EDINBURGH university’s renowned Roslin Institute has teamed up with a private equity firm with the aim of creating potential $1 billion (£0.8bn) companies in sectors such as animal health and agricultural technology.

The partners have launched the Food & Agriculture Science Transformer to use the financial firepower that Deep Science Ventures can provide to maximise the commercial potential of the expertise offered by academics working at Roslin institute.

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Famed as the birthplace of Dolly the cloned sheep, Roslin has specialists working in a range of fields, including genomics, veterinary biosciences and agriculture.

The FAST partnership will provide up to £500,000 funding to support the development of new businesses that are seen as having the potential to help tackle key challenges faced by farmers, the public and the planet’s ecosystems.

Commercialisation specialist John Mackenzie at the innovation centre linked to Roslin said the programme had the potential to create the first ‘unicorn’ in the Animal Health, Agri-tech and Aquaculture (AAA) sector. Unicorns are young firms that have reached a valuation of $1bn.

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Edward Perello of London-based Deep Science ventures said: “ Over the coming years, our ambition is to work with the right founders and partners, and create hundreds of high value jobs at the intersection of technology and agriculture.”

Deep Science Ventures’ portfolio includes a stake in Roslin-based Beta Bugs, which develops insect breeds.