6 investors and founders forecast hockey-stick growth for Edinburgh’s startup scene

Scotland is slowly but surely drawing attention in the UK’s startup space. In 2020, Scottish startups collectively raised £345 million, according to Tech Nation, and with nearly 2,500 startups, it has the highest number of budding tech companies outside London. Venture capital fundraises are also consistently on the rise every year.

Scotland’s capital Edinburgh boasts a beautiful, hilly landscape, a robust education system and good access to grant funding, public and private investment. It’s also one of the top financial centers in the U.K., making it a great place to begin a business.

So to find out what the startup scene in Edinburgh looks like, we spoke to six founders, executives and investors. The city’s tech ecosystem appears to have a robust space for machine learning, artificial intelligence, biomedicine, fintech, travel tech, oil, renewables, e-commerce, gaming, health tech, deep tech, space tech and insurtech.


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However, the city’s tech scene is apparently lackluster when it comes to legal tech, blockchain and consumer-facing technology.

Breakout companies that were founded in Edinburgh include Skyscanner and FanDuel. Notable among the current crop are Desana, Continuum Industries, Parsley Box, Current Health, Boundary, Zumo, Appointedd, Criton, Mallzee, TravelNest, TVSquared, Care Sourcer, Stampede, For-Sight, Vistalworks, Reath, InfraCost, Speech Graphics and Cyan Forensics.

The Edinburgh business-angel community appears to be quite strong, but it seems local founders find it difficult to get London-based investors to take an interest. Scottish investors are said to be “pretty conservative and risk-adverse” with some notable exceptions.

We surveyed:


Wendy Lamin, managing director, Holoxica

Which sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What does it lack?
It’s strong in space, biomedicine, fintech/insurtech, AI.

What are the tech investors like in Edinburgh? What’s their focus?
The Scottish business-angel community is said to be the largest in Europe. It’s difficult to get London-based investors take an interest in Scotland — investors can tend to look at where companies are based. It is hard for “underrepresented founders” to get investments in Scotland and beyond.

With the shift to remote working, do you think people will stay in Edinburgh or will they move out? Will others move in?
Stay. Not always easy to get people to come and live in Scotland. Edinburgh, there are lots of prejudices, despite it being one of the best cities to live in in the whole of the U.K.

Who are the key startup people in the city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers)?
Good to see more focus on impact investing. Par Equity is one of Edinburgh’s biggest investors, whereas Archangels is one of the biggest angel investors. Poonam Malik is great for diversity and female entrepreneurs, and she is on the board of Scottish Enterprise, and is a social entrepreneur and investor. Garry Bernstein is also an investor — he leads the Scottish chapter of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates, and as such is the founder of Tech Scot Advocates.

Where do you think the city’s tech scene will be in five years?
Thriving. The government is doing its best for the tech sector. Education in tech is currently an issue, though. Hope Brexit won’t be too much of an issue.

Andrew Noble, partner, Par Equity

Which sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What does it lack?
Strong in fintech, health tech, data science, deep tech. Excited by quantum computing, advanced materials, AI in Edinburgh. Weak in blockchain and consumer.

Which are the most interesting startups in Edinburgh?
Current Health, InfraCost, Speech Graphics and Cyan Forensics.

What are the tech investors like in Edinburgh? What’s their focus?
Good at seed stage up to £1 million, okay for pre-series A (£1 million to £3 million) and non-existent for Series A (£3 million-£10 million). Quality of investors is improving. Par Equity is leading the way.

With the shift to remote working, do you think people will stay in Edinburgh, or will they move out? Will others move in?
Experiencing influx of new talent due to COVID-19. Edinburgh is a highly desirable city to live in. Recent new residents include Aaron Ross (Predictable Revenue) and Jules Pursuad (early employee at Airbnb and now VP at Omio).

Who are the key startup people in the city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers)?
Par Equity (investor), Paul Atkinson, Alistair Forbes, Mark Logan, Lesley Eccles, Chris McCann, CodeBase.

