Scots uni kickstarts programme for robotics entrepreneurs

ENTREPRENEURS are turning their ideas into reality, as the University of Edinburgh Venture Builder Incubator (VBI) programme expands.

Its participants specialise in robotics, hardware and autonomous systems, as well as artificial intelligence (AI)

The expansion is due to match-funding from the Barclays Eagle Labs Ecosystem Partnership Programme, funded by the UK Government.

VBI has expanded to to postgraduate students, early-career researchers, academic staff and recent alumni based anywhere in Scotland.

Inside the Bayes Centre, which the new participants will have access to.
Robots on display inside the Bayes Centre, which participants in the programme will have access to.

The programme has today unveiled the 26 start-ups and early-stage businesses delivering innovative solutions across sectors including life sciences, biotech and renewable energy.

They will have the opportunity to receive a share of £100,000 and mentoring from experts, as well as interactive workshops, professional networking events and access to the Bayes Centre’s facilities in Edinburgh.

VBI is working with the centre for robotics and AI, the National Robotarium, a Data-Driven Innovation hub based at Heriot-Watt University, to offer tailored support for robotics projects.

The UK robotics industry is projected to grow by more than 7% by 2028, as part of a global robotics technology market valued in excess of $87bn which is projected to surpass $349bn by 2032.

VBI is delivered by the University of Edinburgh’s Innovation Hub for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence and the Bayes Centre – part of the Data-Driven Innovation Initiative – with support from Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service. 

Duncan Martin, Head of Entrepreneurship at the, Bayes Centre, said: “Venture Builder Incubator specialises in bridging the gap between academia and entrepreneurship, transforming ideas that have societal and industrial impact into reality.

“In particular, the expansion of our 2023 programme will support the development of robotics and autonomous systems companies across Scotland.

“Working with Barclays Eagle Labs Ecosystem Partnership Programme and funded by the UK Government, we can include entrepreneurs working in hardware and robotics from across Scotland for the first time.

“At the University of Edinburgh, our incubator and startup programmes are helping to deliver the skills and knowledge vital to Scotland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and connect budding entrepreneurs with like-minded individuals and industry partners to unlock new collaboration opportunities.

“If you have an idea that can make a real impact, we want to help you bring it to life.”

Matt Corbidge, Head of Eagle Labs, Barclays said: “The opportunity to match-funding for this programme will have a marked impact on the businesses it touches within robotics and highlight the possibilities for growth more broadly across the sector. 

“The programme will provide entrepreneurs with the opportunity to connect and collaborate, drive growth and work on the commercialisation of their product or service offering – all whilst accessing state of the art facilities within the prestigious grounds of the University of Edinburgh.”

Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy, Paul Scully said: “Start-ups in Edinburgh are at the forefront of innovation in robotics and AI, poised to redefine global technology standards. 

“The Digital Growth Grant will help the University of Edinburgh’s Venture Builder Incubator empower researchers to transform cutting-edge science into viable commercial ventures, boosting the UK’s reputation as an incubator for advanced technology.”

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