Eight cancer ventures among start-ups selected for University of Edinburgh incubator

Cancer-focused enterprises, a plant-based beverage and a subsea robot are among 20 start-up ventures selected for a University of Edinburgh incubator programme.

The Venture Builder Incubator 2.0, run by the university’s Data-Driven Entrepreneurship (DDE) initiative and hosted at the city’s Bayes Centre, includes eight companies operating projects in the field of cancer.

It follows a new partnership, announced in September, between the university and Cancer Research UK to support PhD students and researchers in developing and accelerating commercialisation of ideas aimed at combating the disease.

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The cancer-focused ventures include NanoTara, which is exploring a method for early cancer diagnosis using magnetic nanorobots; 10zyme, a start-up devising a simple method of detecting cancers through urine or saliva samples; and ForceBiology, which is behind a more accurate and cost-effective high throughput drug-screening platform.

Charlotte Waugh, enterprise and innovation programme lead at Edinburgh Innovations. Picture: Stewart Attwood

This year’s programme also includes Edinburgh start-ups in a range of other sectors, including Quas, a plant-based, non-alcoholic beverage.

Also selected are Zoforia Technologies, developer of an online wellbeing platform for children; Amitabha, an artificial intelligence-driven conveyancing system; and Robocean, a subsea robot that can plant seagrass much faster and cheaper than other methods.

The Venture Builder Incubator is designed to help fledgling entrepreneurs build their skills and take their businesses to the next level. Supported by Edinburgh Innovations, the university’s commercialisation service, the incubator is delivered by the Bayes Centre on behalf of the university’s five data-driven innovation hubs.

Charlotte Waugh, enterprise and innovation programme lead at Edinburgh Innovations, said: “The programme features 20 companies that have been engaged in academic research to address some of the world’s major challenges including the climate emergency, health and wellbeing, children’s mental health, and financial security.

“We look forward to supporting these ventures, helping commercialise their ideas to transform them into world-leading businesses. This programme further builds on our ambition to establish Edinburgh as the data capital of Europe.”

Laura Bernal, Venture Builder Incubator programme manager, added: “We’re delighted to welcome all our new cohorts including the eight start-up companies recruited in partnership with Cancer Research UK, with ideas to transform the way we treat cancer. These companies are focused on developing early diagnosis tools and less invasive testing to enable better and quicker treatments and improved outcomes for cancer patients.”

The start-ups in this year’s cohort were chosen after an application process which includes PhD students and post doctorates from the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University, as well as research staff focused on cancer-related projects from across the UK.

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Each venture is provided with a cash injection and business support through a series of workshops, networking events, mentoring, peer to peer learnings and access to the University of Edinburgh’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and its data expertise.

The delivery of the programme is supported by Edinburgh-based strategic design consultancy Nile, Scale Space and edventure, a pan-European university venture builder and accelerator, launched in 2020 by three Edinburgh students.

The incubator has also formed a partnership with FinTech Scotland, the body supporting the financial technology sector north of the Border, to leverage its network to support entrepreneurs.

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