Dozens of data start-ups backed to make mark

Twenty-seven projects have been chosen for a University-backed scheme which aims to create companies that use data to solve major global challenges.

Venture Builder Incubator cohort
Venture Builder Incubator cohort

The Data-Driven Entrepreneurship Venture Builder Incubator will support postgraduate students, post-doctoral researchers and academic staff to transform their research projects into sustainable businesses.

Ideas include using AI to sort waste, the creation of an app to highlight the need for early intervention around mental health and a platform that would help older people live independently for longer, while still being supported by their family.

The Incubator is part of the ambitious Data-Driven Entrepreneurship (DDE) Beacon Programme at the University of Edinburgh, to support post-Covid recovery.

We have been delighted at the response we have had to this innovative programme. The University of Edinburgh is recognised worldwide for the quality of its research and this programme will make an important contribution to unlocking the benefits of that research for communities and the economy.  "We will be supporting these entrepreneurial researchers from idea to business launch.

Dr John LonsdaleHead of Enterprise Services, Edinburgh Innovations, University of Edinburgh


The Incubator is the first to include students from Heriot-Watt University as well as the University of Edinburgh, making it a pioneering collaboration between the two universities.

We are delighted to have some of our most promising entrepreneurial students participate in the inaugural Venture Builder Incubator and have an opportunity to collaborate with students from each of the Data-Driven Innovation Hubs.

Paul DevlinHead of Commercialisation, Heriot-Watt University

It is also the first University of Edinburgh scheme to be delivered in partnership with edventure – a European university venture builder and accelerator founded by three Edinburgh students, Zara Zaman, Ragnor Comerford and Fynn Comerford.

Since its launch in September 2020, edventure has grown to a team of more than 40 people, with more than half of them women, helping more than 200 students to build start-ups at universities across Europe.

The DDE Venture Builder Incubator is managed by Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service and delivered by the Bayes Centre on behalf of the University’s five Data-Driven Innovation Hubs. It is delivered in partnership with Edinburgh-based strategic design consultancy Nile, as well as edventure.


Applications were received from across the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University.

The majority of projects selected are based on PhD research, with initiatives from masters students, post-doctoral researchers and staff also participating. Healthcare, climate change, animal care, finances and robotics are among the areas participants will work on during the three-month programme.

The Bayes Centre is excited to deliver the Venture Builder Incubator on behalf of the DDI hubs. These early-stage projects will benefit from the support of our community of over 400 internationally recognised scientists, leading industry experts, entrepreneurs and investors. I look forward to working with them to establish new dynamic businesses that will deliver data technology solutions to real-world problems.

Jim AsheDirector of Innovation, Bayes Centre, University of Edinburgh

Sustainable businesses

The cohort will benefit from tailored content and support, mentoring and conferences to

develop their entrepreneurial ideas and bring their research to market.

Through the Data Driven Innovation (DDI) programme of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, each of the 27 initiatives will also receive a £2,000 grant from the Scottish Funding Council or Heriot-Watt.

Our team is very excited to be part of the incubator. We're all looking forward to meeting like-minded individuals and hope that we can collaborate to help both our own and other projects move forward to help address current societal challenges.

Claire Ann BangaPhD Clinical Psychology student and founder of eMoodie- a digital platform to give people tools and interventions to manage their mental health.

The DDI programme, which is part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, aims to help Edinburgh become the Data Capital of Europe, creating wide-reaching benefits for the economy and society.

Related links

DDE Beacon Programme

Incubator projects  

EI services for students

Heriot-Watt enterprise