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Bacterial cell specialist secures annual DDE Entrepreneurship Academic Award

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Professor Teuta Pilizota, a Professor of Biophysics and a leading bacterial researcher at the University of Edinburgh, has been named as winner of this year’s Entrepreneurship Academic Award.  

Based on nominations from staff and students, the accolade is presented by the University of Edinburgh’s DDE (Data-Driven Entrepreneurship) programme to the individual or team within the University which has made the biggest impact encouraging students, researchers, and the wider community to become entrepreneurs and connect their ideas to the world. 

 A physics undergraduate from University of Zagreb, Croatia, Teuta Pilizota moved to the University of Oxford and then to Princeton University in the US. She then joined the University of Edinburgh as an Assistant Professor in 2013 and, since 2019, has been Research Director of the University’s School of Biological Sciences.

Her group’s research focuses on pressure and energy regulation of bacterial cells which can be utilised for biotechnology purposes, including the development of antibiotics to treat cell disorders.

Along with University of Edinburgh research colleagues Alex McVey and Filippo Menolascina, Teuta formed the start-up OGI Bio. The company, later joined by fellow University of Edinburgh colleagues Francesca Galdi and Jill Howie, has developed a low-cost, automated route for culturing microbes, including bacteria, yeast or algae, which reproduces the process of manual flask culturing. Since its establishment in 2020, OGI Bio has won several awards and funding grants and has completed an initial seed investment round.

Teuta has also provided entrepreneurial support and advice to other University colleagues. These include postdoctoral researcher Smitha Hegde, who recently worked with French collaborators to commercialise affordable designs of basic laboratory equipment, and Amritha Janardanan, a postdoctoral scientist behind a start-up aimed at making conference talks more accessible.  

Professor Teuta Pilizota said: “I’m very pleased and honoured to receive this award. It’s important to acknowledge the opportunities presented by the University, through Edinburgh Innovations (EI), which is critical in enabling commercialisation of scientific innovation across global markets.  

“Following support from EI through my own entrepreneurial journey, I’m privileged to share some of these experiences and learnings with my own team members and other University of Edinburgh colleagues.” 

Professor Jonathan Seckl, Senior Vice Principal at University of Edinburgh, said:

“Teuta Pilizota is a leading biological scientist and a successful founder who is creating an important interface in realising the commercial potential of fantastic science. She is an inspirational figure who is encouraging students, researchers, and the wider community to become entrepreneurs and helping them connect their ideas to the world.” 

Professor Michael Rovatsos,Deputy Vice Principal of Research at University of Edinburgh, said:

“Professor Pilizota embodies the entrepreneurial spirit we seek to nurture at the University through our support activities for commercialising research and translating the excellence of our academics and students to real-world impact. Her work demonstrates the importance of fundamental research for the development of new products and services of benefit to society, and that supporting colleagues and students in their entrepreneurial ambitions is key.” 

Charlotte Waugh, Enterprise and Innovation Programme Lead at Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service, said:

“Teuta has a brilliant mind and constantly assimilates what needs to be done to form a sustainable company. Over recent years, she has significantly developed her entrepreneurial skills. As well as co-founding OGI Bio and playing a key role in securing grant funding and

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