Since opening in 2018, the Bayes Centre has established a strong record of collaboration and engagement, bringing together multidisciplinary research within the institution and establishing partnerships with industry.
Filippo Menolascina was appointed the Director of Research at the Bayes Centre last year and brings with him experience of creating three startup companies and regularly advising venture capital and business angel groups on prospective investments. Filippo is also the Chair of Engineering Biology at the University where he is working on research that seeks to develop intelligent control algorithms to develop cellular therapies.
Filippo says he wants to help early-career academics take their research to the next level and “make tangible global impact”.
“The Innovation Fellows programme is the first of its kind, in our University and potentially the whole country, to offer this kind of support to data science academics,” he adds.
“It will give them an environment where they can develop the skills that will allow them to explore routes to maximise the impact of their research.”
Routes to commercialisation
The Bayes Centre previously set up successful programmes such as the Venture Builder Incubator and the AI Accelerator which has helped previous cohort companies attract more than £10 million in grants and investment. However, Filippo says there was a gap for a programme targeted towards academics.
“The Bayes Innovation Fellows fill such gap,” he says. “This programme provides a year long, personalised programme of training and experiential learning for some of the University’s rising star researchers, helping them to discover how to commercialise their research and/or spin out a company.
“From designing customer-centred products and services, to distilling plans into credible financial projections and pitching to investors, I have designed this programme trying to cover those topics that I found myself thinking, in my own journey as an entrepreneur, ‘If only someone told me about this’… I am hoping that this will help our colleagues navigating the world of new ventures with the confidence they deserve.”
The Innovation Fellows programme will last one academic year and successful applicants will be provided with £5,000-£10,000 of seed funding to support their research, as well as a formal 20 per cent buy out of their time from their current position, meaning it is not something they need to try to work on while also meeting all their existing commitments.
The programme will be delivered both digitally and in-person by the Bayes Centre and Edinburgh Innovations, the university’s commercialisation service, on behalf of its Data-Driven Innovation Hubs.
Applicants need to fill out a light-touch form, where they will be asked to elaborate on a ‘big idea’, share the gaps in their knowledge they would like to fill, and explain how they think the programme will benefit them.
The first cohort, starting in September, includes:
- Walid Magdi – Reader, School of Informatics: the development of improved AI conversation models, which will allow greater interaction in low-resourced languages, specifically Arabic.
- Ruby Marshall – Lecturer of Soft Robotics at the Institute for Design Informatics, Edinburgh College of Arts: variably-actuated wearable sensory devices for nervous system regulation with improved aesthetic design, which will help to address the issue of sensory wellbeing management by empowering the user to soothe their nervous system through the sensory input that they require.
- Ahmar Shah – Associate Professor, The Usher Institute: To empower healthcare researchers to leverage data science and transform healthcare – this involves the creation of an online platform for healthcare researchers to upskill in data science, machine learning and AI, as applied to healthcare.
- Yunjie Yang – Senior Lecturer, School of Engineering: The development and deployment of flexible perception systems empowered by machine learning for soft robots – a smart electronic skin.
- Thanasis Tanas (pictured below) – Professor in Digital Health and Data Science, The Usher Institute: The use of use of wearable technology and smartphones for healthcare applications and the development of a framework to analyse the data collected.
Filippo says the programme will allow academics to gain access to crucial knowledge and advice that has previously been difficult to access.
“We are aware that academics are being asked to fill ever more roles within the University and, at the same time, have far greater understanding of the possibility of their research and ideas than has ever been the case in the past.
“The Bayes Innovation Fellows programme is a unique and exciting opportunity to gain knowledge and experience which would otherwise have been much more difficult to get access to.
“We want to empower our colleagues with the tools they need to make a difference and so the academics will be surrounded by a community of start-ups and entrepreneurs and will be invited to the many community events and activities, further exposing them to new ideas and potential collaborators.
“The programme has been designed with just these kinds of academics in mind and so they will learn from people who have been in the same position that they themselves are currently in, including myself.”
Upon completion of the Bayes Innovation Fellows programme, and where beneficial, colleagues may be integrated into the established Venture Builder Incubator and AI Accelerator programmes.
Filippo will be opening the call for the next cohort of academics in late August. Email email@example.com for further details.
To find out more about the Bayes Innovation Fellows, visit the Bayes Centre website.