University of Edinburgh lights Beacon for data-driven entrepreneurship

Dr George Baxter, CEO of Edinburgh Innovations

THE University of Edinburgh is driving data-driven entrepreneurship as part of the fight back against Covid with a publicly funded programme of business-boosting activities.

The Data-Driven Entrepreneurship Beacon Programme, running to July 2021, is designed to engage existing businesses, support new ones to grow and drive entrepreneurship among staff and students at the University.

The programme is being run by a partnership of Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) Hubs across the University of Edinburgh, and Edinburgh Innovations, the University of Edinburgh’s commercialisation service, allowing for a creative and multidisciplinary approach.

Comprising 12 initiatives and involving a range of business partners, the programme has received funding from the Scottish Funding Council, via the DDI programme of the Edinburgh and South-East Scotland City Region Deal.

Initiatives include the Food and Agriculture Science Transformer (FAST), in partnership with the University’s world-famous Roslin Institute and venture capital firm Deep Science Ventures. The transformer will support academic researchers to turn their discoveries into business opportunities.

In addition, a Fast-Track Executive Director Programme funds directors’ time to provide guidance and mentoring to 10 University spinout companies.

A Venture Builder initiative, delivered in partnership with Edinburgh-based strategic design consultancy Nile and the University’s Bayes Centre, will help students develop their business ideas.

The DDE Beacon Programme also includes funded placements of PhD students into businesses, funded subscriptions to online business training, and support for entrepreneurial recent graduates who have been affected by the economic impact of Covid-19.

Fifteen startups have already been selected for the Post-Covid AI Accelerator, delivered by the Bayes Centre and Edinburgh Innovations and run in partnership with London-based Scale Space. The Accelerator will help AI-focused startups to grow and develop rapidly.

Edinburgh Innovations CEO Dr George Baxter said: “The DDE Beacon Programme is a fantastic opportunity for innovators and entrepreneurs to gain practical support, advice and skills to help their ideas become thriving businesses.

“Encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation is always essential but never more so than now as we emerge from the significant economic impact from the Covid pandemic.

“The benefits to society and our economy from the DDE Beacon Programme are immense; generating new and better services, meeting unmet needs and increasing employment.”

Professor Chris Speed is Director of Innovation at the Edinburgh Futures Institute, one of the University’s DDI Hubs.

Professor Speed said: “It’s exciting to be able to open new channels for Edinburgh’s exceptional creativity and support entrepreneurship at such an important time.”

Dag Lee, Chairman of Nile, said: “If we want to reach a tipping point for entrepreneurship in Scotland,

initiatives like this are an essential piece of the puzzle. We have a long-held ambition to support entrepreneurs and the wider ecosystem in Scotland, so are very excited to be appointed as Strategic Design Partner for the Data-Driven Entrepreneurship Beacon Programme.”

The latest stories