Deep Science Ventures (DSV) and the University of Edinburgh launch the Food & Agriculture Science Transformer (FAST), an ambitious programme creating the first venture studio in Scotland

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?

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.

Collective

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.

Impact

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
https://www.roslininnovationcentre.com/food-agriculture-science-transformer-fast

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