Where do you think the city’s tech scene will be in five years?
One to two new unicorns. Promising number of high-growth tech companies. A much more sophisticated investor scene in the Series A space.

Danae Shell, co-founder and CEO, Valla

Which sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What does it lack?
Edinburgh is strong in fintech because of our proximity to so many financial services companies and banks. Also, there are some exciting games tech companies because of our history of games companies. We’re pretty weak in law tech, Valla’s area.

Which are the most interesting startups in Edinburgh?
Vistalworks for consumer tech; Sustainably for fintech; Reath for sustainable tech.

What are the tech investors like in Edinburgh? What’s their focus?
As a rule, Scottish investors are pretty conservative and risk-averse. The only real exception is Techstart Ventures, in my experience.

With the shift to remote working, do you think people will stay in Edinburgh, or will they move out? Will others move in?
I think more people will come to Edinburgh from London because the quality of life and cost of living are both so much better here.

Who are the key startup people in the city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers)?
Calum Forsyth and Mark Hogarth at Techstart Ventures; Janine Matheson at CodeBase; Jackie Waring from the Investing Women angel syndicate; Jim Newbury is a very well-respected developer and coach, and my co-founder Kate Ho is also well known. Also Danny Helson who runs the EIE event with the Bayes Centre.

Where do you think the city’s tech scene will be in five years?
We’ve had a few exits in the past few years (Skyscanner, FreeAgent), which means that talent is spreading out across the ecosystem here and we’re getting some fantastic new startups kicking off. In five years, that first crop should be coming into the Series A stage so we could see a lot of super exciting businesses!

Allan Nelson, co-founder and CEO, For-Sight

Which sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What does it lack?
Strong in fintech, travel tech, health, oil, renewables, e-commerce, gaming (both video game and gambling tech). Excited by all bar oil (great driver of revenue, but not the future).

Which are the most interesting startups in Edinburgh?
Boundary, Parsley Box, Appointedd, Criton, Mallzee, TravelNest, TVSquared, Care Sourcer, Stampede, For-Sight.

What are the tech investors like in Edinburgh? What’s their focus?
Big fintech scene here. Travel tech is growing too, with Skyscanner’s influence strong.

With the shift to remote working, do you think people will stay in Edinburgh, or will they move out? Will others move in?
Most will stay, as it’s a very attractive city to live and work in. It’s a globally recognized and unique city. Very international flavor as evidenced by the makeup of our team.

Who are the key startup people in the city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers)?
Ex-Skyscanner people including Gareth Williams, Mark Logan, etc. Ian Ritchie, Alistair Forbes, the FanDuel’s founders and the CodeBase founders.

Where do you think the city’s tech scene will be in five years?
A lot bigger, as tech is a key growth target of the Scottish government and is underpinned/influenced/inspired by Skyscanner and FanDuel.

Lysimachos Zografos, founder, Parkure

Which sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What does it lack?
Strong in machine learning/AI/digital. Weak in deep tech discovery, especially in biotech/therapeutics. Excited by the rise in adoption of AI in drug discovery — all these ideas that were sci-fi 20 years ago are now adopted in £B deals.

Which are the most interesting startups in Edinburgh?
Pheno Therapeutics.

What are the tech investors like in Edinburgh? What’s their focus?
Conservative angels and a few tech seed VCs.

With the shift to remote working, do you think people will stay in Edinburgh, or will they move out? Will others move in?
Move in.

Who are the key startup people in the city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers)?
Investors: Archangels, Techstart Ventures and Epidarex.

Where do you think the city’s tech scene will be in five years?
Growing.

Bertie Wilson, co-founder, “Stealth mode”

Which sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What does it lack?
I don’t think there are any sectors that stand out — it’s fairly evenly split. A good strength of the city is the talent that comes from the universities. There are some really good engineers that come from Edinburgh, Heriot Watt and Edinburgh Napier. The main weakness is that the ecosystem doesn’t favor the most ambitious founders. Most investors in the region are angels and aren’t interested in finding outliers that could grow 1000x and are more interested in backing companies that are less risky but might 5x their money. If you want to find investors that will back risky (but very ambitious) plans, it’s easier to find that elsewhere.

