Heriot-Watt start ups win business awards

Dan Arnold and Nicholas Psaila

Two start-up companies out of Heriot-Watt University have been named outright winner and runner up for a special award in a national business competition to attract innovative new businesses to West Lothian.

Optoscribe, a revolutionary hi-tech laser-etching firm, and Epistemy, a developer of intuitive and novel software for assessing risk in oil and gas production fields, were named as winner and special award winner at the recent Alba Innovation Challenge awards. The two Heriot-Watt companies came top out of 25 aspiring businesses.

Nicholas Psaila, head of Optoscribe, who has recently been awarded an RSE Enterprise Fellowship, said he was "thrilled to win", as he collected his award and a first prize of a business package worth £50,000.

Optoscribe provides cost effective three dimensional micro-manufacturing of integrated optical systems, increasing existing technologies and enabling new designs freedoms. Its products target high-growth global markets in high-speed data transfer, optical sensing and bio-photonic 'lab on a chip' markets, estimated to be worth £160billion by 2015.

In a surprise move the Alba judges announced a special award category to Dan Arnold who has just completed his RSE Enterprise Fellowship and his company Epistemy, which they believed also, exemplified one of Scotland's best innovators. Dan Arnold commented "The oil industry has always been a risk-based industry. With the prospect of peak oil, and with the North Sea already in decline, oil companies need to accurately quantify the risks in reservoir management decisions."

Both Optoscibe and Epistemy have received support from Scottish Enterprise through the RSE Enterprise Fellowship Scheme.

Optoscribe and Epistemy are examples of Heriot-Watt University developing its quality research into commercial opportunities and the recent appointment of an enterprise creation manager, under its new initiative, Converge, which offers a full package of business support, marrying academic experience with commercial managers who can help with business development advice and marketing support, consolidates Heriot-Watt's success in technology transfer through incorporation of spin-out companies.