Year in Review 2021

Thursday 6th January 2022, 1:00pm

There is no doubt the impact and restrictions imposed as a result of COVID-19 made 2020/21 another challenging year for all of us and required Roslin Innovation Centre to implement new ways of working and operating within our public areas, lab and office space for the safety of colleagues, tenants and visitors.

In the last few months, we have welcomed the gradual return to Roslin Innovation Centre and Easter Bush Campus, and can once again fully experience the energy and enthusiasm for collaboration, the drive for innovation and business growth, as we work together to tackle global challenges - and those closer to home - head on. 

Wobble Genomics team and investors outside Roslin Innovation Centre

We have been ‘open for business’ now for over four years, since August 2017 and our unique business gateway to innovation continues to nurture entrepreneurship, growth and collaboration within the dynamic environment of Easter Bush Campus. 

Our occupancy is now at the optimal target of 85%, with 31 tenant companies ranging from established local and international organisations, start-ups and spin-outs, to community interest companies.

Our entrepreneurs continue to shine. Beta Bugs Ltd, an insect farming innovator, expanded their team and launched a new insect breeding facility on Campus. The entrepreneurial company develop and distribute high-performance breeds of Black Soldier Fly for the 'insects as feed' industry.

Ishani Malhotra, MD and founder of Carcinotech Ltd, a MedTech company has achieved significant success and recognition for the innovative manufacturing of 3D cancer research models and joins a six-month AI Accelerator – part of a wider Data Driven Entrepreneurship (DDE) programme at the Bayes Centre - together with neighbouring tenant and fish health experts, Pulcea Ltd, also being part of the current DDE cohort.

Rhizocore Technologies Ltd, an applied mycology start-up developing novel propagation techniques for woodland restoration, joined us as part of Food & Agriculture Science Transformer (FAST) in partnership with Deep Science Ventures. FAST, a paradigm shift in scientific company creation, is a pilot programme to develop and build new high growth tech companies for Scotland’s agricultural bioeconomy, through an iterative process that delivers founding team members, advisors, technologies, customers and investors, all designed to succeed and scale.

Another one to watch is Wobble Genomics Ltd, a spin-out of the Roslin Institute, providing biochemical and bioinformatic solutions for gene biomarker discovery, with a successful £1.2 million investment round supporting expansion of the team and relocation to Roslin Innovation Centre, and also helping to drive sales and demonstrate the company's ability to improve clinical outcomes.

The recent arrival of Dyneval Ltd is also a great strategic fit for Roslin Innovation Centre. The company is delivering world-leading innovation that could make a significant difference to the agri-food supply chain, and the drive towards more sustainable farming practices and has secured total funding of over £1.8M to establish a new quality control standard for semen analysis that will benefit users across the livestock production chain on a global scale.

Our open plan office space is truly buzzing again... with Beebytes, a social enterprise specialising in honey bee genetics and DNA analyses, formed by members of an expert team with research work based at the Roslin Institute, apiary management at Easter Bush Campus and King's Buildings and holding key roles in Beekeepers’ Associations. On a regional scale, Midlothian Science Zone has put Midlothian on the B-Line, 'insect pathways' mapped by BugLife, in recognition of the abundance of wildflower-rich habitats ‘in the zone’ and the benefits of these to bees, butterflies and other wildlife.  

Meanwhile, tenant companies that joined us in the early days continue to grow. Following a successful year of collaboration, AbacusBio Ltd and global multinational, Bayer, have agreed to expand their partnership in the area of predictive plant breeding and this marks the company’s largest collaboration to date, and is anticipated to have a far-reaching impact among numerous crop supply chains.  

Also making scientific breakthroughs in new approaches is Roslin Technologies Ltd. The company is at the centre of commercialising lab-generated cultivated meat for commercial sale and is working with partners across the globe, including those in Singapore, one of the first countries in the world to give approval to cultivated meat for human consumption.

So, although this year has been very much one of Covid-19 restricted consolidation, even under these challenging times we reflect on the many positive highlights and achievements which steer us forward to a strong and optimistic position for the year ahead – and beyond.

A3 Scotland 2022 is one of the key dates already highlighted on our calendar! Postponed from last year, our inaugural conference for the Animal Health, Agritech and Aquaculture (AAA) sectors is rescheduled to 26th & 27th April and has retained the high-level sponsors, including Zoetis Ltd, and features influential and expert speakers to encourage innovation, investment and collaboration under the theme of Transition to Net Zero.

"Despite a very difficult couple of years for us all, Roslin Innovation Centre has proved to be very Covid-19 resilient, and has continued with some great business under circumstances not quite as usual!”  

 John Mackenzie, CEO, Roslin Innovation Centre 
The University of Edinburgh Dick Vet News graphic featuring a stag and a mountain background

For more 2021 highlights from Easter Bush Campus and the incredible work of our colleagues and students take a look at Issue 33 of the Dick Vet News (PDF) including stories on teaching through the pandemic, working to help fight Covid-19, and much more.

The stunning front cover photograph was submitted to World Wildlife Day staff photo competition by John Pate, Lecturer in Equine Practice at Glen Etive.