for patients

University companies at EIE13

This year’s EIE13 (Engage | Invest | Exploit) conference by Informatics Ventures was the biggest in its six year history, with 60 entrepreneurial Scottish companies across the informatics, computer science, energy and life science sectors exhibiting to raise investment and form partnerships with over 130 potential investors who attended what has become Scotland’s flagship investor event.

According to Nick Rankin, CEO of Quorate Technology: “Quorate was lucky enough to have been invited to present at EIE 13 and, undoubtedly, we benefited hugely from the entire experience. Since the event, Quorate has been following up with a number of interested parties and we are now looking forward to further building upon this momentum at the inaugural London event in November.”

EIE has become Scotland’s flagship investor event

Find out more about the EIE event in London at www.eie-london.com

University of Edinburgh spin-out companies DestiNA Genomics Ltd and Quorate Technology Ltd, as well as start-up Peekabu Studios Ltd, were among the 16 technology companies selected to pitch their business ideas to a panel of investors. In addition, University spin-out/ start-ups Carbomap Ltd, Feusd Ltd, Flexpansion Ltd, MediCen Devise Ltd, Musemantik Ltd, pureVLC Ltd, SESMOS Ltd and Speech Graphics Ltd also exhibited at the event.

www.research-innovation.ed.ac.uk

INFINITE NEWS

New optical probe to revolutionise healthcare diagnosis


08 EIGHT GREAT TECHNOLOGIES 01

In 2013, Rt. Hon. David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, published a paper highlighting the eight great technologies that can make a major contribution to the UK economy. This feature demonstrates the University of Edinburgh’s research capability in each of these areas and how we are actively translating this expertise into industrial and economic impact.

The Big Data Revolution and Energy-Efficient Computing Since the internet boom, society has become increasingly driven by the creation and consumption of data. IBM estimates that 2.5 quintillion (that’s 1018) bytes of data are generated globally every day, with 90 per cent of the world’s data having been created in the last two years. Data is now recognised as a major source of competitive advantage for all sectors in the economy, and has been the subject of UK government policy and major research initiatives in areas as diverse as healthcare, smart cities, agriculture and the digital economy. Researchers in the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics have been pushing the boundaries of data analytics for some time now and their work over the last decade has anticipated both the ubiquity and the utility of big data. One area where their research has already had worldwide impact is in helping humans understand languages they don’t speak. This challenge is getting bigger. In 2009, 37 languages were required to reach 98 per cent of people who were online. To reach the same percentage in 2012, 48 languages were needed. The solution, of course,

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is translation, but the era of big data demands a scalable solution. Enter the data scientists with Statistical Machine Translation! Machine translation Statistical machine translation (SMT) starts with a very big dataset of ‘good’ translations; these are typically taken from parallel corpora of texts, which have been manually translated into multiple languages, such as the European Parliament records of its proceedings. Using this data, systems can be trained to map out the correspondences between words and phrases in pairs of languages. These mappings are then stored and can be used in future translations. The work carried out at Edinburgh has led to the development of Moses, the dominant open-source toolkit for building SMT systems. Moses started in 2005 as a research project in the School of Informatics. With European funding under the Euromatrix project, it has grown over the last seven years into the standard machine translation platform used by researchers across the globe. Today, Moses is one of the most widely adopted machine translation toolkits in industry. Its maturity and

quality, as well as its liberal opensource license, mean that it is often preferred over proprietary systems and its ‘DNA’ can also be traced in most proprietary systems.

Moses has been an important development for the machine translation sector because companies can build custom MT engines without rewriting the translation engine

A new European funded project (MosesCore) was established in 2012 to help support the ongoing development, distribution and commercial uptake of Moses. Dr Barry Haddow, from the Machine Translation Group in Informatics commented: “Up until recently, Moses has been very much a researchfocused project. Now we have the resources to make Moses more professional, more user-friendly, with better documentation and support.” TAUS, the innovation thinktank and interoperability watchdog for the translation industry, recently stated in their Translation Technology Landscape Report 2013: “Moses has been an important development for the machine translation sector because companies can build custom MT engines without rewriting the translation engine. Moses has enabled many companies to launch custom machine translation offerings with a modest effort.”


Left to right: Dr Barry Haddow, Professor Philipp Koehn and Dr Hieu Hoang from the School of Informatics

bonjour

hola

hello

merhaba

chào

përshëndetje

WANT TO KNOW MORE? GET IN TOUCH WITH... David Richardson School of Informatics E: djcr@ed.ac.uk

Harnessing Moses’ power These days, big data has been harnessed to let you solve your own ‘Tower of Babel’ problems on the web or via your mobile device, through services like Google Translate (71 languages) or Bing Translator (43 languages). However, there is a large and growing worldwide ecosystem of companies and organisations providing general or specialised machine translation based on Moses. One such company is Capita plc. Their Translation and Interpreting division, Capita TI, have developed SmartMATE™, which is built using the Moses platform and is fully customisable for their clients.

SmartMATE is capable of processing millions of words per day, providing content that can then be post-edited by human translators. Through the use of SMT, Capita states that a human translator can increase productivity from translating 2000 words to post-editing over 5000 words per day. The solution works in over 40 different languages, ranging from Albanian to Vietnamese, and is often used by clients to help translate customer enquiries, webpages or user generated content. Dr Jie Jiang, Senior Language Technology Specialist at Capita, comments: “Capita TI has kept in close contact with the Moses

The solution works in over 40 different languages, ranging from Albanian to Vietnamese, and is often used by clients to help translate customer enquiries, webpages or user generated content

project since 2007 and has been looking at ways to apply the technology commercially for the past six years. By 2010 we felt that the market was mature enough, and the time was right, for the technology to be put to use. The Moses technology is now central to the back-end of our SmartMATE platform, through which we can process billions of words per year for some of the world’s biggest organisations in sectors, including banking, finance, construction and manufacturing. “We are committed to feeding our findings back to the Moses user community and are actively involved in the improvement and development of the technology.”

www.research-innovation.ed.ac.uk

THE BIG DATA REVOLUTION AND ENERGY-EFFICIENT COMPUTING

PHOTO:

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10 EIGHT GREAT TECHNOLOGIES 02

Satellites and Commercial Applications of Space Satellites have the unique capability to acquire complete and consistent data of the globe at a variety of scales and levels of detail. This data can provide information on numerous global environmental issues. Hence, satellite-based Earth observation is becoming increasingly recognised as the optimum technological approach to the monitoring and understanding of some of the major global environmental issues now facing humanity. The University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences is a leading centre for the development of downstream applications for satellite data and defining science and instrument requirements. Applications are focused on global forests, the cryosphere and the atmosphere. A linking theme across all areas is in the understanding of the carbon cycle and the effects of global environmental change. Encouraging reductions in deforestation Almost one quarter of the world’s population (1.4 billion people) rely on forests for a major part of their livelihood. Forests cover 30 per cent of the Earth’s land surface. However, deforestation and degradation of these forests is occurring at a rapid rate across great swaths of the world.

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The significance of the felling of these forests cannot be overstated; this activity alone is responsible for some 10-15 per cent of the world’s anthropogenic CO2 emissions. A reduction in deforestation not only reduces CO2 emissions; it has the potential benefit of creating economic value for living forests within the forest carbon market. In 20092010, the market for measuring deforestation and forest degradation was worth an estimated £6.24 billion and rising at 15 per cent per year. Therefore, an economic argument exists for monitoring deforestation, in addition to the environmental case for conservation. The United Nations recognises the benefits of reducing deforestation and recently implemented a new, multi-

million pound strategy for reducing deforestation in developing countries.

Applications are focused on global forests, the cryosphere and the atmosphere. A linking theme across all areas is in the understanding of the carbon cycle and the effects of global environmental change.

The REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) programme aims to offer financial incentives to the governments of such countries to maintain or enhance their forest resources. It will spawn new and growing markets for satellite-based products and services, to support the growing demand for forest certification. This, in turn, will lead to opportunities for UK businesses who can offer such services and technologies. The University is working with a number of businesses, which include LTS International Ltd, Ecometrica Ltd, Global Surface Intelligence Ltd and Carbomap Ltd, to help them access these new opportunities.

