Edinburgh University taps into ecosystem funding to expand robotics and AI programme
Edinburgh University has tapped into a UK government-backed tech ecosystem fund to expand its robotics and AI research programme.
Researchers will be match-funded through a partnership with Barclays Eagle Labs ‘Ecosystem Partnership Programme’ to enhance the commercialisation of the technologies.
The university’s Venture Builder Incubator (VBI) programme will get increased support for postgraduate students, early-career researchers, academic staff and recent alumni based anywhere in Scotland specialising in robotics, hardware and autonomous systems, through its annual venture initiative.
The programme has today unveiled the 26 start-ups and early-stage businesses delivering innovative solutions across a range of sectors including life sciences, biotech and renewable energy.
They will have the opportunity to receive a share of £100,000 and mentoring from industry-leading experts, as well as interactive workshops, professional networking events and access to the Bayes Centre’s state-of-the-art facilities in central Edinburgh.
Now in its fourth iteration, VBI is for the first time working with the world-leading centre for robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), the National Robotarium, a Data-Driven Innovation hub based at Heriot-Watt University, to offer tailored support for robotics projects.
The UK robotics industry is projected to grow by more than 7% by 2028, as part of a global robotics technology market valued in excess of $87 billion which is projected to surpass $349 billion by 2032.
VBI is delivered by the University of Edinburgh’s world-leading Innovation Hub for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, the Bayes Centre – part of the Data-Driven Innovation Initiative – with support from Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service.
Duncan Martin, head of entrepreneurship at the Bayes Centre, said: “Venture Builder Incubator specialises in bridging the gap between academia and entrepreneurship, transforming ideas that have societal and industrial impact into reality.
“In particular, the expansion of our 2023 programme will support the development of robotics and autonomous systems companies across Scotland – vital to our nation’s key growth sectors in renewable energy, agriculture and healthcare, as well as to the national economy.
“Working with Barclays Eagle Labs ‘Ecosystem Partnership Programme’ and funded by the UK Government, we can include entrepreneurs working in hardware and robotics from across Scotland for the first time. This will build upon Venture Builder Incubator’s existing programme which has supported more than sixty founders and firms across ClimateTech, AI, AgriTech, FinTech & Health since launching in 2021 and where we continue with our Oncology Sub-Cohort in partnership with Cancer Research Horizons.
“At the University of Edinburgh, our incubator and startup programmes are helping to deliver the skills and knowledge vital to Scotland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and connect budding entrepreneurs with like-minded individuals and industry partners to unlock new collaboration opportunities. If you have an idea that can make a real impact, we want to help you bring it to life.”
Matt Corbidge, head of Eagle Labs, Barclays said: “The opportunity to match-fund this programme will have a marked impact on the businesses it touches within robotics and highlight the possibilities for growth more broadly across the sector.
“The programme will provide entrepreneurs with the opportunity to connect and collaborate, drive growth and work on the commercialisation of their product or service offering – all whilst accessing state of the art facilities within the prestigious grounds of the University of Edinburgh.”
Paul Scully, minister for tech and the digital economy, said: “Start-ups in Edinburgh are at the forefront of innovation in robotics and AI, poised to redefine global technology standards.
“The Digital Growth Grant will help the University of Edinburgh’s Venture Builder Incubator empower researchers to transform cutting-edge science into viable commercial ventures, boosting the UK’s reputation as an incubator for advanced technology.”