Capital gains: Edinburgh business incubator cheers achievements of participating firms

The Edinburgh Business School (EBS) incubator at Heriot-Watt University has seen about 30 firms attract nearly £2 million in investment while participating and secure five patents in total, according to the initiative’s first three-year report.

The incubator, which was founded in July 2018, offers support such as free access to work stations and meeting spaces, mentoring, support for visas, and access to Edinburgh Business School and Heriot-Watt resources and networks.

The new report has shown that since it started out, it has helped 46 businesses at a variety of stages of start-up, from proof-of-concept through to early trading.

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Heriot-Watt incubator participants turn over £1m
Dr. Ifeyinwa Kanu, founder and boss of IntelliDigest, said the incubator has been 'a vital support on our journey'. Picture: Heriot-Watt University.
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In total, £1.8m was invested in the 29 firms that feature in the report while they were resident in the incubator, £445,000 of which was private investment, and the remainder awards and grant funding.

This has resulted in the creation of more than 70 jobs, and in excess of £1.8m in sales by 13 of the firms that were reported to be in the early trading stage.

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Firms supported by the incubator operate in sectors including energy, electronics, geoscience, trades, retail, hospitality and social enterprise, and are both domestic and international.

Copper & Carbon, an energy tech start-up based in Edinburgh that aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, is one of the companies to have benefited, creating eight jobs in the process.

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Another, IntelliDigest, is focused on tackling food waste and enabling upcycling to generate climate-friendly chemicals and bio-energy. Backed by the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Back Her Business scheme and others, the firm has had one patent awarded and two are pending.

Dr. Ifeyinwa Kanu, IntelliDigest founder and chief executive, said: “It has been a great experience to be part of Edinburgh Business school Incubator, a vital support on our journey to empowering global food sustainability from farm to fork.”

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Professor Laura Galloway of Edinburgh Business School, said the incubator has adopted a “‘melting pot’ philosophy of inclusivity and diversity from which everyone can learn”.

She added that in March 2020, it temporarily became a virtual incubator due to Covid. “The pandemic also prompted us to provide additional sessions on pivoting and resilience for our firms. Despite the extraordinary circumstances, the incubator results illustrate the quality of the businesses we support – and our commitment to continuing that.”

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