PHOTOS: 01 Professor Mat Williams (left) and Dr Ed Mitchard (right) from the School of GeoSciences 02 TerraSAR-X Radar Satellite © Astrium


The University’s on-going relationship with Edinburgh-based LTS International Ltd provides an example of how its expertise in this area is being translated into industry. The company’s environmentallyfriendly and sustainable solutions to tackle climate change are directly linked with forest changes in the developing countries. In particular, the effect of deforestation and forest degradation in African woodland countries, such as Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, on the carbon cycle and global climate change has become a major topic of discussion worldwide. Therefore, suitable carbon monitoring and measuring techniques are required.

The main advantages of such techniques are the weather condition independency of the sensor (i.e. cloud-free images) and the highsensitivity of long wavelength RADAR antenna to ‘above ground biomass’ elements (stems and branches rather than foliage), allowing for an automated estimation.

The current Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project, supervised by Dr Casey Ryan, involves the development of a forest biomass monitoring tool, based on active remote sensing data, in combination with field inventory, to detect and quantify forest changes, i.e. deforestation and forest degradation, in woodland forest ecosystems.

Paddy Abbott, CEO of LTS International, commented: “This collaborative partnership between the University of Edinburgh and LTS is very promising and is expected to support LTS International’s business towards an increase in expertise and independency regarding sustainable management of forestry for reducing carbon emissions.”

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Radar data for cloudy countries The University is also working with the Japanese space research agency (JAXA) to investigate how radar data from the Japanese Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) can be better used to understand the forest carbon cycle, forest biomass, and how we best apply these techniques to the REDD initiative. Three leading researchers (Professor Mat Williams, Dr Casey Ryan, and Dr Ed Mitchard) have been mapping changes in forest biomass (due to regrowth and deforestation) using radar data of field sites in Cameroon, Gabon, Uganda, Mozambique and Tanzania. Since all of these countries are frequently cloud-covered, the governments involved are particularly

WANT TO KNOW MORE? GET IN TOUCH WITH... Stuart Simmons School of GeoSciences E: stuart.simmons@ed.ac.uk

interested in using radar data to map deforestation and degradation. The researchers at Edinburgh were the first to publish results showing that degradation could be successfully quantified using radar data, something that is not normally possible with conventional optical data. There is an increasing understanding that forest degradation could be very widespread, especially in Africa, and so monitoring it will be essential for REDD to succeed. All three researchers have recently won new data agreements from JAXA, giving them access to archive data and also to new data from the ALOS-2 satellite, which will be launched in early 2014.

01 www.research-innovation.ed.ac.uk

SATELLITES AND COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS OF SPACE

Developing new satellite-based products

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12 EIGHT GREAT TECHNOLOGIES 03

Robotics and Autonomous Systems Imagine a time in the not too distant future when robots, like humans, can achieve complex dynamic tasks, exploiting episodic memory, predictive planning and optimal use of their various functioning parts; a time when such robust and versatile robots can adapt to changes in their environments, learn and re-learn and make appropriately informed decisions. The Institute of Perception, Action and Behaviour (IPAB) in the University’s School of Informatics was formed in 1998 to address some of these fundamental questions in Robotics and Automation and, in doing so, help to ‘revolutionise our economy and society over the next twenty years’. IPAB’s Director, Professor Sethu Vijayakumar, a leading academic in the field of robotics and artificial intelligence, is convinced that robotics is already having a real and tangible impact on people’s lives. Increasingly they are working for us, beside us, assisting us and interacting with us in sectors such as oil & gas, defence, marine, renewable energy, healthcare, space, education and digital media to name but a few. Under his direction, IPAB aims to link theory to practice in all the key aspects of robotics and automation, from robots that mimic human actions to how they perceive and control their environment and each other. IPAB’s multidisciplinary approach, combined with strong working relationships with international industrial partners, means it has the potential to become a major international force for the creation of talented, industry-ready graduates and world class researchers, as well

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as drawing overseas resources and talent to the UK.

Professor Vijayakumar commented: “The new Centre is a unique alliance between the two Universities to unify and expand our world leading expertise and potential in robot learning and multimodal interaction. It will house state of the art humanoid robots, immersive and sensorised workspaces, co-worker and field robots and facilities for prosthetics research and testing. This represents a unique suite of world class facilities covering underwater, on land and indoor robots capable of close and coordinated interaction with humans and the environment.

The new Centre is a unique alliance between the two Universities It is this ambition that lay at the core of IPAB’s efforts, in association with Heriot-Watt University, to establish a state-of-the-art robotics research facility in Edinburgh. In July 2013, a £6.1 million award from the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council was formally announced by David Willetts, UK Minister for Universities and Science. This represents the largest single government investment in robotics and autonomous systems in the UK.

The centre, known as Robotarium, has a bold vision that can encompass the full spectrum of connected and overlapping autonomy and robotics disciplines thanks to the unique and significant critical mass of internationally excellent research talent located in Edinburgh.

PHOTOS: 01 A softballpitching robot arm developed in the School of Informatics © Sethu Vijayakumar 02 Touch Bionics’ i-LIMB hand © Sethu Vijayakumar 03 Professor Sethu Vijayakumar, Director of the Institute of Perception, Action and Behaviour


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ROBOTICS AND AUTONOMOUS SYSTEMS

WANT TO KNOW MORE? GET IN TOUCH WITH...

Getting a grip on bionic hands In 2003, Touch Bionics (as Touch EMAS - Edinburgh Modular Arm System) became the first company to spin out of the National Health Service in the UK. By 2007, Touch Bionics had created the i-LIMB Hand™, the world’s first powered prosthetic hand with five articulating fingers. The company have since released several new generations of the hand to the market, manufacturing at least 4,000 hands in that period, as well as creating a powered prosthetic solution for partial hands, with over 300 patients fitted to date. The involvement of the University of Edinburgh’s IPAB with Touch Bionics dates back to 2009 with a short Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) to integrate an artificial sensory feedback system with the company’s i-LIMB Hand™, restoring the hitherto

devoid sense of touch to amputees’ prosthetic hands. As a result of this close collaboration, Touch Bionics filed a joint patent with the University around the feedback mechanisms for artificial limb control; a codevelopment outcome with longer term value to the business. In the period since the completion of the KTP, IPAB and Touch Bionics have worked closely together, in areas such as joint PhD supervision, and have carried out several extremely successful outreach events, including involvement with the Edinburgh International Science Festival. Professor Vijayakumar sees tremendous potential in the new research strands that they are developing with Touch, including novel ways of classifying and

Steve Ewing School of Informatics E: steve.ewing@ed.ac.uk

predicting grip style from EMG data to further increase responsiveness and naturalness of the world leading upper limb prosthetic product.

We wholeheartedly supported the proposal to create a unique robotics hub in Scotland and now, with the successful outcome, look forward to closer engagement with IPAB in the coming months and years

Fast-forward to 2013 and Touch Bionics’ strong support of Edinburgh’s successful bid to establish the robotics research facility. CTO Hugh Gill stated: “We now have a history of working together and were excited to hear about the joint bid by the School of Informatics with HWU. We believe this will bring significant critical mass, expertise and engagement with local SMEs and other significant industrial partners. We wholeheartedly supported the proposal to create a unique robotics hub in Scotland and now, with the successful outcome, look forward to closer engagement with IPAB in the coming months and years.”

www.research-innovation.ed.ac.uk


14 EIGHT GREAT TECHNOLOGIES 04

Where Dry Meets Wet – Life Sciences, Genomics and Synthetic Biology The life sciences are being transformed by technologies that enable us to rapidly and efficiently identify and characterise all of the genes, proteins and effector molecules that control life. Where biologists once studied a single gene or protein at a time, now whole pathways and cells are studied simultaneously. The term ‘omics’ refers to this systematic ‘whole system’ based approach and scientists at the University of Edinburgh are able to take full advantage of the excellent facilities and equipment, which has created an exciting environment in which research in these areas can flourish. Edinburgh Genomics operates a number of next generation sequencing facilities within the University. These deliver over 80 per cent of Scotland’s raw genomics data at present and are leading the way in bioinformatics analysis for research teams in medical, agricultural, environmental and synthetic genomics. Proteomics, the study of structure, function and regulation of proteins within biological systems, is another significant research strength at the University. Mass Spectrometry is a key technique for proteomic research and the University has excellent facilities and a number of eminent research groups operating in this area, including the labs of Professor Juri Rappsilber and Dr Thierry Le Bihan.

