Professor David Hume, Director of the Roslin Institute, opened the conference by telling us about the research activities within the institute. The Roslin Institute’s focus is to tackle pressing issues in animal health and welfare, and their implications for human health. Highlights of Professor Hume’s talk included an update on the new Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health, which is being undertaken in partnership with SRUC and ILRI.
Professor Bruce Whitelaw discussed team “Dolly”, celebrating the creation of the world’s most famous sheep 20 years ago. Professor Whitelaw also told us about research within the Roslin Institute using “gene editors” such as CRISPR cas9. Gene editors have been used to create “pig 26” which has a single base pair deletion, such is the precision of the technique. Pig 26 is part of a research programme to create GM pigs that are resistant to infections such as African swine fever virus.
John MacKenzie, CEO of the Roslin BioCentre and CEO of the new Roslin Innovation Centre opening next year, told us about how the new centre has been designed specifically to encourage innovation amongst its tenant companies. The centre will eventually host an informal accelerator, taking equity in return for lab/office space.
JB Equity, a private equity and advisory boutique focused on agribusiness, agri-tech and food production, has launched an animal health investment platform in conjunction with the Roslin Institute. This partnership is behind Roslin Technologies Ltd, and we heard more about the JVC from CEO Glen Illing. Roslin Technologies is led by a specialist team of investment managers with expert knowledge in animal science, big data, and project management. The team aims to raise further investment that will support the creation of spin-out companies from the Roslin Institute.
We reconvened on day 2 at the Moredun Institute, and Morton Fraser’s Austin Flynn chaired an excellent work shop session entitled “Knowledge Infrastructures: connecting research to business”. The session was led by Bob Cushing (Bridge Fibre) and Fred Walker (Jiscom), who highlighted the challenges facing science parks in terms of the expense and management of an IT infrastructure. By offering access to an advanced digital infrastructure, services and assets, Jiscom can enable science parks to provide added value to their tenant companies. When scaling up a business ,access to an ultrafast secure network is key.
Roslin and Moredun were very much showcased over the two days, and the research and innovation activities around the Easter Bush Campus and Pentlands Science Park are world class. Congratulations to the organisers of UKSPA in Edinburgh for providing an informative, friendly conference where delegates were able to connect and discuss the issues facing science parks today.