The Business & Enterprise Breakfast Briefing being held at Heriot Watt University Scottish Borders Campus is a unique opportunity for industry leaders and businesses to engage directly with one of the UK’s leading universities in fostering innovation and enterprise.

Why Attend?

Key Features:

Who Should Attend?

This briefing is ideal for Chief Officers, Directors, Business Owners, R&D leaders, and anyone interested in the successful intersection of academia and industry. Whether you’re from a start-up or an established company, you’ll find valuable insights and opportunities for collaboration.

Innovation, new ideas and emerging technologies in the world of food are constantly being explored and developed across a wide array of fields, disciplines, topics and specialities. However, engagement between the wide range of different subjects in which food features is often limited.

This conference will open up inter-disciplinary boundaries and blind-spots, focussing in particular on what innovation looks like and means across different areas of study involving food.

In inviting all those interested in and engaged with food to discuss what’s considered new, progressive and important from different perspectives, the conference seeks to inspire fresh thinking and improve our understanding of how food works not just in different sectors, but in the world as a whole.

“Being Innovative about Food Innovation” is a two-day event that aims to bring together a diverse community of individuals engaged with researching, studying and working with food. It’s not a standard academic conference, in that it seeks to both champion and challenge different ideas about innovation, inviting contributions in a variety of formats as a means to broadening and improving our thinking on one topic. Whether you are an academic, a researcher, nutritionist, dietitian, chef, cook, food provider, food organiser, food scientist, food educator, agronomist, grower, food producer, brewer, fermenter, marketer, communicator, government official or student, this conference offers a unique opportunity to connect, share knowledge and gain insights not just into the latest trends and breakthroughs in the food sector, but to consider different concepts of what innovation and progress mean.

Improving gut health for consumers through innovative products like fibrewater.


After transforming their own health with prebiotics, three friends, who personally experienced gut related health challenges founded The Prebiotic Company Ltd and launched fibrewater, the UK’s first prebiotic, fibre-infused water in May 2022. Their vision is to lead in the creation of gut health drinks and food products, leveraging the symbiotic relationship between prebiotics and probiotics to enhance gut and overall health.

Prebiotics, specific dietary fibres, play a vital role in nurturing probiotic bacteria, which collectively support gut health and overall well-being. With over 4,000 research papers demonstrating the benefits of prebiotics in supporting the immune system and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and colorectal cancer, as well as improving mood and sleep, fibrewater delivers 100% of the daily intake of prebiotics and 20% of an adult’s daily fibre intake.

The Challenge

The company’s collaboration with Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) aimed to validate the efficacy of their core product, fibrewater, and lay the groundwork for future product development. They sought to understand how fibrewater impacted different probiotics. As prebiotics feed beneficial microbes (probiotics), the company needed to know exactly how, and what probiotics responded to the core fibrewater recipe which would be crucial for expanding their product range.

The Solution

In meeting with several different academic partners identified by Interface, Dr. John Butcher and Dr. Ryan Kean from GCU proved to be ideal academic partners, possessing the necessary expertise and enthusiasm for the project. This collaboration not only provided funding for research but also enriched the academic portfolios of the researchers involved, providing an interdisciplinary project in the fields of microbiology and prebiotic food science. Additionally, it provided valuable experience for an undergraduate BSc Food Science student to generate preliminary work as part of their final year research project. Working with a newly launched, novel, prebiotic drink was an excellent opportunity for the student, providing a meaningful project as part of a larger piece of work.

The funding received for this collaboration allowed the purchase of key strains of probiotic bacteria, which now form part of the GCU bacterial culture collection to be used in future teaching and research projects at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The project also led to the development of lab methods that will translate to future projects. In addition, these strains have been utilised in public outreach activities including school visits and open evenings for the promotion of Food Science.

The collaboration yielded significant findings, which were released in November 2022 on GCUs social media platforms, promoting Food Science, academia and industry collaboration. The findings also bolstered investor interest for The Prebiotic Company and paved the way for further collaborations with academic and healthcare institutions.
GCU’s research findings are currently guiding the development of new product variants to add to the fibrewater product range.

The Benefits

Company Benefits

Academic Benefits

Next Steps

The personal health journeys of the company’s founders Mohsin Laginaf, Alyssa Reid and Jay Curthan continue to drive their commitment to improving gut health for consumers through innovative products like fibrewater.

