We interviewed Yiqiang Zhao to find out more about Looper, the building performance analysis company he co-founded with Dr. Shashwat Ganguly, their entrepreneurial journeys and how the Graduate Enterprise Grant, the University of Edinburgh, and the DDE programme have helped them connect their ideas to the world.

Yiqiang Zhao & Dr. Shashwat Ganguly
Power, interest, and persistence
Web-based performance analysis software to help architects and sustainability specialists accelerate the design validation process
Graduate Enterprise Grant
Making a difference when it comes to fighting climate change is the biggest motivator for me as an entrepreneur.”

What led you to setting up Looper?

I taught design students as part of my PhD in Architecture at the University of Edinburgh and quickly realised there was a gap in design software – especially when it came to sustainability. So I started on a journey to address this, with help from organisations such as CodeBase and Creative Bridge. As soon as I thought I had the basis for a company, I got in touch with Shashwat Ganguly, who was a System Data Science Professor at the time, and asked him to join me.

What real-world challenge do you want to address?

When it comes to analysing how sustainable a potential project is, architects face a slow process. They may need to hire a consultant, run tests and wait for results. Looper offers performance analysis software to help architects automate sustainability analysis, which means they save time, money and are also able to contribute to tackling climate change.

What role does data play in Looper?

Data is completely central to our innovation, as we give architects a way to move away from a model-based system to a database data-driven method. We are building a database of data including materials, costs and carbon ratings to allow a sustainability-focused analysis.

What motivates you as an entrepreneur?

Making the move toward carbon-neutral building is our goal and by creating a commercial entity, we are able to move more quickly and effect more change than I would have if I had pursued a research-based role. My other motivation is my father, whose entrepreneurial spirit has inspired me to always keep striving.

What would you define as success?

For us, success is not only the turnover or size of the business, it’s also the success of our clients. We want them to be securing contracts for museums, galleries, public and commercial spaces – and for our technology to help them reach zero-carbon models.

Edinburgh’s educational system and business ecosystem mean we can hire great people with the right backgrounds in a city that’s geared towards startups.”

What role has the University of Edinburgh and the Graduate Enterprise Grant played in your entrepreneurial journey?

The grant has been invaluable, it will allow us to hire freelancers and grow Looper in the coming months. As an International Student, one very valuable thing the University helped me with was my visa. Without it, there could be no startup. Their support was a foundation for the business.

What is next for Looper?

We are currently running pilot studies before launching a beta that’s open to customers. By the end of this year, we want to be working directly with clients.

Get in touch!

Want to learn more about Looper, click below to head to their website.


Have a look at our programmes