Heriot-Watt’s Grid facility accelerates support of tech firms

The enterprise team at Heriot-Watt University’s £19 million Global Research, Innovation and Discovery (Grid) has sped up its support of a range of tech companies seven months on from the facility’s launch.

David Richardson (pictured second from left) with the Grid at Heriot-Watt leadership team. Picture: contributed.

Grid features the university’s business and enterprise hub that incubates existing firms, start-ups and spin-outs. It launched to drive the university’s capabilities such as immersive technology that bridges engineering, business and computing science.

David Richardson, chief entrepreneurial executive at Heriot-Watt, said: “Our objective is to drive real impact by establishing new companies as well as helping existing organisations collaborate and innovate with our talent pool of students, researchers and early-stage entrepreneurs. We have many enablers for this within Heriot-Watt.”

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The team has been working with the following companies in the first quarter of 2020:

SolarisKit, a spin-out cleantech company from Heriot-Watt that recently raised £250,000 to develop low-cost solar heat technology for deployment in developing countries. Celestia UK, an operating company within Netherlands-headquartered Celestia Technologies Group that specialises in satellite and aerospace-related technology. It moved to Grid for an initial three-month period to establish a Scottish base and is set to transfer to Heriot-Watt’s Innovation Park later this year. Farm-Hand, an agritech start-up founded in India that is moving its operational base to Grid as it continues to develop Internet of Things-enabled technology to provide data analytics around irrigation for farmers. Alana, the conversation artificial intelligence software specialist that recently announced its formation as a spin-out from Grid, with the founding team seeing high demand for its technology amid an already exponential increase in sales of touch-free devices that are expected to speed up in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Suji BFR develops wearable tech to help athletes manage training volume and avoid overtraining injuries and maintain muscular performance during periods of de-loading.

Paul Devlin, head of commercialisation at Heriot-Watt, said: “The purpose of the enterprise team at GRID is to support companies through to, or at, the commercialisation stage and we are working with a really exciting crop of companies who are developing innovative solutions to real world problems.”

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Meanwhile, Grid is using its global partnerships and online communities, including with large tech players worldwide, to stay powered up during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The facility is also planning to build on existing initiatives around wellbeing across its Scotland-wide and international hub network – the university has campuses in Dubai and Kuala Lumpur along with those in Edinburgh, Orkney and Galashiels – by seeking to initiate new partnerships globally.

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