Case Studies

Deep Science Ventures & University of Edinburgh launch Food & Agriculture Science Transformer

The University of Edinburgh, The Roslin Institute and Deep Science Ventures

Can Do Collective speak with John Mackenzie, CEO, Roslin Innovation Centre to find out more about why the collective impact was so important for the success of the Food & Agriculture Science Transformer (FAST) programme?

an ambitious programme creating the first venture studio in Scotland

The FAST programme brings together DSV’s market-led approach to creating science companies, and the Roslin Institute’s world-leading expertise and facilities across genomics, veterinary biosciences, biotechnology and agriculture. Each year the partnership is set to launch several high growth technology start-ups comprising teams from the University of Edinburgh, the wider UK, and the rest of the world.


This partnership brings the Roslin Institute’s world-leading facilities and expertise in functional genomics, animal disease, and veterinary clinical biosciences together with Deep Science Ventures’ unique venture design process will together identify critical commercial and technical approaches around which high growth ventures and teams can be built.

FAST currently operates virtually but will soon be jointly located at the Roslin Innovation Centre (RIC), which is based within the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Campus and DSV London-based headquarters. The Roslin Institute offers flexible office and laboratory open-plan accommodation with quick, easy and secure subdivision and companies formed can be based at RIC with access to state-of-the-art facilities.

Deep Science Ventures was established to create a founder-friendly method for launching high growth science companies with novel IP, and its approach is to develop each company and its team creation over the course of a year. Founders are recruited to investigate neglected areas in which high impact could be made by unifying innovative science from multiple technological domains.

The core objective of the collective project is to identify and bring together entrepreneurial scientists, academic advisors and investors to design and build new companies in agriculture. The programme is open to early-career researchers with an interest in science entrepreneurship. Particular areas of interest include improving agricultural sustainability, tackling the decline of pollinators and refining indoor farming.

Edinburgh Innovations, the University of Edinburgh’s commercialisation service, is providing support to the FAST programme with funding provided by the Roslin Foundation and the UK Research and Innovation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (UKRI BBSRC).

The collective vision is to deploy innovative science and select globally relevant commercial and technology opportunities, recruit and train ambitious founders from the Edinburgh ecosystem and the world beyond to create agricultural and biotech companies that can respond to the needs of farmers, the public and the planet’s ecosystems.


Edward Perello who is the associate director for agriculture at Deep Science Ventures comments,

“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.”

John Mackenzie, CEO, Roslin Innovation Centre comments,

“I am very excited by the prospect of this FAST programme, which is a highly unique approach to company formation. Attracting worldwide scientific and entrepreneurial talent and combining them with market-led opportunities to create companies of scale in Animal Health, Agri-tech 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.”

Bruce Whitelaw, Interim Director, The Roslin Institute comments,

“FAST offers a transformative opportunity to accelerate the entrepreneurial culture at Easter Bush. I’m particularly grateful to Edinburgh Innovations for their continued support after having introduced DSV to the Roslin Institute and identified the joint opportunity for a novel approach to company creation.”

Moving forward, quarterly reporting to an internal joint steering committee and annual updates published and promoted externally will be used to assess the ongoing progress and collective impact of the project. Jobs and scale-up companies created as well as scalability and company growth will be used as key performance indicators.

As this project is currently in its pilot phase, it is too soon to measure exact success, however, it is expected that three new companies will be created in Q1 of 2021. The venture has also created job opportunities for people residing in Scotland, with the appointment of two Founding Analysts (FA) and an ongoing recruitment drive for an Aquaculture FA. Thereafter, further founder recruitment will follow by refining the business propositions and skills gaps identified in the process.

John Mackenzie, CEO, Roslin Innovation Centre concludes,

“Creating new companies with rapid growth potential as well as creating jobs and wealth faster in a sustainable way, whilst attracting real world-class scientific and entrepreneurial talent to stay and remain in Scotland is a win-win for all. We are all about Scotland First for a Global Good.”

