15 PIONEERING AI START-UPS RAISE £6.27M ON NEW AI ACCELERATOR PROGRAMME FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH
- 15 trailblazing organisations have successfully secured £6.27m in investment, awards and created 12 jobs.
- The University of Edinburgh and Scale Space launched the new AI Accelerator in February 2021.
- Delivered as a Cross Data Driven Innovation Hub Programme by Edinburgh Innovations and the Bayes Centre, in partnership with Scale Space, successful companies include BioLiberty, Neeuro, and Reath, who have received international recognition.
- Applications are now open for the next programme which runs for six months from September. Final deadline for applications is 8th August 2021.
- Click here to apply
£6.27m has been raised by 15 innovative businesses selected for the first AI for Post Covid Recovery Accelerator programme, building on previous activities, launched by the University of Edinburgh and Scale Space, the workspace community dedicated to scaleups. Scale Space’s partnership with the University of Edinburgh provided the cohort with access to the wide range of expertise, mentoring and knowledge to help the cohort grow faster and stronger in addition to links into London investment.
The five-month AI Accelerator Programme, based at the Bayes Centre, ran from February until July 2021, and sought to help these pioneering AI start-ups with high growth potential to scale globally and go on and become world-leading companies. The programme has been funded by the Scottish Funding Council and the DDI Programme.
Many of the companies are addressing a global challenge or responding to urgent needs in the health and climate change domains. Entrepreneurs creating AI powered robotic gloves, personalised medicine, through to ‘x-ray vision’ software were some of the 15 trail blazing organisations selected and the table below provides a full breakdown of funding secured:
Raised £1.3m as an initial tranche of a larger investment round [£2.5]
MyWay Digital Health
Awarded £1.2m AI Award from NHSx
Other investments include:
- Another 3M of investments expected in the next month
Participants on the first cohort also achieved success beyond funding:
- Lenz Labs – awarded a contract for £343,000 as part of the First of a Kind competition by the Department for Transport [DIT], United Kingdom and Innovate UK
- Reath – secured a pilot of their technology with Marks & Spencer, helping to improve and track re-use of their packaging.
- Zeg – achieved their ever fastest raise following attendance at an investor event run during the programme.
Charlotte Waugh, Enterprise and Innovation Programme Lead, Edinburgh Innovations, said:
“Edinburgh continues to be a place where entrepreneurs flourish and investment opportunities abound. The AI For Post Covid Accelerator demonstrates that AI is a key investor focus, successfully scaling 15 companies during a difficult year when new, AI technologies were needed to lead the post covid revolution. The companies have made good use of the expertise and support on offer and scaled in a very short time – a testament to their hard work, a great programme team and the thriving ecosystem The University, DDI and Scale Space are delivering through this cutting edge Accelerator. ”
Mark Sanders, CEO, Scale Space and EIR said:
“I’ve been delighted with the progress that the participants have made, and I’ve seen them refining their propositions, being clearer about their growth plans and how they solve customer problems. This has helped them sharpen up their offer to investors and as many have secured investment, I look forward to seeing them continue to scaleup and realise their potential.”
Jim Ashe, Director of Innovation, Bayes Centre, College of Science and Engineering said:
“The University of Edinburgh is home to the largest centre for computing science and informatics in Europe. The AI Accelerator has delivered investment opportunities for our data driven AI cohort companies enabling business growth. The AI Accelerator is hosted at the Universities’ Bayes Centre, which provides a dynamic environment - enabling connections with investors, mentors and their peers.”
On their funding and scaling success, businesses on the cohort said:
- Sharktower - Craig MacKay, CEO:
During the programme we have closed a Seed round of just under £400k, as well as significantly increasing our early customer traction. The AI Accelerator programme specifically helping with refining our position positioning, pitch messaging as well as our pricing and sales models for Sharktower.
- Reath – Emily Rogers, COO:
During Edinburgh AI Accelerator program, we closed a round of £313k. The Accelerator gave us access to great mentors, future funders and gave us personalised coaching for our timed pitch style!