Which are the most interesting startups in Edinburgh?
Desana, Continuum Industries, Parsley Box, Current Health, Boundary, Zumo.

What are the tech investors like in Edinburgh? What’s their focus?
I would say it’s getting better, but there are still a lot of issues with the ecosystem. It is being helped in Scotland by the likes of Techstart investing at the earliest stages with high conviction and term sheets that are more similar to London VCs. Outside of this, though, it’s easy for founders to end up with a messy cap table due to the number of angels and lack of VCs looking for VC-type returns — the messiness of these cap tables can then make it hard to raise venture funding down the line. This is fine for a lot of companies that aren’t aiming for a venture-scale return (which admittedly is a lot), but it can hurt those that are.

With the shift to remote working, do you think people will stay in Edinburgh, or will they move out? Will others move in?
I imagine and hope others will move in. It is a great place to live with a very high quality of life, and this should be a natural attraction for people who want a good standard of living but want to remain in a city.

Who are the key startup people in the city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers)?
SEP (investor), Techstart Ventures (investor), Gareth Williams (founder/investor), MBM Commercial (lawyers), Pentech, Bill Dobbie (investor), Jamie Coleman.

Where do you think the city’s tech scene will be in five years?
Optimistically, I hope that there will be a good number of companies that are at the Series B/Series C stage, which will invite a lot more interest from investors outside of Edinburgh (London, Berlin, Paris, New York, San Francisco, etc.) to start investing more actively in the city at the earliest stages as well as these stages.

#artificial-intelligence, #ec-investor-surveys, #ec-united-kingdom, #ecommerce, #edinburgh, #europe, #funding, #fundings-exits, #investor-survey, #london, #scotland, #startups, #tc, #united-kingdom, #venture-capital

TechCrunch Survey of Scottish Tech Hubs: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen

TechCrunch is embarking on a major new project to survey European founders and investors in cities outside the larger European capitals.

Over the next few weeks, we will ask entrepreneurs in these cities to talk about their ecosystems, in their own words.

This is your chance to put Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen on the Techcrunch Map!.

If you are a tech startup founder or investor in one of these cities please fill out the survey form here.

We are particularly interested in hearing from women founders and investors.

This is the follow-up to the huge survey of investors (see also below) we’ve done over the last six or more months, largely in Europe’s biggest capital cities.

These formed part of a broader series of surveys we’re doing regularly for ExtraCrunch, our subscription service that unpacks key issues for startups and investors.

In the first wave of surveys, the cities we wrote about were largely capitals. You can see them listed here.

This time, we will be surveying founders and investors in Europe’s other cities to capture how European hubs are growing, from the perspective of the people on the ground.

We’d like to know how your city’s startup scene is evolving, how the tech sector is being impacted by COVID-19, and generally how your city will evolve.

We leave submissions mostly unedited and are generally looking for at least one or two paragraphs in answers to the questions.

So if you are a tech startup founder or investor in one of these cities please fill out our survey form here.

Thank you for participating. If you have questions you can email mike@techcrunch.com and/or DM on Twitter to @mikebutcher.

#business, #companies, #economy, #edinburgh, #europe, #startup-company, #tc, #techcrunch, #verizon-media

Hiro Capital puts $2.3M into team sports tracking platform PlayerData — as does Sir Terry Leahy

Hiro Capital has gradually been making a name for itself as an investor in the area know as ‘Digital Sports’ or DSports for shorts. It’s now led a $2.3m funding round in PlayerData. While the round might sound small, the area it’s going into is large and growing. Also investing in the round is Sir Terry Leahy, previously the CEO of Tesco, the largest British retailer.

Edinburgh, UK-based PlayerData uses wearable technology and software tracking to give grass-roots and professional sports teams feedback on their training. It can, for instance, allow coaches to replay key moments from a game, even modeling different outcomes based on player positioning.