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State-of-the-art facilities such as the Protein Production Facility enable the expression, production and purification of proteins. These technologies create huge volumes of data and the visualisation, annotation and interrogation of these data sets is a significant challenge. University researchers are developing innovative software tools to make sense of this data deluge such as BioLayout Express 3D, a powerful tool for visualizing and analysing large networks, and GeneProf, a software program for analysing and interpreting sequencing data. Synthetic biology is an emerging discipline that seeks to use engineering principles to design and

Dr Ian Fotheringham Ingenza Ltd

build efficient biological systems and devices to carry out new processes. Edinburgh is home to SynthSys, the Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology. A key strength of the Centre is the multidisciplinary nature of its membership including biologists, mathematicians, chemists, engineers, computational modellers, physicists and social scientists. Research aims to extend our understanding of genetic and chemical regulation in biological systems and to use this to solve challenges facing industrial biotechnology, clinical medicine and agriculture and, therefore, limit climate change.

The expertise in lignin biology within Louise’s group, combined with Ingenza’s strain improvement and bioprocess know-how creates synergy critical to the success of this synthetic biology project

PHOTOS: 01 Close up of a micro-column connected to a SynthSys mass spectrometer 02 Lorraine Kerr from the Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology


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WHERE DRY MEETS WET

WANT TO KNOW MORE? GET IN TOUCH WITH... Shona Cunningham School of Biological Sciences E: shona.cunningham@ed.ac.uk

Synthetic promoters for biopharmaceuticals Dr Lorraine Kerr is working on a Technology Strategy Board funded collaborative project with two local SMEs, Synpromics Ltd and Genabler Ltd. The project aims to develop synthetic genetic promoters that will drive high levels of gene expression in mammalian cell lines. Many currently marketed drugs, like the breast cancer agent Herceptin®, are proteins and they are manufactured from mammalian cell lines. It is hoped that these optimised ‘switches’ can enhance the levels of proteins produced in these cells thereby increasing production yields for these important biopharmaceuticals.

The project aims to develop synthetic genetic promoters that will drive high levels of gene expression in mammalian cell lines.

Dr Michael L Roberts, Synpromics’s CEO, commented: “The project will bring together Synpromics’s innovations in synthetic promoter design, Genabler’s technology platform for controlled and efficient DNA assembly, and SynthSys’s leading expertise in robotics and systems biology. “The combination of these technologies is expected not only to deliver synthetic promoters that can drive higher expression levels for biologics manufacturing and drug discovery applications, but also to generate a novel and more efficient means of synthetic promoter construction with broader uses across the biotech spectrum.”

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STORY CONTINUES OVERLEAF

www.research-innovation.ed.ac.uk


16 WHERE DRY MEETS WET

Finding a natural solution Dr Louise Horsfall and local SME partner, Ingenza Ltd, are collaborating on a Technology Strategy Board funded project to engineer microbes to breakdown lignin (the woody waste part of plants) into useful aromatic feedstocks, a form of chemical building block.

PHOTO: Dr Louise Horsfall from the School of Biological Sciences

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These chemicals are currently obtained from oil refining and used in many processes, including the manufacture of plastics, detergents, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, paints and synthetic fibres. However, with increasing global demand

for scarce petrochemical stocks, alternative sources of these compounds will be needed. Using plants as a carbon commodity rather than the fossilized carbon stores would potentially reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and, therefore, limit climate change. This project seeks to identify key enzymes from a diverse range of symbiotic bacteria and fungi, which are capable of breaking down lignin, and produce them within just a few engineered species - thereby intensifying and industrialising the natural process of lignin

breakdown and enabling access to a renewable source of aromatic chemicals. This project seeks to identify key enzymes from a diverse range of symbiotic bacteria and fungi, which are capable of breaking down lignin, and produce them within just a few engineered species

Dr Ian Fotheringham of Ingenza commented: “The expertise in lignin biology within Louise’s group, combined with Ingenza’s strain improvement and bioprocess know-how creates synergy critical to the success of this synthetic biology project. Coupled to Ingenza’s relationships with raw material providers and potential end-users we see an excellent route to derive high value for the UK from this collaboration.”


17 FRESH THINKING

Fresh Thinking Industrial Studentships offer a fresh perspective for technical challenges facing organisations.

experience in providing worldbeating products and services to the global power sector and is a recognised industry leader in the field of power system dynamics and wide-area monitoring systems.

Studentships have proven to be a successful route for many organisations to engage with universities, providing a unique source of innovation and a cost effective means to tackle longer term strategic objectives. With an outstanding reputation for the quality of its research and state-of-the-art facilities, many companies have already taken advantage of studentship opportunities to work with the University of Edinburgh. There is no better place to engage with world class academic expertise than Edinburgh, whose studentship programme is highly regarded and respected throughout industry across the globe.

There is no better place to engage with world class academic expertise than Edinburgh, whose studentship programme is highly regarded and respected throughout industry across the globe.

A sponsored studentship at Edinburgh provides you with access to a high calibre graduate engaged in postgraduate research in a field relevant to your business needs. They will undertake a focussed research project that is agreed between you and the lead academic supervisor. The studentship, which can last up to four years, can provide a significant overview of the current theory associated with your project area and also look to develop solutions to meet the challenges faced.

Psymetrix set up an EPSRC CASE Studentship through the University’s Institute for Energy Systems in 2006. The project aimed to develop stability diagnostic methods that could be used in an online wide-area monitoring system to enable power system operators to improve the response to stability problems. The postgraduate student assigned to the project, Patrick McNabb, produced a very successful PhD thesis based on the project. The results of his research impressed the company so much that they are now being used commercially by the company. In addition, the company employed Patrick as a research and development engineer. Patrick also works on consulting projects with Psymetrix clients, applying his specialist knowledge to specific practical problems. Dr Sasa Djokic, whose research interests very much overlap with those of Psymetrix, continues to work with the company, which has led to another PhD studentship, funded through the Energy Technology Partnership, on a project looking into ‘modelling and management of distribution networks using high-resolution synchronised measurements’.

From PhD to employee A studentship with Edinburgh-based Psymetrix Ltd illustrates how a studentship can make a significant impact on a company and lead to a long and successful research relationship.

PHOTO:

Psymetrix, now part of the Alstom group, has over fifteen years

Iceland control centre © 2013 Landsnet

Dr Douglas Wilson, Chief Technical Officer at Psymetrix, commented: “The partnership with the University

has been very fruitful, allowing us to follow up research areas in a depth and perspective that is not easily achieved in other ways. As well as the quality and relevance of the research, we value the skill and enthusiasm that Patrick has brought to the company, through the course of his studentship and subsequent work in my team.”

WHY IS A STUDENTSHIP WORTH SPONSORING? The cost is significantly lower than directly employing research staff Access to current thinking and insight of academics at forefront of their field Exposure to emerging/ disruptive technologies, processes and techniques Opportunity to innovate using intellectual property created during the project Access to new graduate talent, to meet future recruitment requirements

www.research-innovation.ed.ac.uk


18 EIGHT GREAT TECHNOLOGIES 05

WANT TO KNOW MORE? FIND OUT ONLINE... MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine W: www.crm.ed.ac.uk

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Regenerative Regenerative Medicine has the potential to play a significant role in our future healthcare provisions, and the University of Edinburgh has invested significantly to ensure that it is a world leader in this field.

The University continues to pursue excellence through its MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine (CRM), bringing together basic stem cell research expertise with clinicians and a co-localised cellular therapy manufacturing facility. Together, these assets provide a world class capability to deliver cell therapies directly to the patient. It is this aspect of driving the research agenda towards delivering societal and economic benefit that enables the University to be a pioneer within healthcare. Stem cell breakthrough In the past few years, scientists at the CRM have taken a vital step forward in understanding how cells from skin tissue can be reprogrammed to become stem cells. This new research could pave the way to generate these stem cells efficiently to better understand and

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develop treatments for diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and muscular degeneration.

Researchers believe this new insight will enable them to streamline the stem cell production process Scientists found the process by which induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are created is not simply a reversal of how skin cells are generated in normal human development. Researchers believe this new insight will enable them to streamline the stem cell production process and may shed light on how

to create different cell types – like muscle or brain cells – that can be used to improve our understanding of diseases and treatment. CRM scientist Dr Keisuke Kaji said: “Using a new technique, we have improved our understanding of the process. Our work marks an exciting step towards ensuring that induced pluripotent stem cells technology will meet its full potential.” Scientists at CRM are now also able to generate cells in the laboratory that reach the gold standard required by the pharmaceutical industry to test drug safety. As a result, drug development for a range of conditions can be improved with stem cell technology to help doctors predict the safety and the effectiveness of potential treatments.

