Scotland’s universities have a long history of innovation and have been key in the fundamental scientific and engineering advances in modern mathematics, chemistry, engineering and medicine.  Famous Scottish inventions throughout history include; the raincoat, television, telephone, penicillin, insulin, the steam engine, tarmac and Dolly the sheep!

In modern times, these universities have capitalised on their research strengths and generated many new technologies and discoveries that have been commercialised successfully through technology licensing or the formation of new ’spin-out’ companies - several of which have gone on to major global success.

Here are some examples of successful technologies and discoveries that have been licensed to existing companies or new university spin-out companies and developed into successful products in their own right.


Dermofit, an application to train medical professionals in early diagnosis of skin cancer, has been licensed to Simedics Limited, a Yorkshire based company specialising in digital products and publishing for the healthcare and public sector services. This pioneering digital application, developed by the University of Edinburgh, includes an extensive image library with algorithms which can accurately identify malignant and benign skin lesion and skin growths at an earlier stage. Simedics Limited plans to develop and launch a commercial product targeted at the medical students, dermatology specialist nurses, and general practitioners training market.


High tech continuous reactor company, NiTech Solutions Ltd signed a licence agreement with Heriot-Watt University allowing it to commercialise revolutionary crystallisation technology that could vastly increase manufacturing processes and production in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. 


Vertebrate Antibodies Ltd was spun out from the University of Aberdeen to provide new antibody tools to the research community. The company received investment from a private investor. A range of antibodies have been licensed.


Nautricity Ltd was spun out from the University of Strathclyde's Energy Systems Research Unit to generate electricity from tidal flows through the development of the CoRMaT device. This unique patented contra-rotating tidal turbine technology has been awarded the prestigious Technology Award by the Energy Institute.

      Algorithms for automated detection of diabetic retinopathy, developed by scientists at the University of Aberdeen, were licensed to Scottish Health Innovations Ltd and subsequently sub-licensed to Medalytix Ltd, who further developed the software and then sub-licensed it to Digital Healthcare who market the software iGradingM. NHS Scotland are now using iGradingM as a key component of the National Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Programme.

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