Tech incubator next to Edinburgh's historic Royal Observatory creates more than 100 jobs

Technology start-ups based out of Edinburgh’s Higgs Centre for Innovation, next to the city’s landmark Royal Observatory, have created more than 100 jobs since the business incubation centre opened in 2018.

Part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the Higgs Centre is co-located with the UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC) and Edinburgh University’s Institute for Astronomy at the capital’s Royal Observatory. New figures also show that the start-ups, which are focused on the big data and space sectors, have secured more than £10 million in investment.

Firms specialising in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, Earth observation, data analytics and even prosthetics have all been assisted by the STFC business incubation programme at the Higgs Centre.

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Previous tenant Bioliberty recently secured £2.2m in funding to develop a robotic glove that can help restore upper limb mobility in patients following a stroke. The firm has created the Lifeglov - a soft robotic glove which offers rehabilitation for both the closing and opening strength of the hand. The glove monitors key metrics related to upper limb mobility and can show improvement as the patient progresses through their rehab. There is also a digital therapy platform, which provides the patient with tailored exercises to help develop natural hand strength.

Rowan Armstrong, Bioliberty’s chief executive, said: “We wouldn’t be in our current position without the Higgs Centre. It wouldn’t have been possible to raise investment, drive forward research and development, learn from other companies, and so much more if it weren’t for the Higgs incubator and the fantastic team behind it.”

Current Higgs’ tenant Gibson Robotics specialises in the development of drones for security applications such as supplementing police helicopters with a budget friendly alternative or, in extreme circumstances, capturing hostile drones. Founder and managing director Joe Gibson said: “Higgs have been supporting our growth for almost a year and it has been incredibly valuable. Being part of the Higgs ecosystem alongside other high-tech start-ups is great as we share knowledge, experiences and our networks.”

STFC’s Julian Dines, head of innovation at the Higgs Centre, said: “It’s fantastic to have reached such an important milestone with £10m in investment and over 100 jobs. We’re always incredibly proud of the Higgs Centre’s role in assisting young tech companies at the start of their journey. Though we are excited by what we have achieved, we continue to look to the future, supporting small businesses and start-ups by providing access to knowledge, technical skills and facilities. And we look forward to announcing further successes and even more investment over the coming months.”

Ruairidh Henderson, business incubation manager at the Higgs Centre, added: “We’re all about getting hi-tech start-ups, started here at our home on the hill. We try to remove as many obstacles, and offer as much guidance as possible so the companies can focus on reaching their goals. Credit to the businesses – good ideas, well executed get investment – and we wish them all very well as they continue to scale into the future.”

The Science and Technology Facilities Council is part of UK Research and Innovation.

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