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Venture platform aims to build agritech start-ups

Partnership seeks to create ambitious companies in animal health, agritech and aquaculture.

Charnock Bradley building

An initiative to launch companies in the food and agricultural science sector is being created by the Roslin Institute and investment firm Deep Science Ventures.

The project, the Food & Agriculture Science Transformer (FAST) programme, will seek to develop the sector’s first billion-pound start-up company.

The first venture studio of its type in Scotland aims to combine Deep Science Ventures’ (DSV) experience in creating science companies with the Roslin Institute’s world-leading expertise and facilities across genomics, veterinary biosciences, biotechnology and agriculture.

Each year the partnership will seek to launch several high growth technology start-ups comprising teams from the University of Edinburgh, the wider UK, and the rest of the world.

FAST will operate from the Roslin Innovation Centre (RIC) at the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Campus, also at DSV’s headquarters in London, and online.

Develop potential

Its partners aim to select global commercial and technology opportunities, and recruit and train founders to create agricultural and biotech companies that can meet the needs of farmers, the public and the environment.

Newly formed companies that arise from the venture can be based at RIC’s flexible, open plan office space and first-class laboratory accommodation.

Founders are recruited to investigate neglected areas in which high impact could be made by bringing together science from multiple technological fields.

DSV’s agriculture portfolio includes Beta Bugs, based at the Roslin Innovation Centre, which develops high performance insect breeds for the rapidly growing insect feed market, and PES Technologies, which is developing a product that allows farmers to test soil health on the spot in fields.

I am very excited by the prospect of this FAST programme, which is a highly unique approach to company formation. Attracting world-wide scientific and entrepreneurial talent and combining them with market-led opportunities to create companies of scale in Animal Health, Agritech and/or Aquaculture (AAA). FAST will hopefully find and create the first AAA unicorn company, which will only augment our world leading position at the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Campus.

John MackenzieChief Executive Officer, Roslin Innovation Centre:

FAST offers a transformative opportunity to accelerate the entrepreneurial culture at Easter Bush. I’m particularly grateful to Edinburgh Innovations, the University of Edinburgh’s commercialisation service, which introduced DSV to the Roslin Institute and identified the joint opportunity for a novel approach to company creation.

Professor Bruce WhitelawInterim Director of the Roslin Institute

[The partnership] is creating much-needed room for science founders to build game-changing technologies and business models that work for food security, climate change, and biodiversity loss. Over the coming years, our ambition is to work with the right founders and partners, and create hundreds of high value jobs at the intersection of technology and agriculture. It's fantastic to have Roslin on board as our first partner, and we’re now recruiting our founding teams.

Edward PerelloAssociate Director for Agriculture, DSV

Alongside Edinburgh Innovations, the Roslin Foundation and the UK Research and Innovation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (UKRI BBSRC) are providing support to the FAST programme.

Related links

Deep Science Ventures

Roslin Innovation Centre

Edinburgh Innovations

Beta Bugs

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