In Your Shoes - Mhairi Towler

Dr. Mhairi Towler integrates a background in science with animation skills to use visuals to communicate science to a wide audience.

Mhairi gained a degree in Biochemistry and a PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of Dundee.  She carried out postdoctoral work, both in San Francisco and Dundee.  She was a founder member and Co-chair of the College of Life Sciences Postdoctoral Association. During her time as a postdoc she also completed a postgraduate certificate in teaching and learning in higher education and while studying for this recognised the importance of the visual as a cognitive tool.  She completed a Masters in Animation and Visualisation at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design at the University of Dundee in 2012 to become a scientific visualisation practitioner. 

Mhairi is Founder and Director of the multi-award winning animation production company, Vivomotion (  The company offers a service of bespoke animations for scientific communication as well as training workshops for postgraduate researchers and academic staff on the visual communication of research. She was a member of The Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Young Academy Scotland from 2012 – 2019 and is a member of the Association of Scottish Businesswomen and Dundee & Angus Chamber of Commerce.  Mhairi recently joined Angus Choral Society.

The Nation Grieves

Today, Monday 19th September 2022, is a historical day.  The late Queen Elizabeth II was laid to rest with an accompanying ceremony lasting all day. She had strong ties to Glamis Castle where she spent much time as a child. I live in Glamis, so thought I would share a picture of the flowers laid at the gates of the castle.  

Invest in Skåne, Sweden - Trade Mission Begins

After attending the webinar sessions about Invest in Skåne Sweden in August, I decided I should apply for the in person trade mission.  Life Sciences is the main sector that Vivomotion supports with bespoke animations and training, and as Medicon Valley, a life science cluster, was promoted, it seemed like a good opportunity. 

Vivomotion were accepted to join the delegation where I would also represent BioDundee, so after years of no travel it was off to Sweden.  After navigating security at Edinburgh airport, the flight to Copenhagen was on time and our cases arrived immediately on arrival.  We then hopped on a train to cross the Øresund Bridge to Malmo in the south of Sweden, followed by a rather hairy taxi ride to Lund where we were staying.  

We started the trip with a delicious Asian fusion meal at Restaurant Ihsiri, just across the road from our hotel.  

Invest in Skåne Showcase Gaming and Life Science Sectors

Day1 kicks off with a visit to Game Habitat DevHub in Malmo.  Erik Sundeberg, Comms Manager, told us that it is a community-focused, non-profit game cluster organisation supported by members and partners with the aim to enable the best environment for game development. They've created an ecosystem for games studios to feed off each other, and through meet-ups, events and talks have given Malmo a new identity in Gaming.  There's an opportunity for Games Studios to base themselves there for 3 months which was an attractive opportunity for Kongomerate Games and Pocket Sized Hands who were part of our delegation from Dundee.  There was even a Sauna in the building if you wanted to relax while brain storming...

Next, we headed to The Game Assembly, a school dedicated to training game developers. We had a tour from Linda Nilsson, who told us about the intensive training the students go through and how they are well saught after when finished the specialised programme.  They learn by doing and creating games, including the gaming engine. 

Lunch was at Salhallen, an old station buildng converted into a food hall with plenty to choose from, so I decided to try Swedish meat balls. We were joined by Steve Angus, Country Director for Trade & Investment in Sweden.  

After lunch we headed to Invest in Skånes offices where we had a presentation from Christer Månsson about Healthtech and Life Sciences in the area and also a demo from CEO and Founder of HeroSight, Daniel Kindstrand, who are using AR/VR to train people to work safely in industrial settings. This was followed by one-to-one business meetings. 

After all this networking it was time for a drink and some dinner so we headed to Restaurant Duxiana where we were hosted for a delicious meal by Micael Györei, Invest in Skane Senior Investment Manager for Life Sciences, and Honorary Consul for the British Embassy in Stockholm, Claes Ljung. Mr Ljung's business makes Dux beds and he entertained us with a story of when he supplied beds for Tony Blair in Downing Street. The interior decor consisted of slices of mattresses! 


Medicon Valley and Ideon

The second day of visits begins with a tour of Medicon Village by CEO Petter Harman. He tells us how the site was the former site of Astra Zeneca, but is now being developed rapidly into an ecosystem for cross industry collaboration and innovation between universities, hospitals and the private sector and there are now 2800 working in Medicon Village.  Swedish Life Sciences is doing very well and now has 60000 employees. One big difference here compared to the U.K. is the 'Teachers Exception' where researchers own their IP when coming up with new inventions/innovations.  

It was then a hop and a skip over to Ideon Science Park, where we had a tour by Marie Greco of Ideon Innovation PreInk, an incubator space to help people develop their ideas into sustainable businesses. 

After lunch it was further one-to-one business meetings and the mission was complete.  

I managed to fit in a quick visit to see some former colleagues from my research days who now work at the Centre for Basic Research into Metabolism at The University of Copenhagen. It was great to have a catch up.  

We then headed off for dinner, Italian this time, and a few drinks and a karaoke bar to let off steam... 


Final Day Invest in Skåne

We headed off for the airport in plenty time for some shopping and it was farewell to Wonderful Copenhagen. 

A big thanks to Alison Henderson CEO of the Chamber and Ingela Nissen and Emma Miller from the International team at The Chamber of Commerce for organising things on our behalf, with Olof Tedin coordinating events on the Swedish side.  

It was a fantastic learning experience from my side and I have returned to Scotland with new ideas, business insights, new connections and plenty of opportunities for future business developments. Now to follow up on all those connections made and time to reflect...