This is Hiro Capital’s 4th DSports and ‘connected fitness’ investment, and it joins Zwift, FitXR and NURVV. Hiro has also invested in eight games startups in the UK, USA and Europe, as befits the heritage of cofounder and partner Ian Livingstone, OBE,CBE, who is the former chairman of Tomb Raider publisher Eidos plc and all-round gaming pioneer.

PlayerData says it has captured more than 10,000 team sessions across UK soccer and rugby, and logged over 50 million meters of play. It also has strong network effects, it says. Every time a new team encounters one using Playerdata’s platform, it generates 5 more clubs as users.

Roy Hotrabhvanon is cofounder and CEO of PlayerData, and is a former international-level archer. He’s joined by Hayden Ball, cofounder and CTO, a firmware and cloud infrastructure expert.

playerdata app

playerdata app

In a statement Hotrabhvanon said: “Our mission is to bring fine-grained data and insight to clubs across team sports, helping them supercharge their game-making, improve player performance, and avoid injury… Our ultimate goal is to implement cutting-edge insights from pioneering wearables that are applicable to any team in any discipline at any level.”

Cherry Freeman, co-founding Partner at Hiro says: “PlayerData ticks all of our key boxes: a huge TAM with over 3m grass-roots clubs; a deep moat built on shared player data, machine learning and highly actionable predictive algorithms; compelling customer network effects; and a really impressive yet humble founding team.”

The PlayerData news forms part of a wider growth in digital sports, which includes such breakout names as Peloton, Tonal, Mirror, as well as Hiro’s portfolio investment, Zwift. With the pandemic putting an emphasison both home workouts and general health, the fascination with digital measurement of performance now has a growing grip on the sector.

Speaking to TechCrunch, Freeman added: “We think there are something like 3 million teams that are potential customers for PlayerData. Obviously the number of runners is enormous, and they only need to get a small slice of that market to have a very, very large business. At the end of the day everyone, everyone works out, even if you just go for a walk, so the target market’s huge and they started with running but their technology is applicable to a whole raft of other sports.”

#capital, #ceo, #chairman, #cofounder, #cycling, #edinburgh, #europe, #fiction, #finance, #hiro, #machine-learning, #partner, #player, #tc, #tesco, #tonal, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #wearable-technology, #zwift

Put your city on the TC map — TechCrunch’s European Cities Survey 2021

TechCrunch is embarking on a major new project to survey European founders and investors in cities outside the larger European capitals.

Over the next few weeks, we will ask entrepreneurs in these cities to talk about their ecosystems, in their own words.

This is your chance to put your city on the Techcrunch Map!

This is the follow-up to the huge survey of investors (see also below) we’ve done over the last 6 or more months, largely in capital cities.

These formed part of a broader series of surveys we’re doing regularly for ExtraCrunch, our subscription service which unpacks key issues for startups and investors.

In the first wave of surveys (as you can see below) the cities we wrote about were largely capitals.

This time, we will be surveying founders and investors in Europe’s other cities to capture how European hubs are growing, from the perspective of the people on the ground.

We’d like to know how your city’s startup scene is evolving, how the tech sector is being impacted by COVID-19, and generally how your city will evolve.

We leave submissions mostly un-edited, and generally looking for at least one or two paragraphs in answers to the questions.

So if you are tech startup founder or investor in one of these cities please fill out our survey form here.