PHOTOS: 01 Dr Paul de Sousa from the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine 02 Dr Tilo Kunath from the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine


19 REGENERATIVE MEDICINE 02

Medicine

Dr Tilo Kunath provided expert advice, including quality control, banking of iPS cells, and genetic manipulation of iPS cells, to give the company the capability of manufacturing iPSCs for both academic and commercial research.

Roslin Cells The University’s MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine (CRM) cannot deliver its healthcare research agenda alone and has chosen Roslin Cells Ltd as a key strategic partner. Roslin Cells’ co-location with the University at Edinburgh BioQuarter has provided the company with the opportunity to work closely with the University on several projects. Cell therapy manufacturing facility The CRM and Roslin Cells have recently established a 10,000 ft2 state-of-the-art GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) cellular therapy manufacturing facility, which has been licensed (HFEA ,HTA and MHRA) for the development and manufacture of human cell therapy products.

Aiden Courtney CEO of Roslin Cells Ltd

This has already led to a contract with a large pharmaceutical company and has enhanced Roslin Cells’ product capabilities and opened up new markets world-wide.

This new facility is central to the development of cellular therapies within Scotland and is now uniquely positioned to manufacture a number of cell therapies for clinical trials and help realise the Scottish Government’s ambitions for regenerative medicine and cell therapies. This partnership has benefited from various government and RCUK initiatives to help knowledge exchange between the organisations. Access to research expertise A Scottish Government facilitated project provided Roslin Cells with access to research expertise in relation to making induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from adult cells.

Basing our operations at BioQuarter means that our staff are meeting University researchers on a daily basis.

Dr Tilo Kunath provided expert advice, including quality control, banking of IPS cells, and genetic manipulation of IPS cells

Academic FLIPs role with industry A two year project funded by BBSRC under the FLexible Interchange Program (FLIP) where a researcher based in Dr Paul de Sousa’s lab is funded to work on a collaboration between the University, Roslin Cells and Heriot-Watt University aimed at delivering a probe free cell separation technology to RCL, whilst offering significant personal development opportunities to the exchange individual in learning about technology transfer, product development and business processes. Aidan Courtney, CEO of Roslin Cells Ltd, stated: “Basing our operations at BioQuarter means that our staff are meeting University researchers on a daily basis. Collaborations build from the ground up with the University providing wide and deep scientific strength, which we can combine with our quality and manufacturing expertise, to deliver real innovations in regenerative medicine.”

www.research-innovation.ed.ac.uk


20 EIGHT GREAT TECHNOLOGIES 06

Agri-Science Producing sufficient food for a growing global population in a changing climate is a significant challenge, with yield increases of 40 per cent required to meet food demand by 2030 without causing a negative impact on biodiversity, water, energy and natural resources.

Innovation in agricultural science and technology is, therefore, key towards achieving sustainable food security. As home to one of the largest concentrations of plant and animal researchers in the UK, the University of Edinburgh is at the forefront of research, shaping the technologies that farmers of the future will need to meet these challenges.

Innovation in agricultural science and technology is key towards achieving sustainable food security Improving the yields we can obtain from our crops requires us to understand how plants respond and adapt to environmental cues, such as light and temperature. This is an active area of plant research at Edinburgh’s Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences. Dr Karen Halliday and her team have been studying the growth of plants at a range of geographical locations and

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have found that increasing night temperatures in autumn accelerate their growth. This discovery gives scientists valuable insight into the impact of changing climates on plants and could help the development of crop varieties suited to future environmental conditions, with high yields. In the animal sector, The Roslin Institute has been involved in many sequencing projects, such as the chicken, turkey and pig genome. This insight has underpinned further developments in the sector, for example, selecting animals with genetic traits that lead to improved feed efficiency (the number of kilos of animal feed required to produce a kilo of meat). The Institute has ongoing projects with industrial partners to improve feed efficiency in pigs and poultry, making it possible to feed more people using the same amount of land. This increased efficiency will contribute to global food security and also reduce the CO2 emissions from farming. The security of our future food supply also depends on an improved understanding of how plants and animals defend themselves against pathogen attack, so we can mitigate against future threats from diseasecausing organisms.

PHOTOS: 01 Dr Karen Halliday from the School of Biological Sciences 02 One of Roslin Institute’s farm team with PIG26, a genetically edited pig Š Norrie Russell, The Roslin Institute The Institute has ongoing projects with industrial partners to improve feed efficiency in pigs and poultry, making it possible to feed more people using the same amount of land.

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The Roslin Institute has carried out research with a group in Denmark into the genetic characteristics linked to the susceptibility of young pigs to E. coli induced diarrhoea, which is one of the four most important conditions affecting pig farmers in the UK today. The scientists were able to identify and patent a method of detecting resistance to enterotoxigenic E. coli. The patented test has since been licensed to a number of gene analysis service providers for the pig breeding industry in Europe and Australia, enabling pig breeders to use it to select animals that are not susceptible to E. coli induced diarrhoea.


21 AGRI-SCIENCE

Animal health genius The research partnership between Genus plc and The Roslin Institute, aimed at improving the sustainability of livestock production, is a prime example of how the University is actively collaborating with commercial partners to ensure that such innovations reach the market and result in an economic benefit and increased food security. Genus is a world leader in porcine, dairy and beef genetics. Their pig breeding subsidiary, PIC, has a 25 per cent share in the market of porcine genetics outside China, more than double that of its nearest competitor. Roslin began working with PIC in 1999 and, through the placement of a PIC scientist within the Institute, helped the company implement optimal contribution theory, which is a way to balance selection for desirable traits while limiting inbreeding. The theory has remained fundamental to their breeding programme ever since and is used to optimise selection and ‘matings’ on a weekly basis on four continents. Improvements to the breeding programme have been assessed using software developed with Roslin’s assistance. Over 54 million piglets have now been registered on the database, which represents a significant proportion of the world supply of pig meat. In 2013, Genus and the Roslin Institute signed a partnership agreement which provides substantial funding for three years to support both existing and future collaborative research projects. Current activity includes work to address Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), an endemic viral disease which is the most costly disease to the European and North American pig industries, with losses estimated at around $600 million per year in the USA alone. Dr Dave McLaren, Director of Research at Genus, said,

WANT TO KNOW MORE? GET IN TOUCH WITH... Sonja Vujovic Roslin Institute E: sonja.vujovic@ed.ac.uk

“The signing of this partnership agreement represents a major milestone in our institutional relationship and is clear recognition that, here at Genus, we recognise the benefits of working with a world-leading research organisation such as the Roslin Institute to progress our vision of pioneering animal genetic improvement to help nourish the world.” Research undertaken within the partnership will work towards the global objective of improving food security at a time when it has been acknowledged that there must be a sustainable improvement in livestock productivity.

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www.research-innovation.ed.ac.uk


22 EIGHT GREAT TECHNOLOGIES 07

Advanced Materials and Nano-Technology

PHOTOS: 01 Dr Mike Shaver from the School of Chemistry 02 Professor Luke Bisby (left) and Dr Tim Stratford (right) from the School of Engineering

Research at the University of Edinburgh in advanced materials and nanotechnology is being integrated with natural sciences and engineering to solve problems, create opportunities and address critical needs for the UK. This collaborative approach is driving innovation of the next generation of technologies and healthcare devices.

Dr Shaver’s patented technology is now available to license from Edinburgh Research and Innovation.

This approach draws on the key strengths of world class chemistry and engineering teams working in an interdisciplinary manner with biologists to produce and deploy materials which address specific unmet problems and needs.

Biological polymers The synthetic polymer expertise of Dr Shaver also opens up many new routes for the synthesis of materials, especially in designing functionality and order in porous materials for development as cartilage scaffolds, in collaboration with Dr Anthony Callanan from the School of Engineering. 3D printing will allow the fabrication of materials with controlled artificial niches to maintain and grow stem cells from a variety of organs.

This offers the ability to analyse materials and understand their structure-function relationship; design, synthesise and rapidly screen polymeric materials with a wide range of potential medical applications; and fabricate materials with nanometric precision and integrate them into functional devices. Biodegradable plastics from renewable materials In the School of Chemistry, Dr Mike Shaver has been developing new polymer materials to enable the production of sustainable and biodegradable plastics from renewable sources. Plastic touches nearly every aspect of our daily lives, from the consumer goods we buy to the electronic and medical devices we rely on. However, the environmental impact of plastic, derived from nonrenewable petrochemical-based raw materials, is significant and contributes greatly to the world’s growing landfill waste.