Azets are hosting an event with Scotland’s Minister for Small Business, Trade and Innovation, Richard Lochhead, serial entrepreneur Brian Williamson, and a stellar panel of experts for an engaging and informative dive into the world of supporting innovative businesses to help them scale and succeed.

The Government’s vision is for Scotland to be one of the most innovative small nations in the world by 2033.

Event details

Date: Tuesday 23 April 2024

Format and timings:

Arrival: 4:00pm – 4:15pm

Welcome and steer from Richard Lochhead: 4:15pm – 4:25pm

Panel session followed by Q&A: 4:25pm – 5:00pm

Networking and refreshments: 5:00pm – 6:00pm

Location: Azets, 3 Semple Street, Edinburgh, EH3 8BL

Panel Members
• Gemma Monaghan, R&D Tax Partner at Azets
• Craig Hutchison, Patent Attorney at Lawrie
• Andrew Castell, Partner at Par Equity
• Brian Williamson, award-winning entrepreneur

You can register and submit your question for the panel members below.

Edinburgh College of Art invites you to a networking event on the 1st of March, 5-7PM, designed to bring together academics from throughout Edinburgh College of Art and selected external partners from a range of sectors, held at Inspace Gallery.

This is partly a chance to catch-up with partners we’ve worked with in the past but also to forge new connections with people who work in similar areas to explore opportunities to work together in the future, with 30 researchers from across ECA who are enthusiastic about making connections and impact with external partners.

The programme will be designed based on responses we get from invitees but, broadly speaking, there will be opportunities to present a problem, an idea, a call for collaboration in a short ‘pitch’ or to exhibit something, if desired. Both are optional, and there will be ample time for informal chats (with drink and nibbles!) Our researchers will be pitching their ideas and interests to you too.

Please e mail Claire at if you would like to attend by 5pm Friday 23 February.

Attend this AI Accelerator event and hear from the 12 innovative companies who have taken part in this year’s AI Accelerator Programme. Selected under the themes of Health, Climate and AI for Good, the scaleup cohort are applying AI for positive change across a broad range of sectors. Meet them in person at this Showcase event in the prestigious Playfair Library Hall in central Edinburgh on the 20th March 2024.

This year the programme celebrates it’s 5th birthday. Collectively, previous cohort companies have raised over £66m in investment since taking part.


20th March 2024 from 1:30 pm to 7:00 pm. Registration from 1 pm. (The event will also be streamed online for those unable to make it in person. The online event will end at 5pm).

What’s on the agenda?

From 13:30 – 17:00 each of the 12 innovative companies will pitch their solution and their business. They are looking for investment, collaborations and customers. You can vote for the best pitch, with a cash prize on offer for the winning pitches. This event is also a celebration of the programme’s fifth birthday, so we will be reflecting on the last 5 years with Nick Jones, founder & CEO of Zumo. They took part in the very first programme. We will also be looking forward to what might happen in the field of AI in the next 5 years with Richard M Marshall, tech entreprenuer, industry analyst and Parkour enthusiast.

From 17:00 – 19:00 there will be networking opportunities where you can chat and build relationships with founders, investors and academics over a coffee or drinks and a canapé. You can look forward to a day of discovering potential opportunities for investment, collaboration, and inspiration.

About the AI Accelerator

The 6-month Accelerator Programme scales AI-driven companies from both Scotland and the rest of the world. The AI Accelerator is delivered by the Bayes Centre, the University of Edinburgh’s Innovation Hub for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, and supported by Edinburgh Innovations, the commercialisation service of the University. It is delivered on behalf of the University’s Data-Driven Innovation Hubs, in contribution to the Data-Driven Entrepreneurship programme.

Join the fourth Venture Builder Incubator Showcase at Central Hall in Edinburgh’s Tollcross to celebrate the latest in innovation and entrepreneurship . Watch pitches from the inspirational start-ups.
Vote for your favourite – the winners receive cash prizes – and meet the teams afterwards over canapes and refreshments.

This year’s programme has supported 26 Startups to explore and validate the commercial potential of data-driven research. The cohort includes 7 start-ups sponsored by Cancer Research Horizons who are using data to deliver better diagnosis and treatment options for cancer patients. For the first time we have provided targeted support for robotics and autonomous systems projects, thanks to match funding from the Barclays Eagle Labs Ecosystem Partnership Programme, funded by the UK Government.