Austria: Graz, Linz
Belgium: Antwerp
Croatia: Zagreb, Osjek
Czech Republic: Brno, Ostrava, Plzen
England: Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester
Estonia: Tartu
France: Toulouse, Lyon, Lille
Germany: Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Bielefeld, Frankfurt
Greece: Thessaloniki
Ireland: Cork
Israel: Jerusalem
Italy: Trieste, Bologna, Turin, Florence, Milan
Netherlands: Delft, Eindhoven, Rotterdam, Utrecht
Northern Ireland: Belfast, Derry
Poland: Gdańsk, Wroclaw, Krakow, Poznan
Portugal: Porto, Braga
Romania: Cluj, Lasi, Timisoara, Oradea, Brasov
Scotland: Edinburgh, Glasgow
Spain: Valencia
Sweden: Malmo
Switzerland: Geneva, Lausanne

Thank you for participating. If you have questions you can email mike@techcrunch.com and/or reply on Twitter to @mikebutcher

Here are the cities that previously participated in The Great TechCrunch Survey of Europe’s VCs:

Amsterdam/Netherlands

Athens/Greece

Berlin/Germany

Brussels/Belgium

Bucharest/Romania

Copenhagen/Denmark

Dublin/Ireland

Helsinki/Finland

Lisbon/Portugal

London/UK

Madrid & Barcelona/Spain (Part 1 & Part 2)

Oslo/Norway

Paris/France

Prague/Czech Republic

Rome, Milan/Italy

Stockholm/Sweden

Tel Aviv/Israel

Vienna/Austria

Warsaw/Poland (Part 1 & Part 2)

Zurich/Switzerland

#articles, #austria, #bristol, #business, #cambridge, #cologne, #economy, #edinburgh, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #florence, #hamburg, #munich, #oxford, #startup-company, #tc, #techcrunch, #trieste, #verizon-media

Rocket startup Skyrora achieves a successful sub-orbital launch from Scottish island

This past weekend was a busy one for rocket launches, including for new launch companies hoping to join the ranks of SpaceX and Rocket Lab as private, operational space launch providers. Edinburgh-based Skyrora achieved a significant milestone for its program, successfully launching its Skylark Nano rocket from an island off the coast of Scotland on Saturday.

Skyrora has been developing its launch system with a goal of devouring affordable transportation for small payloads. The company has flown its Skylark Nano twice previously, including a first launch back in 2018, but this is the first time it has taken off from Shetland, a Scottish site that is among three proposed commercial spaceports to be located in Scotland.

Skylark Nano is a development spacecraft that Skyrora created while it work son its Skylark-L and Skyrora XL orbital commercial launch vehicles. Nano doesn’t reach space – it flies to a height of around 6KM (roughly 20,000 feet) but it does help the company demonstrate its propulsion technologies, and also gather crucial information that helps it in developing its Skylark L suborbital commercial launch craft, as well as Skyrora XL, which will aim to serve customers with orbital payload needs.

Skylark L is currently in development, and Skyrora recently achieved a successful full static test fire of that rocket. The goal is to begin launching commercially from a UK-based spaceport as early as 2022.

Skyrora’s approach is also unique because it employs both additive manufacturing (3D printing) in construction of its vehicles, and uses a kerosene fuel developed from discarded plastic waste that the company claims produces fewer emissions than traditional rocket fuel.

#3d-printing, #additive-manufacturing, #aerospace, #edinburgh, #flight, #outer-space, #rocket-lab, #rocket-launch, #scotland, #skyrora, #space, #spaceflight, #spaceport, #spacex, #tc

Ooni’s Koda 16 pizza oven is the rare kitchen gadget that delivers on its promise

Ooni (nee Uuni), has been around for a few years now, but its latest oven, the Koda 16, launched in March. Just like everyone else, I’ve been cooped up at home for weeks with nothing but all of the projects I would get around to one day.

At the top of my list was learning how to make decent pizza at home (we don’t have many decent pizzaiolo’s in my town). I’d been hearing about the Ooni oven for a while — mostly via Neven Mrgan’s great Instagram feed — so I spring for the Koda 13” and started firing some pies.

I was immediately enamored with the eye popping results. Chewy, crispy, well cooked Neopolitain-style pizza within 30 minutes of taking it out of the box. And I’m not exaggerating. After a couple of pizza launching disasters (this is not as easy as it looks, people), I was eating the product of my own hands and the Ooni’s 800+ degree baking surface. While not even an advanced amateur chef, I have always had somewhat of an aversion to single-use gadgets. Technique always wins, right?

