Award for student innovation

The University‘s excellence at encouraging student entrepreneurs has been nationally recognised.

At the EducationInvestor Awards 2011, LAUNCH.ed, the University’s free support service for student entrepreneurs, won the award for Higher Education Innovation.

It beat off strong competition from other UK institutions, including the Universities of Cambridge, Warwick and Glasgow.

In the past academic year, LAUNCH.ed has supported the creation of 30 new companies formed by University students - a record.

In addition, its new Accelerator Pipeline initiative, which provides support for postgraduate students who intend to build high-growth businesses in Scotland, has helped new companies to develop their ideas and grow.

This is an important moment for us as we're seen as delivering the top innovation programme in the UK. It's a fantastic achievement for the LAUNCH.ed team and all involved.

Grant WheelerHead of Company Formation and Incubation, Edinburgh Research and Innovation


LAUNCH.ed provides support for student entrepreneurs involved in forming businesses whilst they are studying at the University, or soon after they have graduated.

It supplies formal and extra-curricular seminars and workshops, and on-site support.

In addition, its Accelerator Pipeline initiative provides students with:

  • one-to-one business support from a team of qualified company formation advisors
  • company formation and business growth workshops aimed at high-growth businesses
  • mentoring by technology entrepreneurs
  • business incubation services at one of the University’s three incubation centres
  • access to laboratory facilities and support
  • patent support and funding through relationships with local patent attorneys
  • professional services clinics, allowing student technology entrepreneurs to engage with lawyers and accountants
  • project funding support, in which the University makes funds available in order to make critical contributions for further laboratory or market development work

Companies formed through the Accelerator Pipeline initiative include:

  • Peekabu Studios, which develops motion controls for web applications and won the 2010 national Scottish Institute for Enterprise Business Plan Competition
  • Speech Graphics, which has developed a low-cost solution for video games producers seeking to animate the speech of characters

It's great to get national recognition for the the Accelerator Pipeline programme and would like to thank the LAUNCH.ed team, our volunteer mentors, Edinburgh Research and Innovation, the University, and for the funding support from Interreg IVB - all vital partners in the project.

Becci DiffordSenior Company Formation Executive, Edinburgh Research and Innovation

Long history

A research and commercialisation group - now known as Edinburgh Research and Innovation (ERI) - was first created at the University in 1969.

Since that time, the University has had great success at turning the business ideas of students and staff into reality.

The University's achievements include:

  • Developing the first genetically engineered vaccine against Hepatitis B
  • Creating the Smart Wheelchair for children with severe disabilities
  • Pioneering the use of amniotic fluid tests in pregnancy to detect birth defects

Major companies spun out from the University include:

  • MTEM, an oil surveyor - the largest firm created from a Scottish university
  • Wolfson Microelectronics, a leading supplier of electronic components to Apple

New companies

In total, 35 new firms were created in the 2010-2011 academic year, further strengthening the University’s position as Scotland’s leading research institution.

The success follows on from the 40 companies created in 2009-2010, a record for a Scottish university.

In the past academic year, Old College Capital, the University’s new investment arm was launched. This will inject investment funding into some of the University’s leading spin-out and start-up companies.

In February, Old College Capital made its first investment of £200,000 into NGenTec, a renewable energy technology spin-out firm formed from the University’s School of Engineering.