To find out more about the project visit

Case Studies

Supported by Converge, Dr Kate Cameron uses entrepreneurial ecosystem to springboard her start-up and secure early-stage funding

RSE Enterprise, Converge and Scottish EDGE

Collective speak with Dr Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director of Converge to find out more about why the collective impact was so important for the success of former scientist at the University of Edinburgh Dr Kate Cameron.

Converge is Scotland’s largest company creation programme for staff, students and recent graduates of all Scottish Universities and Research Institutes. Their mission is to help the new generation of innovators, creators and ground-breakers turn their ideas into commercially viable businesses to help Scotland thrive.


Kate’s journey started when she received the Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellowship for her highly innovative and scaleable biotechnology business, Cytochroma.

Cytochroma uses state of the art science, expertise and robotics to deliver powerful models for drug discovery and development. Their technology predicts how drugs will react in a diverse population, in both health and disease, reducing the need for animal testing, making drug development more efficient.

She then went on to enter the Converge and EDGE Challenges in 2018. As a result of being shortlisted as a finalist in the 2018 Converge Challenge, she received business development, PR and marketing support from the organisation for a year.

In that same year, she won the HIGGS Edge Award, a specific award for businesses with scientific foundations and the grant funding secured allowed her to take a huge leap, kickstarting her lab work and taking some office space. The following year she was also a finalist in the Accelerator Awards, which us a programme run by investing women.

Dr Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director of Converge comments,

Kate is a great example of someone who has used the eco-system in its best form. She has used the right kind of support at the right time so that she can then move on and you can see that she is now growing. It’s brilliant to be able to support people that we believe have the potential to succeed and we all do believe in her.

We are like a family with these other collective organisations and we get on and believe in the same things. We are not competing because we all want our innovators to succeed. We all understand that this is a collective impact. No one organisation could tick all of the boxes but the combination of them, create the perfect recipe for success.

On the flip side, Kate has also been a great ambassador for us and the face of our campaign pre-COVID because she realises that we have all played our part in supporting her journey.”


Converge has measures in place to track the success of each project they work on. They measure the impact of the alumni by looking at when they incorporated the business, what funds they have managed to raise, the jobs that each project has created and the survival rate of each of the businesses they work to support. Every 3-4 years they also commission an independent economic evaluation.

Dr Kate Cameron, founder of Cytochroma comments,

“Working with a collective has been invaluable and their support at each stage of my growth has really helped me to propel my business. The Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellowship has connected me to so many companies, Converge have supported me with business development and PR and the HIGGS Edge Award winners fund has allowed me to kickstart lab work and take office space.

So far I have managed to raise £330,000 just from grants and competitions and I have also now grown my team to three full-time employees, including myself. We are still in the pre-trading and product development phase of the business but our next step is to go for investment to get a bigger chunk of money that will support us to launch the products and develop services the year after. We will also be looking to put a sales team in place.”

Further to the financial and business success demonstrated by Kate, there are also a great many positive social implications that have resulted from the project. Kate’s business yields a societal health return on investment. Her products will go on to help other businesses as well as doctors and patients lives. Not least, she is also a woman and her success story serves as a hugely inspirational story for women residing across Scotland and beyond.

To find out more about the Converge Challenges, visit

About Converge

Converge is Scotland’s largest company creation programme for staff, students and recent graduates of all Scottish Universities and Research Institutes. Our mission is to help the new generation of innovators, creators and ground-breakers turn their ideas into commercially viable businesses to help Scotland thrive.

Converge is the only programme of its kind bringing together academic entrepreneurs from every university in Scotland under one roof. We offer intensive training – tailored specifically to academic entrepreneurs –one-to-one guidance enabling staff, students and graduates to explore the commercial potential of their research, creativity and ideas.

They are funded by the Scottish Funding Council, all 18 Scottish Universities, Creative Scotland and a network of professional partners. They also enjoy close working ties with the wider Scottish entrepreneurial ecosystem including investors, accelerators and support agencies.​