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Dr Shaver’s patented technology is now available to license from Edinburgh Research and Innovation.

The existing close collaboration between Professor Mark Bradley in the School of Chemistry and researchers at the Centre for Regenerative Medicine has led to breakthroughs in the development of polymeric materials with engineered biological function and biocompatibility. This includes thermoresponsive synthetic hydrogels, which support long term growth and pluripotency of human embryonic stem cells and polymers that promote the adhesion of endothelial cells and their progenitors without binding pro-inflammatory monocytes or encouraging platelet aggregation.

Professor Bradley’s current research is focused on developing materials for the growth of insulin-producing pancreatic cells and the fabrication of arrays of thousands of porous 3D materials by inkjet mediated approaches, both of which require extensive materials characterisation. Nanoband electrodes Professor Andy Mount (School of Chemistry) and Professor Anthony Walton (School of Engineering) have developed high sensitivity nanoband electrodes for healthcare sensor applications. Nanoimprint lithography also offers the opportunity for a cost-efficient nanosystems-on-silicon production and prototyping. This close dimensional control of nanoband and nanoscale electrode arrays and the ability to vary materials for optimal interaction make this architecture of real scientific and market interest for healthcare as well as a wide variety of other electroanalytical applications.

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Researchers within the Structural Engineering Research Group based in the University’s School of Engineering are studying the use of advanced, non-conventional materials and structural systems in the built environment. Professor Luke Bisby and Dr Tim Stratford work closely with numerous industry partners to develop polymeror cementitious-based fibre reinforced composite materials for reinforcement, strengthening, repair and rehabilitation of buildings, infrastructure, and industrial facilities around the world.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? GET IN TOUCH WITH... Stuart Duncan School of Chemistry E: s.duncan@ed.ac.uk

They conduct advanced research, consultancy and design code development for all types of civil engineering structures and construction materials. Their overarching goal is to make best use of advances in materials science to enhance the sustainability, efficiency, functionality and durability of the built environment, while preserving or enhancing public safety. This is epitomised through a research consultancy and development project with Ruredil SpA, based in Milan, Italy. The company are looking to characterise the mechanical performance of advanced cement-based carbon fibre reinforced cementitious mortars, which are now being used

throughout Europe and North America to provide fire-safe, light weight, ultra strong, and durable strengthening systems for existing concrete and masonry structures. This work has been particularly important for seismic strengthening in the wake of recent natural disasters, such as the L’Aquila earthquake, which caused widespread damage and loss of life in the Abruzzo region of Italy in 2009. Dr Giovanni Manetgazza, Technical Director of Ruredil SpA, commented: “Working with Bisby and Stratford at the University of Edinburgh has allowed us to understand and demonstrate the superior performance of our structural strengthening systems at both ambient and elevated temperatures.” Professor Bisby and Dr Stratford have also been working with various material suppliers, most notably US-based Fyfe Co. LLC, aimed at developing design solutions within international building codes to allow the safe and confident use of advanced polymer-composite and cementitious-composite materials, as well as UK-based MagmaTech Ltd on the development of construction system solutions based on Basalt fibre reinforced polymer bars.

www.research-innovation.ed.ac.uk

ADVANCED MATERIALS AND NANO-TECHNOLOGY

Making buildings safer


24 EIGHT GREAT TECHNOLOGIES 08

Energy and its Storage The Institute for Energy Systems within the University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering combines expertise in traditional power engineering and electronics with energy resource management. The Institute is world-leading in marine energy research and development, with a track record of excellence in wave and tidal energy stretching back 40 years, starting with Professor Stephen Salter who many regard as the father of wave energy. In addition to the Institute’s marine energy research, it leads the UK Centre for Marine Energy Research, a consortium of UK universities conducting research into marine energy. Edinburgh’s new FloWave facility, which is capable simulating any sea state (both waves and current) to test devices at scale, is a hugely important part of the development of marine

renewables. This unique facility will launch this year for both academic and commercial customers. Energy Storage In the field of energy storage, Dr Dimitri Mignard is looking into sustainable fuels on a significant scale through storage of renewable energies. His research is focusing on the practicalities of utilising variable renewable energies, such as wind, wave or tidal, for the synthesis of fuels and chemicals (e.g. alcohol fuels, petrol or hydrogen).

The Institute is world-leading in marine energy research and development, with a track record of excellence in wave and tidal energy stretching back 40 years

Power Systems Professor Gareth Harrison, an expert in power systems and the network integration of renewable

energy, is investigating the life cycle assessment of renewable energy sources and energy networks to assess the energy consumption and CO2 emissions of a range of new renewable technologies, including micro-wind turbines, wave energy converters and tidal current turbines, as well as transmission and distribution networks. Energy Generators Meanwhile, Dr Markus Mueller continues to develop new energy generators with a specific focus on wind, wave and tidal current energy converters in collaboration with Dr Ewen Macpherson.

New connections for energy network The University of Edinburgh has formed a strong research partnership over the last couple of years with high voltage test and insulation condition monitoring provider, HVPD Ltd, focussing on developing and testing new ‘Smart Grid’ technologies for future electricity networks in the UK. The UK is aiming to significantly increase the penetration of renewable energy. The variety of renewable energy resources mean that many schemes will be connected to distribution networks. As these networks were not designed to accept distributed generation, their connection creates a wide range of technical problems.

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HVPD are experts in the field of Online Partial Discharge (PD) condition assessment and asset reliability of all types of in-service, medium voltage (MV) and high voltage (HV) plant.

Working with the University of Edinburgh has allowed us to quickly bring expertise in power quality monitoring into the projects which was a new area to the company.

Dr Sasa Djokic from the University’s Institute for Energy Systems has been working with HVPD on two recent Technology Strategy Board funded feasibility projects, making progress in understanding the problems for renewable energy distributed generation applications. This partnership complements the Institute’s research programme on renewable energy generation, which is exploring the challenges that distributed generation brings and

developing appropriate solutions with industry. The first project is investigating an integrated ‘Smart Grid’ insulation condition and power quality monitoring platform for electricity distribution MV networks. The second project is looking into an integrated monitoring system for offshore wind farm HV networks. Malcolm Seltzer-Grant, Senior Development Engineer at HVPD Ltd, commented: “Working with the University of Edinburgh has allowed us to quickly bring expertise in power quality monitoring into the projects which was a new area to the company.”

PHOTOS: 01 Dr Sasa Djokic from the School of Engineering 02 Engineering student working on wind-transmission sub-assembly in the Artemis hydraulics lab © Artemis Intelligent Power Ltd


25 ENERGY AND ITS STORAGE

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Dr Win Rampen Managing Director of Artemis

We hope that our continuing symbiotic relationship will provide a useful model for other technology spin-outs.

Wave energy concepts spark engineering innovations The University’s Institute for Energy Systems and Artemis Intelligent Power Ltd have established a long and successful research relationship since the inception of the company by Dr Win Rampen, a PhD student from Professor Stephen Salter’s wave energy group, in 1994. Artemis performs research, development, and technology licensing associated with Digital Displacement® hydraulic power technology, and other innovations in the control and transmission of fluid power. The concepts underlying this technology had evolved during the 1970s and 1980s in designing high performance multi-megawatt power-take-off systems for renewable energy devices. The company was initially based in the School of Engineering, renting out laboratory and office space with agreed access to the School’s workshops. Final year undergraduate students undertook their six month industrial placement with the company and a significant number of these students ended up working for the company. Artemis was successful in obtaining funding from the Carbon Trust and the Department of Energy and Climate Change on renewable energy projects.

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A senior research associate from the Institute was seconded parttime into the company to play a key role in the successful delivery of these projects. The secondee was eventually employed by the company to develop the next stage in the development of this renewable energy project.

Dr Win Rampen, Managing Director of Artemis, commented: “Despite moving off-campus we have managed to continue our longstanding co-operation with the University and particularly IES. We hope that our continuing symbiotic relationship will provide a useful model for other technology spin-outs.”