About the Venture Builder Incubator
The Venture Builder Incubator is delivered by the Bayes Centre, the University of Edinburgh’s Innovation Hub for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, and supported by Edinburgh Innovations, the commercialisation service of the University. It is delivered on behalf of the University’s Data-Driven Innovation Hubs, in contribution to the Data-Driven Entrepreneurship programme.

Through a tailored programme of interactive online workshops and events researchers become founders who are encouraged to connect their data-driven ideas to the world and to explore investment opportunities. This is the fourth programme and it builds on the achievements of the previous cohorts which have seen considerable success.

Join Geovation Scotland’s 2024 Showcase, to celebrate and learn more about the companies graduating from their fifth cohort of innovative Location, Land and Property technology start ups.

Over the last nine months, the start ups have been working closely with Geovation to refine their propositions, develop solutions and prepare for future growth. At this annual showcase you will get the opportunity to hear from each of the companies as they present their businesses and talk about their plans for the future, with questions from our panel of industry experts.

After the presentations there will be an expo where you will get the chance to network and speak directly with the teams, who will also joined by a small selection of alumni and entrepeneurs-in-residence.

The companies from the 5th cohort of Geovation Scotland accelerator programme include:

A“Cane to Cask” rum producer with a commitment to sustainability and a focus on high-quality raw materials, Matugga aims to leave an indelible mark on the international drinks marketplace.


Husband and wife team, Paul and Jacine Rutasikwa, co-founded the Matugga Distillery in 2018, and were one of the first in the UK to produce rum from scratch. Based in Livingston the Matugga Distillery produces a multi-award-winning range of handcrafted spirits with distinctive character and flavours which are distributed across the UK and Europe.

The company is also developing a sugar cane estate on family land in Uganda that will employ and train local agricultural workers. By harvesting cane from its family land and converting it into high quality distilling molasses the company will become a “Cane to Cask” rum producer. With a commitment to sustainability and a focus on high-quality raw materials, Matugga aims to leave an indelible mark on the international drinks marketplace.

Matugga’s initiatives detailed below, supported by Interface’s introductions to academia and various funds, showcase the distillery’s commitment to sustainability, innovation, and social responsibility.

The Challenge – Pot Ale Utilisation

A pressing issue for Matugga is the management of liquid by-products, a challenge since their inception in 2018. Facing escalating disposal costs and a potential surge in liquid volume due to expansion plans, Matugga partnered with Heriot-Watt University. Through the Food & Drink Net Zero Challenge Fund, they explored sustainable alternatives for pot ale, including potential uses in animal feed and biogas, offering additional income streams.

The Solution

Heriot-Watt University’s research looked into characterizing Matugga’s pot ale, proposing solutions that added value while considering the environmental impact. The exploration encompassed biogas, feed/food applications, and new product feedstock potential. The goal was to create a sustainable value chain for pot ale, akin to Scotch whisky distillers.

The research led by Heriot-Watt University provides Matugga with a sustainable solution for pot ale, aligning with their commitment to environmental responsibility. This breakthrough has far-reaching implications for both Matugga and the wider Scottish rum distillery community.

The Benefits

A potential path has been identified which can enable Matugga to return their pot ale into the value chain similar to how Scotch whisky distillers can, ensuring sustainability.

This not only benefits Matugga’s expansion plans but also holds promise for other current and future Scottish rum distilleries.

Overall Impact

Interface have been instrumental in assisting Matugga Distillers with several other research and development opportunities which include:

Matugga’s initiatives, supported by Interface’s introductions to academia and various funds, showcase the distillery’s commitment to sustainability, innovation, and social responsibility.

Matugga Distillery’s journey is a testament to the power of collaboration, innovation, and sustainability in the spirits industry. Through strategic partnerships and leveraging Interface’s support, Matugga has not only overcome challenges but has emerged as a leader, setting new standards for environmentally conscious and socially responsible distilleries in the UK.

The Net Zero Food & Drink Challenge Fund

The Net Zero Food & Drink Challenge Fund was launched in FY2022/23 by Interface and the Scotland Food and Drink Partnership to support businesses to accelerate their journey towards Net Zero utilising the knowledge base across Scottish Academia. It funded 17 projects of up to £10k each.

Projects were carried out between businesses and academia to improve their environmental credentials through the sustainable measures and learnings taken as a result of their projects. Type of impacts have varied from CO2 Capture, CO2 reduction, Energy Reduction and renewable energy benefits, alternative uses and adding value to waste, and sustainable farming techniques.