Deep Science Ventures and the University of Edinburgh have launched the Food & Agriculture Science Transformer (FAST) programme to design a number of innovative high growth start-ups operating exclusively in the agriculture sector. We are currently recruiting people with specialist domain knowledge who want to co-found agritech companies.
No prior IP or “idea” required.
The FAST programme brings together DSV’s market-led approach to creating science companies, and the Roslin Institute’s world-leading expertise and facilities across genomics, veterinary biosciences, biotechnology and agriculture. Each year the partnership will launch several high growth technology start-ups comprising teams from the University of Edinburgh, the wider UK, and the rest of the world.
The programme is open to early career researchers with interest in science entrepreneurship. We are not looking for ideas, but for highly driven people with expertise in agricultural technologies, and an overwhelming desire to change the way things are done.
Since launching in April 2020, within six month FAST had recruited three Founding Analysts - one for each of our identified 'Opportunity Areas' : Animal Aquaculture, Alternative Pollinators, Controlled Environment Agriculture (more details below).
Our aim is to develop three to five new scale up companies by March 2021, with £50k of equity funding made available to each.
We are currently building out our FAST founding teams for two company concepts and are recruiting entrepreneurial scientists to join us in advancing the concepts, technologies and products before incorporation.
The aim and focus is also on attracting founder talent to Scotland, by targeting scientific entrepreneurial ambition and matching those aspiring to be in business with our Opportunity Areas, as scoped out by FAST.
A selection of FAST Opportunity Areas we are currently exploring and building new company founder teams in:
CELLULAR AGRICULTURE AND NEW MATERIALS
Our most sustainable material products are derived from the production of biological tissues. Therefore, we are exploring methods that could grow cell tissues indoors and how to turn these methods into industrial scale manufacturing processes. We are looking for individuals with a drive to solve issues with global agriculture. Ideally you will have prior experience working with cells and the use of bioreactors or have experience with the development of new materials. Read more
OPTIMISE BEE POPULATION
We are designing strategies that allow us to increase the productive capacity of solitary bees, to be able to offer them at never before seen commercial scales that will allow us to maximise benefits to farmers and ecosystems. We’re after people who genuinely care about the decline of insects and want to develop new commercially-driven projects aimed at increasing the survival of pollinators and the persistence of their ecological function under increasing pressure from humans. Read more
DOMESTICATE POLLINATING FLIES
We are designing strategies that allow us to maximise benefits to farmers and ecosystems by domesticating and breeding new pollinator species. We are considering a variety of approaches. We’re after people who genuinely care about the decline of insects and want to develop new commercially-driven projects aimed at increasing the survival of pollinators and the persistence of their ecological function under increasing pressure from humans. Read more
ASSISTED ECOSYSTEM REGENERATION
The aim is to utilise the cumulative acquired knowledge of indoor controlled ag environments and apply it outside to enhance ecosystem regeneration, especially in forestry projects. We're exploring biological methods of soil enrichment to develop technologies that enhance atmospheric CO2 concentrations around areas of vegetation growth, as well as ecological techniques to alter the biological environment to boost the speed of ecosystem growth. Read more
More quality positions will become available for more entrepreneurial scientific talent, in more FAST new companies that are being created.
We are not looking for IP or any sort of business plan. Simply review which of the three Opportunity Areas you are most excited about and for which you have relevant experience.
Aquaculture is the fastest growing segment in the entire agriculture sector, and presents a major opportunity to meet growing food security challenges, but it is generally hindered by poor environmental performance which is exacerbating the planet’s biodiversity crisis.
There are unexploited opportunities to increase yields by bringing new varieties of pollinator species under management, especially for crops that are dependent on insect pollination for fruit set in regions in which honey bees are unable to perform adequately.
We see opportunities to create companies that reset the calorie equation by shifting agriculture away from being solely about production and extraction of calories, toward achieving this alongside the restoration (or avoidance of tampering with) the enabling natural systems that supply them.
Deep Science Ventures (DSV) and the University of Edinburgh launch the Food & Agriculture Science Transformer (FAST), an ambitious programme creating the first venture studio in Scotland.
The programme will provide scientists with opportunities to research, design and then start their own science startups at the intersection of agriculture, food security and ecological sustainability - and get paid to do it. Entrepreneurial scientists are being recruited to join, develop technology company concepts, and receive investment of up to £500,000 from Deep Science Ventures.
For more information about the programme, please register to watch on-demand recording of a webinar (hosted on 14 May)
This partnership brings the Roslin Institute’s world-leading facilities and expertise in functional genomics, animal disease, and veterinary clinical biosciences together with Deep Science Ventures’ unique venture design process to identify critical commercial and technical approaches around which high growth ventures and teams can be built. Our aim is to identify and bring together entrepreneurial scientists, academic advisors and investors to design and build new companies in agriculture.
"I am very excited by the prospect of this FAST programme, which is a highly unique approach to company formation."
"Attracting world-wide scientific and entrepreneurial talent and combining them with market-led opportunities to create companies of scale in Animal Health, Agri-tech and/or Aquaculture (AAA), FAST will hopefully find and create the first AAA unicorn company, which will only augment our world leading position at the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Campus."John Mackenzie, CEO, Roslin Innovation Centre