In 2008, the company had expanded and required bigger research facilities, which resulted in a move into a dedicated research facility a few miles from the University. This relationship continues to thrive, with more final year graduates continuing their industrial placements with the company and an Artemis research engineer has just started a part-time company sponsored PhD with the Institute.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? GET IN TOUCH WITH... John Jeffrey School of Engineering E: john.jeffrey@ed.ac.uk

www.research-innovation.ed.ac.uk


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Child-proof Technology Developing technology for early years learning Professor Lydia Plowman, in the University’s School of Education, has been investigating digital technologies and learning for over twenty years. Her more recent research, into the ways in which mobile phones, laptops and tablets are used at home and how they are integrated into family life, has attracted a great deal of interest. A key question is about the impact of these devices on learning. Her research shows that, if the interactive content on computer games, apps and electronic learning toys is well designed and children have support from family members or teachers, digital media can extend young children’s learning in the early years. The pre-school market is expanding rapidly with the advent of technologies, such as iPads, that are attractive to young children. Parents want to be sure that the content is suitable, engaging and educational. As a key authority on the subject, Lydia’s expertise has been sought out by companies large and small across the globe. Drawing on the know-how of Dr Andrew Manches, an ESRC Future Research Leader, and other colleagues in the School of Education who specialise in areas such as creativity or child development, Lydia can tailor research projects to meet the client’s specific needs. This has led to successful collaborations with technology design companies, such as Punchcut LLC and SyncScreen Ltd, as well as CBeebies and Which? magazine.

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Lydia’s expertise has been sought out by companies large and small across the globe

The BBC asked Lydia to evaluate the learning potential of games on their website for pre-school children, CBeebies. By involving teachers, parents and children and analysing learning interactions in considerable detail, she was able to make recommendations in terms of interface design and educational content and was asked to deliver a session on children’s learning for the CBeebies interactive team at Salford.

The research has given us a deeper understanding of how our audience interact with some of our games This led to further BBC commissions, including a video for its First Time Online initiative in which Lydia provided reassurance for parents by talking about which games were suitable for two- and three-year-olds, backed up with

guidance on the CBeebies Grown-Ups website on how parents can get the most out of the games and support their child’s learning An interactive producer at CBeebies commented: “The research has given us a deeper understanding of how our audience interact with some of our games and what the benefits of playing those games may be. This has not only given us a different perspective on existing games, but is also feeding in to the way we advise parents on how best to support their children when using new technologies in the future.”

PHOTO: Professor Lydia Plowman from the School of Education


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With video cameras integrated into most digital devices nowadays, a University of Edinburgh start-up company, Peekabu Studios Ltd, is working on a pilot project looking at an innovative way of enabling children to logon to the CBBC website using its gesture and image recognition expertise. This is part of the Connected Studio Programme, an open process that encourages innovation through collaborations between the BBC and external companies. Alexander Cole, a Design & Digital Media graduate from the University, set up Peekabu Studios in 2010 to develop a gesture interface technology for home digital entertainment. The company has since worked with Channel 4 on developing connected TV motion control for programmes. Peekabu Studios is one of three digital creative companies that were successfully shortlisted to work with CBBC on a Connected Studio Pilot in 2012. For the CBBC pilot, Peekabu’s ‘EEZL’ project combines the website visitor’s own creative ability to produce their own unique piece of artwork and use it as their login

identifier and password to access content on the CBBC website.

Peekabu Studios Ltd is one of three digital creative companies that were successfully shortlisted to work with CBBC According to Alexander: “It’s a very exciting opportunity to be working with the BBC on a novel project like this, especially given the expertise and talent among the companies vying for a pilot. We’re thrilled to show what a Scottish company can do when given a national audience”.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? GO ONLINE TO... W: www.peekabu.net

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CHILD-PROOF TECHNOLOGY

CBBC connects with Peekabu


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Kevin Dorrian Director of Acumen PR

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Professor Sir Kenneth Murray, who died earlier this year, is widely recognised as one of the most eminent scientists of his generation


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Professor Sir Kenneth Murray: A pioneer who was ahead of his time Kevin Dorrian, Director of Acumen PR, recalls the life and achievement of Sir Kenneth Murray whose research and scientific achievement will be a lasting legacy stretching beyond the 21st century.

PHOTO: Professor Sir Kenneth Murray © The Darwin Trust of Edinburgh

Yet another name has been added to that pantheon of illustrious alumni from the University of Edinburgh that leave their indelible mark on society. Professor Sir Kenneth Murray, who died earlier this year, is widely recognised as one of the most eminent scientists of his generation, a pioneering leader of scientific innovation and universally acknowledged for his philanthropic endeavour. Whilst, Ken Murray is synonymous with developing the first genetically engineered vaccine against Hepatitis B, which has now saved countless lives across the globe, he had the foresight before many of his peers, to recognise the need to commercialise his research – which was something not considered appropriate by many of the traditional academics at the time. Ken was one of a group of the world’s most accomplished biologists who co-founded Biogen N.V. in 1978, which to this day remains the oldest biotechnology company in the world. Having developed the diagnostic kit and vaccine against Hepatitis B in

Ken Murray is synonymous with developing the first genetically engineered vaccine against hepatitis B, which has now saved countless lives across the globe

1980, Ken patented the intellectual property around this technology and then licensed the patented technology to Biogen, who invested in the development of the vaccine product that is sold under licence by two of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. When it became clear that the licence to Biogen would earn considerable royalties, as the primary beneficiary of these royalty payments, Ken decided to set up the Darwin Trust of Edinburgh to support education and research in molecular biology. In truth, he had no great desire to benefit materially from the major financial rewards to which his research entitled him. The trust continues to fund undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships, with nearly 400 students supported so far, mostly, but not exclusively, studying at the University, and in particular from countries that cannot themselves offer the necessary research facilities. Donations from the Trust also supported the building of the University’s original Darwin Library, Michael Swann Building, the Noreen and Kenneth Murray Library, as well

as funding other research initiatives and research equipment for the School of Biological Sciences. The trust embodies his true philanthropic nature. Accolades and recognition by his peers were never far away and Ken received much recognition for his outstanding work, including a knighthood for services to science in 1993.

Ken received much recognition for his outstanding work, including a knighthood His legacy to the University, and to the world, from his Hepatitis B discovery is vast. Millions of lives have been saved by a man with little time for the ‘trappings of life’, but who simply wanted to advance the frontiers of scientific discovery. There could be a no more fitting epitaph….

www.research-innovation.ed.ac.uk

AHEAD OF HIS TIME

Ahead of His Time


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Putting the ‘smart’ into Smartphones The smartphone industry is booming with an estimated five billion units predicted to be manufactured over the next five years! They have become an integral part of our daily lives, so take a look at some of the technology that has emerged or is currently in development from the University of Edinburgh contributing to the smartphone revolution.

become one of the world leaders in mobile visual search technology,” says Mobile Acuity’s founder and CTO, Anthony Ashbrook.

Soz, my battery is dying Users not only expect their devices to run increasingly complex applications; they also expect longer battery life. Edinburgh’s Informatics researchers have developed Encore, a low-powered, customizable embedded microprocessor. Encore delivers up to 25 per cent more performance, whilst reducing the physical size and energy requirements by up to 15 per cent. The University has been working with Synopsys, Inc. to help bring the underlying technology to market.

Hey, if only you could search images Imagine being able to search online for anything just by taking a picture of it. This is exactly what is being developed by University spin-out company Mobile Acuity Ltd. Their mobile visual search technology allows you to take a photo with your smartphone and the content becomes searchable. “We are witnessing a change in the way we search for content and information. Our technology has many exciting applications and we believe from our experience of developing products in this area that we have

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An estimated five billion units predicted to be manufactured over the next five years - that’s 40 new smartphones every second!

Sorry you couldn’t reach me, I didn’t have a signal Ever have poor signal or slow internet on your phone? Sofant Technologies Ltd, an Edinburgh spin-out company, is currently advancing antenna technology for smartphones, tablets and beyond. They are working on a ‘smart antenna’ that is able to detect where a wireless signal is coming from without wasting energy searching in all directions. This could double the battery life compared to conventional antennas and prevent dropped calls, weak signals, dead zones and slow internet. “Our technology will change the performance and user experience of smartphones forever,” reports Sergio Tansini, CEO of Sofant.

Where there’s light, I can talk! Poor quality wireless connections, unreliable data rates and frequent outages are problems trying

to be countered by University spin-out company, pureVLC Ltd. They have developed visible light communications technology, which enables LED light bulbs to transmit data faster than current, congested Wi-Fi systems. Their vision is that this ‘Li-Fi’ technology is a more secure and reliable way of sending and receiving wireless data, especially for products such as smartphones. This technology is particularly apt in situations where the use of standard radio frequency Wi-Fi can have restrictions, such as petrochemical plants, hospitals and aircrafts.

