News (from Edinburgh Research and Innovation)

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ERI wins prestigious BBSRC funding

  • 20 March 2013

Edinburgh Research and Innovation wins BBSRC Activating Impact Competition to fund new knowledge exchange initiative at the University of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Research and Innovation (ERI), the commercial arm of the University of Edinburgh, has been awarded £50,000 of funding by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to pilot a new knowledge exchange initiative that will increase the commercial impact of bioscience research at the University.

Edinburgh Research and Innovation (representing the University of Edinburgh and the University’s Roslin Institute) won the top prize in the prestigious inaugural BBSRC Activating Impact Competition 2013 against 41 of the UK’s leading universities. The competition aimed to recognise efforts by knowledge exchange and commercialisation (KEC) teams in turning excellent bioscience research supported by BBSRC into real-life applications. A recent example has seen ERI and The Roslin Institute work with Landcatch Natural Selection, a salmon breeding company, to improve the disease resistance of farmed salmon.

Excellent knowledge exchange record 

ERI’s success in winning the competition was due to its strategy, track record and vision, having established itself as a sector-leading organisation with an excellent record in delivering impact from bioscience research at the University of Edinburgh, which includes The Roslin Institute. The Roslin Institute was integral in setting up the Easter Bush Research Consortium Pfizer Partnership - a five-year multi-million pound animal health partnership for veterinary research and education and the first of its kind in the sector.

According to Dr Wendy Nicholson, ERI’s Head of Business Development: “Winning the competition against some tough competition is fantastic, and acknowledges the successes that ERI has achieved with BBSRC-funded research outputs at the University. We are very excited about having won this funding, which will allow us to put our ideas into practice.”

Sparking impact

ERI plans to build on this success and further embed a culture of KEC to invigorate the next generation of research entrepreneurs. The new 'sparking impact' initiative incorporates three core knowledge exchange and commercialisation elements:

(i) Technology Scouts: to utilise the key skills and knowledge of researchers to stimulate more active engagement in the knowledge exchange process by identifying ‘Technology Scouts’, based within the relevant Institute or Centre, who would be tasked with trying to ‘spot’ commercial opportunities from the research base.

(ii) Mini-Secondments: to support short interchanges between academic and industry labs to bring together the thinking of the academic and industrial staff, to develop trust and relationships that can be leveraged for future collaborative projects and effective knowledge exchange.

(iii) Future Scoping Workshops: to host focused scoping workshops with academics to predict the problems the market will face in the future and what solutions might address it, with relevant technology scouts attending industry focussed conferences to build contacts and a better knowledge of the market landscape in particular areas of interest.

ERI will pilot this initiative with the Edinburgh Infectious Disease consortium, an interdisciplinary research hub that brings together over 700 active researchers across the spectrum of infectious disease science and clinical medicine at the University of Edinburgh. The Consortium is a strategically important research area for the University and also aligns well with BBSRC priority areas and areas of major funding from the BBSRC into the University.

The successful elements of this pilot will be rolled out to other areas of research strength at the University, such as Industrial Biotechnology and Biosciences underpinning health.

Impact acceleration initiatives

Edinburgh Research and Innovation already has a number of 'impact acceleration' initiatives established at the University thanks to similar funding from NERC ('NERC IAA') and EPSRC ('EPSRC IAA'), which helped set up a Commercial Relations Team, who are proactively looking to establish long term strategic relationships with both small and large industrial partners across a variety of industrial sectors.

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