- Neeuro – Alvin Chan, Founder:
During the programme we had closed an investment round to proceed with manufacturing and scaling up our business. The AI programme had helped us to think deeper into how we can satisfy our customers, meet demands and most importantly in articulating our pitches.
- My Way digital Health – Debbie Wake, CEO:
During the programme we raised £1.2m in grant funding to support AI product development and AI regulatory work. The AI Accelerator programme have supported us in understanding our commercial growth strategy better and helped refine our pitch skills.
- iLoF - Luis Valente, Founder:
We joined the DDI program as a way to facilitate our strategy of increasing our engagement with the Scottish tech ecosystem. It couldn't have been a better decision: while a stellar curriculum covering all topics from sales, fundraising and tech, the program allowed us to receive mentoring from world-class advisers, which many times helped us navigate through the difficulties of growing a deep tech startup.
In the end, all this facilitated the attraction of £1.3M in funding, and left long-lasting effects in our partnerships with academic centres, other startups and the whole ecosystem as a whole. Would certainly recommend to any Pre-Series A startup!
- BioLiberty - Rowan Armstrong, Co Founder:
"The post-covid AI accelerator has helped us in a lot of different aspects: building a team, selling into healthcare, taking on investment, branding, design thinking and many more. All four of our co-founders are from engineering backgrounds so gaining knowledge in scaling a business has been extremely important. We have been able to identify more customers, raise £35,000 and have built relationships with investors through demo day and investor pitches organised by Katy and Fabrizio. We benefited from the network and experience of the cohort and have built relationships with key opinion leaders in the rehabilitation industry. The accelerator also strengthened our relationship with Academia at the University of Edinburgh, and has heavily influenced our R&D.
One key benefit of the accelerator was working with The Data Lab to bring on a PhD placement student. Our newest team member has driven our prototype forwards significantly and really integrated themselves into the team – with all the initial work at no cost to us. We would not be where we are today without the accelerator and look forward to working with the team at Edinburgh Innovations, the Bayes Centre, the Data Lab, the Usher Institute and Scale Space in the future. If you are thinking of applying and worried that you are too early stage, just go for it! We were the earliest stage company on the accelerator and probably benefitted the most from the programme."
About the AI Accelerator Programme
The programme is designed to accelerate the best AI start-ups in the UK/Scotland, Europe and beyond to scale globally within a short timeframe and aims to attract disruptive scale-ups that apply AI with high-growth potential while helping them grow into world-leading companies. The University of Edinburgh is home to the largest centres for computing science and informatics in Europe.
The deadline for applications is the 8th August 2021 and the programme will run for six months from the 22nd September to the 18th March 2022.
Companies on the current programme include; BioLiberty, designers of an AI-powered robotic glove that strengthens the user’s grip, Neeuro, which utilises Brain-Computer Interface technology to help ADHD children improve their attention span and Reath, who enable companies to find compliant and scalable solutions for reusing single use items that have been sent to landfill.
The AI Accelerator is financed by Scottish Funding Council through the Data Driven Innovation (DDI) programme.
AI Accelerator participants benefited from specific and tailored advice as well as group working sessions and conferences to help their businesses grow. Examples include:
- Mentoring on business fundamentals such as securing investment, business modelling and financing, talent management and sales and marketing.
- Expert advice from industry leaders.
- The opportunity to work at Scale Space for the London residential element, Covid rules permitting. This will include the opportunity to meet Scale Space businesses and benefit from networking and insight events in Scale Space White City.
- Access to national and international investors and other funding opportunities.
The 15 companies will each receive a £9,000 grant from the Scottish Funding Council through the Data Driven Innovation (DDI) scheme.
The Programme will also be supported by NILE. NILE is a multi-talented strategic design team, headquartered in Edinburgh, distributed worldwide. NILE works with multinationals to the start-up next door, to discover, innovate and design better ways to connect with people amidst the complexity of the world today.