That cake looks sweet, I gotta instagram this! Technology from the University has been extremely influential in the development of digital cameras used in camera phones. University spin-out VLSI Vision Ltd was founded in 1990 by Professor Peter Denyer in order to pioneer the development of CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) image sensor technology. The growth of camerabased products in the 1990s helped establish CMOS as the mainstream sensor technology for digital imaging. VLSI was acquired by STMicroelectronics and, thanks


31 MOBILE INNOVATION

to the innovation seeds planted by VLSI, ST have subsequently become one of the world’s leading producers of cost-effective, highly integrated CMOS cameras. ST maintains an R&D centre in Edinburgh with close ties with the University.

I have no idea where I am‌epic GPS fail Technology developed at Edinburgh allows you to find your exact location, even deep indoors, on your smartphone without the use of GPS. This technology, created by University spin-out company sensewhere Ltd, automatically crowd-sources and crossreferences radio frequencies. This cost-effective and dynamic use of radio frequencies has resulted in highly-accurate indoor location data that is potentially very valuable to social networks, device manufacturers, mobile phone networks, and retailers.

Dude, that sound is awesome! The evolution of the smartphone has also increased the demand for high quality audio from mobile devices. Wolfson Microelectronics plc, for example, has developed low power high performance mixed-signal semiconductor devices incorporating multiple powerful digital signal processor cores. These devices along with a suite of sound enhancing software algorithms provide high definition audio solutions for the consumer electronics market. This technology increases sound quality and battery performance allowing consumer electronics manufacturers to differentiate their products including smartphones. Wolfson spun-out from the University in 1984 and has grown to become a global provider of this high definition audio technology.

www.research-innovation.ed.ac.uk


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Dr Wendy Nicholson Head of ERI Business Development

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We are very excited about having won this and other funding towards improving our knowledge exchange impact, which will allow us to put our ideas into practice.

PHOTO: Dr Wendy Nicholson and Dr Sonja Vujovic receiving the BBSRC Activating Impact Award from BBSRC CEO Professor Douglas Kell Š Tim Gander 2013


33 SPARKING IMPACT

Delivering Knowledge Exchange Impact Improving our approach to delivering impact through industry engagement In March 2013, Edinburgh Research and Innovation (representing the University of Edinburgh and the University’s Roslin Institute) won the top prize in the inaugural BBSRC Activating Impact Competition 2013, against 41 of the UK’s leading universities.

ERI won this prestigious £50k funding to pilot a new knowledge exchange and commercialisation (KEC) initiative that will increase the commercial impact of bioscience research at the University. ERI’s success was due to its strategy, track record and vision, having established itself as a sector-leading organisation with an excellent record in delivering impact from bioscience research at the University of Edinburgh. A cited example was an industrial partnership with Landcatch Natural Selection, a salmon breeding company, with projects focussing on improving disease resistance in farmed salmon.

ERI’s success was due to its strategy, track record and vision ERI plans to build on this success and further embed a KEC culture at the University to invigorate the next generation of research entrepreneurs. The new initiative incorporates three core KEC elements:

(i) Appointing researchers, based within the University, as ‘Technology Scouts’ to stimulate more active engagement in the knowledge exchange process by allowing embedded ‘scouts’ to identify commercial opportunities from their research institute. (ii) Short interchanges, in either direction, between academic and industrial labs (mini-secondments) to bring together the thinking of academic and industrial staff, and develop relationships that can be leveraged for future collaborative projects fostering effective knowledge exchange. (iii) Technology scouts will attend industry focussed conferences to generate contacts and build a better knowledge of the market landscape in particular areas of interest. Scouts will then host focused scoping workshops with academics to address the problems the market will face in the future and identify solutions that industry needs. Additional impact funding of £200k from the BBSRC’s new Sparking Innovation initiative will be used to pump prime early stage BBSRC

ERI plans to build on this success and further embed a KEC culture at the University to invigorate the next generation of research entrepreneurs.

activities including the generation of new commercial relationships. This funding will also be used to develop early stage IP and potentially fund market assessments to determine the commercial viability for new bioscience innovations. Edinburgh Research and Innovation already has a number of impact initiatives established at the University thanks to similar funding from NERC and EPSRC, which helped set up a Commercial Relations Team, who are proactively looking to establish long term strategic relationships with both small and large industrial partners across a variety of industrial sectors. According to Dr Wendy Nicholson, ERI’s Head of Business Development: “Winning the BBSRC competition against some tough competition is fantastic, and acknowledges the successes that ERI has achieved with BBSRC-funded research outputs at the University. We are very excited about having won this and other funding towards improving our knowledge exchange impact, which will allow us to put our ideas into practice.”

www.research-innovation.ed.ac.uk


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Enterprising Spirit ERI’s company formation activity continues to buck the economic trend with staff and students setting up new businesses, showing that the spirit of enterprise is booming at the University.

An economy improving after a recession provides small companies with their most productive habitat. Spurts of market growth outstrip established supply chains constrained by entrenched practice and conservative investment models. New technology, ignored during months or years of scarce spending, is accelerated to market to quench rapidly growing demand made impatient by recent hardship.

That’s the theory at least. Of course, reality rarely behaves itself. However, even if the above theory is imperfect, the fundamental premise is sound. Small companies prosper in post-recession growth. But by the time we know for sure that we are at that point in the economic cycle, the opportunity will be gone. Risk takers, or rather the successful ones, will reap the rewards. That is the nature of business.

In 2013, as we rather nervously whisper the words ‘economic recovery’, the University of Edinburgh now has in place the most comprehensive range of support for new companies ever at a Scottish university, and amongst the best in Europe. A fundamental underpinning of that commitment is the knowledge that universities do not form new companies... entrepreneurs do!

New Enternship initiative launched This summer, in partnership with Santander UK, LAUNCH.ed appointed four Enterns to undertake a three month enterprise internship as part of an intensive new company incubator programme for students or recent graduates from the University of Edinburgh. The four Enterns will have the opportunity to work full-time on their own businesses, earning a salary of £1,000 per month. Office space will be provided and the Enterns will be given business training, advice, access to mentors, pitching opportunities and encouraged to help each other throughout the process. The application process for the programme was highly competitive. However, based on their interview pitches, business and ability to execute their ideas, the first four enterprise Enterns were chosen:

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Orfeas Boteas: Dehumaniser Dehumaniser is a sound design tool/prototype software that can instantly create monster sounds for the entertainment industry;

PHOTOS: 01 Helen Fisher holding the Innovation Cup 02 Helen Fisher receives the Innovation Cup from the University Principal, Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea

Helen Fisher: Reveal Reveal ensures that washed hands are free of infection and can work alongside existing products from liquid cleaners to sprays and wipes; David Hunter: Caddie Charger Caddie Charger is a device to keep your mobile phone or GPS device topped up while on the golf course;

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Abesh Thakur: Two Big Ears Two Big Ears is a mobile platform that allows sound to be used to augment the user experience. If this pilot programme proves successful LAUNCH.ed hope to run it annually.

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03 Innovation Cup runners up Liita Naukushu (left) and Eimear O’Carroll (right) with the University Principal, Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea


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A previous winner of the Innovation Cup, Kanika Bansal of MediCen Devise Ltd, has shown that winning the cup is only the start of greater things. Kanika followed up this success in winning the Science Technology & Engineering category at the Scottish Institute for Enterprise New Ideas Competition in 2012 and was runner-up in the Converge Challenge 2012. To round off a memorable year, Kanika was recently awarded a RSE Enterprise Fellowship in 2013 During her Fellowship, Kanika is being hosted at the University to develop her medical device, called ‘IV Prev’, which aims to prevent infection around intravenous (IV) drip catheters for hospital patients. This automatic, non-invasive, disposable device could result in a 99.4 per cent reduction in bacteria on skin, which would prevent infection from IV needle punctures.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? GET IN TOUCH WITH... Grant Wheeler Head of Company Formation & Incubation E: grant.wheeler@ed.ac.uk

Entrepreneurs pitch to win! This year, a record number of students, researchers and University of Edinburgh graduates with technology-based business ideas or young business ventures competed in LAUNCH.ed’s annual Innovation Cup. The applications came from across a variety of disciplines and there was strong competition to reach the final. Six finalists were selected to pitch their business ideas to a panel of three judges; Jock Millican

(Chairman, LINC Scotland), Mary Jane Brouwers (Investment Executive, Archangel Informal Investment Limited) and serial entrepreneur Simon Hardy. The final pitching and awards ceremony, hosted with the Entrepreneurship Club at the Business School, was well attended, with over 50 delegates coming along to support the finalists, including the University of Edinburgh Principal, Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea.

