Series of images from animal behaviour studies contain vast quantities of
complex and highly valuable data. Extracting the value from this
scientific data often requires expert annotation. This is frequently an
intuitive process based on experience gained through years of training to
make important decisions. Experts are rare, expensive and hard to train so
the iBehave project at the University of Edinburgh (2006-2009) sought to
reverse this model and deliver systems that learned to mimic expert
annotation of video data. This effort resulted in a new spinout from the
School of Informatics, a software company called Actual Analytics Ltd
(Actual). Founded in 2010, Actual delivers innovative software solutions
for behaviour analytics which use machine learning algorithms to process
video data of laboratory animals to improve the accuracy of the
experimental process and reduce the need to use animals in scientific
Edinburgh Designs Ltd., (EDL) was spun-out to exploit ERPE research from
the original Wave Power Group. With six staff and an annual turnover
approaching £2M EDL has supplied the equipment and control systems for
wave tanks in 19 countries including the world's largest
computer-controlled wave test facility, the US Navy Manoeuvring and
Station Keeping Tank. They are currently completing the world's first
circular tank, combining waves with currents in any relative direction,
which is operated by the 6 person company, "FloWave" EDL, still run by the
founding staff, it is the world-leading supplier of wave-making technology
for scientific and recreational facilities.
Impact: Policy / animal welfare. Policy implementation changed and
bird welfare improved.
Significance: Our research informed welfare guidelines impacting
upon housing of around 200 million laying birds in the EU. Our work has
been adopted in EC regulations, and they are pushing all EU member states
to ensure all their producers install aerial perches over slatted
Beneficiaries: Laying birds, welfare organisations, egg producers,
and the general public.
Attribution: Prof. Sparks, Dr. Sandilands (SRUC). Involved
collaboration with Prof. Green at Heriot Watt University acting as a
Reach: Guidelines have been adopted in EU legislation.
Impact type: Public Policy
Significance: The research provided evidence for formulation of
government policies to ameliorate poor air quality, to which fine
particulate matter (PM2.5), O3 and NO2
are the most important contributors; PM2.5 alone reduces
average life expectancy in the UK by 6 months and costs £9bn-£20bn a year.
The research has been incorporated into UK national guidance and
policy-evidence documents for Defra, the Health Protection Agency, and the
Beneficiaries are the public and the environment.
Research; date; attribution: EaStCHEM research (1995-2011) (a)
established reliable techniques to measure NO2 for a national
protocol, and (b) quantified the impact of pollutant emissions on PM2.5
and O3 concentrations, and on hospital admissions and deaths.
Heal (EaStCHEM) led the research and wrote, collaboratively in some cases,
the reports and the work cited.
Reach: UK wide.
Impact: EaStCHEM spin out Albachem (1994), subsequently
incorporated into the Almac group,
enabling the latter company to become a world leader in the provision of
Significance: Chemical synthesis is competitive with recombinant
methods for commercial
production of the therapeutic polypeptides that represent ~50% of drugs in
big pharma pipelines
and have a market value in 2008 of over $13B. The value attributable to
Ramage's methods for
polypeptide syntheses over the REF period is estimated at approximately
Beneficiaries: Drug manufacturers, contract research
organisations, patients, clinicians.
Research: Studies (1993-6) led by Ramage (at the University of
Edinburgh) on new methods for
high-yield total syntheses and purification of long polypeptides.
Reach: Almac's protein-manufacturing team remains in the UK with
24 staff members. The Almac
Group, headquartered in N. Ireland, has 3300 employees globally (1300
outside UK) and sells to
600 companies worldwide.
ERPE research led to the following impacts in the REF2014 period:
A spin-out company, Contemplate Ltd, is using advanced static analysis
technology in global top-ten
investment banks and other clients to discover previously undetected
defects in enterprise-scale
business-critical multi-threaded Java codebases. The impact is in terms of
delivered to Contemplate's clients by this technology and in terms of the
formation and growth of
Contemplate as an employer and a successful business.
Impact: Animal Health and Welfare, Economics: The BVD vaccine
associated with emergence of BNP was withdrawn from sale.
Significance: BNP cases have been reported worldwide. On affected
farms, the case fatality rate is very high, with losses of up to 5% of
calves in a herd being reported. Despite the vaccine being withdrawn,
cases continue to be found in some calves born to dams that have been
historically vaccinated. In addition, reporting has increased due to
increased awareness and Zoetis subsidising post-mortem examinations.
However, as an indirect measure, the number of cases being diagnosed at
post-mortem at SRUC fell by 42% between 2012 and 2013.
Beneficiaries: Livestock Industry, Animal Health Company, Farmers.
Attribution: Work performed by University of Edinburgh (Penny,
Morrison, Sargison, Bell) and SRUC (Hosie, Howie, Kerr, Caldow) identified
BNP as a new disease entity, elucidated the cause, and developed
strategies to reduce the incidence. This also involved a collaboration
with the Moredun Research Institute (Willoughby)
Reach: BNP is recognised world-wide (a peak of 4500 cases in 2011)
including France, Germany, United Kingdom, Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium,
Luxembourg, Italy, and Spain. The disease is unknown in countries which do
not vaccinate against BVD (Denmark, Austria, and Switzerland)
Impact: Economic, public policy and animal health and welfare:
Selective breeding based upon identification of PRNP genotypes can
eliminate animals that are susceptible to scrapie from the flock.
Significance: UK sheep meat exports are worth >£380million.
Breeding for scrapie resistance protected the sheep industry from similar
damage to that inflicted by BSE on cattle and the UK economy.
Beneficiaries: Farmers, animals, consumers
Attribution: Professor Hunter and Dr. Goldmann (Roslin Institute,
now part of UoE) identified polymorphisms of the PrP (PRNP) gene
linked to scrapie susceptibility and resistance in sheep.
Reach: International, programmes breeding for resistance to
scrapie in sheep are now used in the UK, Europe and USA.
Edinburgh's research in multilingual speech synthesis has had clinical
and commercial impact, and has resulted in a large and diverse community
Clinical applications: Our research has enabled the construction
of natural-sounding, personalised synthetic voices from recordings of
speech from people with disordered speech due to conditions such as
Parkinson's disease or Motor Neurone Disease. These synthetic voices are
used in assistive technology devices that allow sufferers of these
conditions to communicate more easily and effectively.
Commercial take-up: Our research has achieved commercial impact
through the licensing of technology components, and through the activities
of start-up companies.
Community of users: The Festival Speech Synthesis System (v2.1
released in November 2010) is a complete open-source text-to-speech system
released under an unrestrictive X11-type license, and is distributed as
part of many major Linux distributions.