The problem with that thinking is that it is really impossible to cook true Neopolitain pizza at home in the US because our ovens just don’t get hot enough. A ton of experimental dough situations have resulted in a few workable New York style pizza recipes for 500 degree ovens. But for thinner crusts there is zero substitute for that true 800-1000 degree cooking environment.

The Ooni delivers that in under 20 minutes attached to a bog standard propane tank. It’s brilliant.

Ooni co-founder Kristian Tapaninaho started messing around with building a decent pizza oven in 2010. He got into making home pies and realized that there was pretty much no way to do it other than building a large, expensive oven in his back yard. He began prototyping what became the company’s original oven in 2012, and he says that the original oven’s design stemmed from a super simple yet super obvious (in hindsight) design constraint: what could they ship affordably?

Due to shipping restrictions, it had to be under 10kg and had to fit in a certain footprint. Everything piece of design work on the first oven stemmed from those constraints. Why, for instance, does the Ooni oven have 3 legs? Because the 4th one would have put them over weight.

Within those constraints, the original oven took shape — delivering that super high-heat surface with a simple wood-fired unit that more than doubled its original funding goal on Kickstarter. Kristian and co-founder Darina Garland defined this high-heat, high results at-home outdoor pizza oven market at scale, along with other later entrants like Roccbox.

I had a bit of a chat with Kristian about how Ooni was doing lately, with the specter of coronavirus and the new business realities that have resulted.

“This COVID-19 situation began for us in mid January as our suppliers started informing us that they were delaying return to work from Chinese New Year,” Kristian said. “At the time the worry was if we’d have enough supply for the summer which is of course peak season for us. As our supply chain was restarting, it was clear that we’d have similar lockdowns in our main markets as well. Overall, however, we started the year at a strong inventory position which helped buffer any interruptions.”

He says that Ooni was lucky given that the initial production run of the Ooni 16 was already in warehouses by the time things got really hairy in Edinburgh and the surrounding areas. And the team was fairly ready for the new challenge of stay-at-home work.

“Much of our team comms already happened over Slack so the team’s been really quite well setup for working from home,” he told me. “We have great relationships with our 3rd party logistics providers and while they’ve been incredibly busy, they’ve been able to maintain a good level of service, at least in the grand scheme of things.”

In addition, Ooni has just launched the Fyra, an updated version of the original Ooni 3. It’s a wood pellet powered design that offers a similar “get up and go” quick pizza path. The wood brings an additional smoky flavor, of course. At 23 pounds, it’s a super portable wood version of the gas stoves I’ve been playing with.

Yeah, but how does it work?

Once Kristian saw that I was playing with my Ooni 13 he offered to send the newly launched 16″ model over to play with. I jumped at the chance to make a bigger pie.

My experiences with the Ooni ovens so far have been nothing short of revelatory. Though I’ve pondered indoor options like the Breville Smart Oven, I knew in my heart that I wanted that brilliant taste that comes from live fire and the high heat that would let me enjoy super thin crust pizzas. I’ve now fired over three dozen pizzas in the Ooni and am coming to know it a bit better. Its recovery time, rotation needs and cooking characteristics. I have never used a more enjoyable cooking utensil.

I’ve tried a few dough recipes, because I know I’ll get questions about it, but I’ve used two to good effect. Ooni’s own recommended dough (though I hydrate a bit more) and this Peter Reinhart recipe, recommended to me by Richie Nakano.

The pizzas that result are bursting with umami. The oven enables that potent combination of cheese, sauce and randomly distributed carbonization that combines into the perfect bite. Your pie goes in somewhat pedestrian — whitish dough, red sauce, hunks of fresh mozzarella — and you see it come to life right in front of your eyes.  Within 60-90 seconds, you’ve transmogrified the simple ingredients into a hot endocrine rush of savory, chewy flavor.