Recognising global achievement This year’s Innovation Cup event also recognised a University of Edinburgh student alumnus who has made a major impact through entrepreneurship to the world of business. The first LAUNCH.ed Entrepreneurial Achievement Award was made to Tom Griffiths of FanDuel.

The £5,000 first prize was awarded to Helen Fisher, of Helen Fisher Design Ltd, who has developed an innovative hand sanitisation and cleaning product to reduce the spread of infections in hospitals. The two runners up were Liita Naukushu (Kaliitasha – a product designed to help women in Africa manage menstruation) and Eimear O’Carroll (Restored Hearing – a product designed to relieve the symptoms of tinnitus).

Tom graduated from the School of Informatics with an MSc in informatics and then embarked upon a PhD in machine learning. While working on his PhD, Tom and his team developed Hubdub, a news prediction site which eventually became Fanduel, a fantasy sports game company. Fanduel has attracted several million pounds in investment funding from venture capitalists and now employs over 50 people in their offices in Edinburgh & New York.

www.research-innovation.ed.ac.uk

ENTERPRISING SPIRIT

A stepping stone to greater things


36 ENTERPRISING SPIRIT

The Life of an Enterprise Intern Ann Sachs, LAUNCH.ed Intern 2012-13, is a PhD candidate in Architecture at the University’s Edinburgh College of Art. The best part about being an enterprise intern is seeing the stack of student applications the morning after a business competition deadline. The weeks of carting competition posters around in your bag, Blu-Tack stuck to your pockets and the hours spent telling everyone you know and many you will get to know through your persistent spouting of “have you heard about…” will have paid off. These applications represent students who work incredibly hard balancing their businesses alongside all the responsibilities of being a student. Taking that first step into entrepreneurship can be scary and reading the stories of the students behind the ideas makes me very happy to have a small, supporting role in the enterprise process here at LAUNCH.ed. The first steps may be nerveracking, but the payoff can be extraordinary. This year, I watched one first time entrepreneur go from a first meeting with a LAUNCH.ed advisor to winning his first business competition two weeks later. Another six months down the road, he was pitching his business to the Principal of the whole university.

Ann Sachs LAUNCH.ed Intern 2012-13

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I don’t know of anywhere else where I would be watching the amazing process of students going from zero to pitching and learning the proper form of address for the University of Edinburgh Principal in the same week. There is never a dull moment when you work with some of the brightest future business leaders around. I fully expect to see many of the students I’ve met in my internship go on to own successful and profitable businesses. Who knows when that business competition poster on the wall is what sparks the next Apple or Facebook. The amount of work that goes into supporting and encouraging student enterprise every day, from workshops and conferences to advisors willing to talk students through the start-up process, reminds me how lucky we are here at the University of Edinburgh. And that is why I fully expect to see the names of some LAUNCH.ed alumni in the headlines in a few short years, saying: “former University of Edinburgh student buys Microsoft”!

I fully expect to see many of the students I’ve met in my internship go on to own successful and profitable businesses.


37 INNOVATION FOR BUSINESS

Innovation for Business Innovation scheme helps business tap into academic expertise

WANT TO KNOW MORE? GO ONLINE TO... Innovation Voucher Scheme W: www.interface-online.org.uk/3410

A recent Scottish Government report found that 99.4 per cent of private sector enterprises operating in Scotland are small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). At the University of Edinburgh, we believe that we should be engaging with such businesses on every level at every opportunity.

To help facilitate more businessacademic interaction, in 2009 the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) introduced the Innovation Voucher Scheme, which encourages SMEs based in Scotland to work in partnership with universities like Edinburgh. The scheme is aimed at encouraging a long and sustainable

The scheme is aimed at encouraging a long and sustainable relationship between both parties

relationship between both parties rather than just offset the costs of the business purchasing a service from a university. The voucher provides SMEs with matched funding of up to ÂŁ5,000 to finance a collaborative project at a university, with access to the world-class facilities and expertise that will help the company develop

new processes, products or services and boost growth in the company and the Scottish economy.

PHOTO: Dr Philip Hands from the School of Physics

STORY CONTINUES OVERLEAF

www.research-innovation.ed.ac.uk


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Head start for Biopta For companies like Biopta Ltd, the SFC Innovation Voucher Scheme gave them the opportunity to work with Dr Denis Headon from the University’s Roslin Institute on a collaborative project assessing the technical and commercial viability of their hair follicle growth assays. Biopta contacted Interface, a SFCfunded ‘match-making’ organisation that promotes business links with universities in Scotland, who matched them with Dr Headon’s expertise in follicle biology.

Dr David Bunton CEO of Biopta Ltd

From the initial work carried out in this project, the company were able to optimise methods for the isolation and growth of human hair follicles for use in the testing of new pharmaceuticals. Dr David Bunton, CEO of Biopta, commented: “This is a technically challenging area and one that offers the potential for Biopta and the University of Edinburgh to develop innovative solutions for unmet industry needs. Dr Headon’s expertise was vital to the success of

This project has initiated a relationship that would not have previously existed

Dr Headon’s expertise was vital to the success of the pilot project and we are now exploring ways to continue the research through other funding channels

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the pilot project and we are now exploring ways to continue the research through other funding channels.” This project has initiated a relationship that would not have previously existed and created an opportunity for the company to access expertise that they did not have in house.

Building on previous success Due to the success of the Innovation Voucher Scheme, SFC have introduced a follow-on scheme, which allows companies to apply for a matched funding grant, to continue an existing university collaboration for a project worth up to £40,000. Holoxica Ltd, a leading supplier of stunning 3D holograms that utilises state-of-the-art technology, are based at Edinburgh’s Scottish Microelectronics Centre and are working closely with the University to develop their technology. Earlier this year, the company met with Dr Philip Hands, a Chancellors Fellow in the School of Engineering, whose research focus is liquid crystals, sensors, lasers and 3D

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displays, to discuss their mutual interests. It soon became clear that there was scope for a consultancy project with Holoxica.

The project focuses on developing Holoxica’s prototype holographic video display, which was featured recently on Channel Five’s Gadget Show.

Dr Hands contacted Edinburgh Research and Innovation and was supported in his successful application for SFC Follow-on Innovation Voucher funding for the project. The project focuses on developing Holoxica’s prototype holographic video display, which was featured recently on Channel Five’s Gadget Show. Dr Hands will use liquid crystals to develop a compact and low-cost tuneable laser source essential to the project that is not available ‘offthe-shelf’, enabling the company to

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produce a full working prototype of their new technology allowing them to progress in the market. Javid Khan, Managing Director of Holoxica, commented: “We are fortunate to have a talented optical engineer like Dr Philip Hands here in Edinburgh and look forward to a fruitful and mutually beneficial collaboration with him and the Engineering department.”


39 INNOVATION FOR BUSINESS

Company gets taste for closer relations Macphie of Glenbervie Ltd is a leading family owned SME based in Aberdeen, which specialises in developing and manufacturing premium food products, including ready-to-use culinary sweet and savoury sauces, desserts, fruit coulis, bakery mixes, icings, fillings and frostings. They have been working with the University of Edinburgh since 2010 after an initial project with Edinburgh’s School of Physics and Astronomy, set up via Interface and funded through a SFC Innovation Voucher. After the first project Macphie realised that there was a lot more expertise available at the University

that they could tap into, which has led to a sustained relationship through further on-going consultancy projects, but has also widened into other aspects. Since then, Macphie have funded a PhD studentship in the School of Chemistry to investigate properties of natural food dyes that can improve stability in their food products.

After the first project Macphie realised that there was a lot more expertise available at the University that they could tap into

In addition, Macphie have taken on an Edinburgh graduate, funded through an EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account, which was set up by Edinburgh Research and Innovation’s new Commercial Relations Team, who are focusing on creating and developing sustained relationships with industry. The graduate is currently working with Macphie in their labs to create an alternative dairy cream formulation.

They have also been awarded a Santander internship, which part funds a fourth year university student to work with an SME during the summer; in Macphie’s case, to work on new raw materials for alternative ingredients for the company.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

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GET IN TOUCH WITH... Michaela Turner Commercial Relations E: michaela.turner@ed.ac.uk

PHOTOS: 01 Dr Denis Headon from the Roslin Institute 02 Gradient-pitch tuneable liquid crystal laser, developed by Dr Hands 03 Chocolate gateau with GlenDelight™ © Macphie of Glenbervie Ltd

www.research-innovation.ed.ac.uk



Infinite Magazine 2013