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Cancer Research UK Forms New Partnership with Edinburgh Uni

Victoria Roberts

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Cancer research Edinburgh uni
The partnership will help fund a second round of start-up companies run by entrepreneurial students and researchers.

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) will fund up to 10 participants in the university’s Data-Driven Entrepreneurship (DDE) Venture Builder Incubator.

This currently supports postgraduate students, postdoctoral researchers and academic staff in developing innovative startup ideas for three months. 

Applicants can be PhD students and postdoctoral researchers at the University of Edinburgh or Heriot-Watt University, or research staff from anywhere in the UK. Researchers do not need to be currently funded by CRUK to participate. 

Cancer Research UK’s involvement in the DDE Venture Builder Incubator is part of the charity’s UK-wide support programme for entrepreneurial activity. 

Iain Foulkes, Executive Director of Research and Innovation at Cancer Research UK, said, “As the funders of much of the world-class, cutting-edge cancer research in the UK, we know how important it is that these discoveries make it out of the lab and into the clinic.

“Encouraging entrepreneurship in our researchers is key to achieving this, which is why we are excited to be a part of the DDE Venture Builder Incubator.

“Through access to bespoke training, one-to-one support and new networks to help them navigate the translation process, this incubator will provide a conduit for our most enterprising researchers to accelerate their life-saving discoveries into the hands of patients.”

The DDE Venture Builder Incubator provides each recipient group with £2,000, workshops, networking events, tailored mentoring, one-to-one support and access to the University of Edinburgh’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

The incubator makes up part of the university’s Data-Driven Entrepreneurship Beacon Programme to support post-Covid recovery. Funding for the programme comes from the Data Driven Innovation Programme of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Regional Deal. 

Cancer-related projects are expected to form half of the incubator’s second cohort. The incubator has also formed a partnership with FinTech Scotland to enhance its network to support more entrepreneurship. 

The first cohort of the DDE’s Venture Builder Incubator saw 27 startups supported between April and July 2021. Projects ranged from apps to save time for educational teachers and support elderly family members, to robotic systems for sorting waste and monitoring the environment. 

During this first round of participation in the incubator, entrepreneurs recruited 23 new members of staff, formally incorporated four companies, developed seven minimum viable products and raised over £250,000 in grants, awards and investments. 

Edinburgh Innovations, the university’s commercialisation service, will oversee the management of the incubator, which the Bayes Centre will deliver on behalf of the university’s five Data-Driven Innovation Hubs.


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Dr John Lonsdale, Head of Enterprise Services at Edinburgh Innovations, said, “The Venture Builder Incubator has proven itself a powerful tool that sets innovators on a firm course to success as entrepreneurs.

“To partner with Cancer Research UK to support up to 10 of our teams adds a new dimension to the impact the Incubator will achieve.”

The delivery of the programme is supported by Edinburgh-based strategic design consultancy, Nile, and Edventure – a pan-European university venture builder and accelerator launched in 2020 by three Edinburgh students. 

Applications are open until 1st October 2021. The second cohort of the DDE Venture Builder Incubator will begin their programme in late November. Businesses will have a chance to win £5,000 at the end-of-programme Demo Day in March, at which point they will pitch their business plans in front of an expert judging panel. 

Victoria Roberts

Staff Writer

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