As I mentioned before, the setup is insanely simple. Flip out the legs, put it on an outdoor surface with some support and attach a propane tank. An instant of lighting knob work and you’re free to step away. Fifteen minutes later and you’ve got a cooking environment to die for. The flip down legs make the 13” model super great for taking camping or anywhere you want to go to create your own pizza party. Ooni even sells a carrying case.

The design of the oven’s upper shell means that all of the heat is redirected inwards, letting the baking surface reach 850 degrees easily in the center, up to 1000 degrees near the back. The Koda 16 has such an incredibly roomy cooking surface that it is easy to see to the sides and around your pizza a bit to tell how the crust is rising and how the leoparding is coming along. Spinning your pie mid-cook is such an important part of this kind of oven and the bigger mouth is smashing for this.

Heck I even cooked steak in it, to mouth watering results.

“Our core message has always been ‘great restaurant quality pizza at home’ and while the situation is what it is, more people spending more time at home looking for great home cooking options has been strong for our online sales,” Kristian said when I asked him about whether more people were discovering Ooni now. “Pizza making is a great way to have fun family time together. It’s about those shared experiences that bring people together.”

This mirrors my experiences so far. I’m not precisely ‘good’ at this yet, but I’m plugging away and the Ooni makes even my misses delicious. This weekend I was even confident enough to hold a socially distanced pizza pick-up party. Friends and family put in their orders and I fired a dozen pies of all kinds. Though I couldn’t hug them, I could safely hand them a freshly fired pizza and to most Italians like me, that’s probably better.

In my mind, the Ooni Koda pulls off a rare trifecta of kitchen gadgets: It retains the joy and energy of live flame, delivers completely on its core premise and still remains incredibly easy to use. Highly recommend.

 

#chewy, #chinese-new-year, #co-founder, #edinburgh, #energy, #fireplaces, #food-and-drink, #instagram, #kickstarter, #new-york, #online-sales, #oven, #pizza, #tc, #united-states

Rocket startup Skyrora shifts production to hand sanitizer and face masks for coronavirus response

One of the newer companies attempting to join the rarified group of private space launch startups actually flying payloads to orbit has redirected its entire UK-based manufacturing capacity towards COVID-19 response. Skyrora, which is based in Edinburgh, Scotland, is answering the call of the UK government and the NHS to manufacturers to do what they can to provide much-needed healthcare equipment for frontline responders amid the coronavirus crisis.

Skyrorary says that the entirety of its UK operations, including all human resources and its working capital are now dedicated to COVID-19 response. The startup, which was founded in 2017, had been working towards test flights of its first spacecraft, making progress including an early successful engine test using its experimental, more eco-friendly rocket fuel that was completed in February.

For now, though, Skyrora will be focusing full on building hand sanitizer, its first effort to support the COVID-19 response. The company has already produce their initial batch using WHO guidelines and requirements, and now aims to scale up its production efforts to the point where it can manufacture the sanitizer at a rate of over 10,000 250 ml bottles per week.

There’s actually a pretty close link between rocketry and hand sanitizer: Ethanol, the form of alcohol that provides the fundamental disinfecting ingredient for hand sanitizer, has been used in  early rocket fuel. Skyrora’s ‘Ecosene’ fuel is a type of kerosene, however, which is a much more common modern aviation and rocket fuel.

In addition to sanitizer, Skyrora is now in talks with the Scottish Government to see where 3D-printed protective face masks might have a beneficial impact on ensuring health worker safety. It’s testing initial prototypes now, and will look to mass produce the protective equipment after those tests verify its output.

Plenty of companies are pitching in where they can, including by shifting their production lines and manufacturing capacity towards areas of greatest need. It’s definitely an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ moment, but there’s definitely a question of what happens to businesses that shift their focus this dramatically once the emergency passes, especially for young startups in emerging industries.

#aerospace, #chemistry, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #edinburgh, #ethanol, #health, #hygiene, #nhs, #rocket, #scotland, #skyrora, #space, #startup-company, #startups, #tc, #uk-government, #united-kingdom, #world-health-organization