Innovation awards celebrate entrepreneurs
Students, staff and recent graduates have been recognised in the University’s innovation awards.
Human-like skin for robots, bespoke synthetic voices for people who lose theirs through illness, and re-usable sanitary products were among the prize-winning inventions celebrated at the Inspire Launch Grow awards.
The annual competition for entrepreneurial students, staff and alumni was hosted by Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service, in the Playfair Library.
Awards of up to £5,000 were presented across five categories, judged by entrepreneurs and business advisers. Finalists had previously pitched their businesses and social enterprises to the judges.
Skin for robots
School of Engineering PhD student Zakareya Hussein and Product Design masters student Laura Garcia Caberol won the Emerging Innovation Award for Students for their company Touchlab.
They are developing an electronic skin that can be wrapped around any robot to give it a human-like sense of touch, including pain when poked with sharp objects.
Taking the Emerging Innovation Award for Staff were research assistants Alice Smith from Edinburgh Medical School and Lovisa Wihlborg from the School of Informatics, for Speak:Unique.
Their technology creates personalised synthetic replica voices for people with conditions such as motor neurone disease.
The winner of the Social and Environment Award was Alison Wood, a recent graduate of the School of Economics and founder of the company Lilypads.
Her social enterprise began in Kenya, addressing a lack of affordable sanitary products that prevents girls from attending school. It has now introduced a washable sanitary product to the UK market.
The Enterprise Award went to postdoctoral researcher Dr Alireza Abbassi Monjezi of the School of Engineering. He is the creator of Waterwhelm, a technology that turns wastewater into clean water while simultaneously producing renewable energy.
Dr Luca Cassetta, Research Fellow in the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, took the Innovation Cup for his company Macomics, which is developing antibody-based cancer therapeutics.
All of the winners in Inspire Launch Grow 2019 are clients of Edinburgh Innovations, which provides a range of free services to students, staff and recent graduates to commercialise their ideas or research discoveries.
The awards ceremony was attended by more than 100 guests from the across the University and beyond, including members of the investment community who regularly support start-ups and spin-outs launched by students and staff.
The finalists have come up with some amazing ideas and shown the necessary enterprising spirit and energy to take them forward as solid business propositions. It’s always an honour to support our staff and student entrepreneurs.