EnterpriseTECH – learning from expert entrepreneurs and mentoring the next generation

EnterpriseTECH – learning from expert entrepreneurs and mentoring the next generation

EnterpriseTECH – learning from expert entrepreneurs and mentoring the next generation

The student experience - Anna Clay

I'm sure I am not alone in the fact that I am not sure what I want to do after my PhD. My goal is to make a significant impact on the scientific community, but I find myself at a crossroads regarding the direction to pursue. I have always been interested in entrepreneurship but a little daunted by the idea of starting a business due to there being countless unknowns and uncertainties. That was until I enrolled in EnterpriseTECH and it helped me to explore and expand my own entrepreneurial potential.

The course is organised into four days of lectures, followed by a three month group project for a real invention. The lectures are given by a range of entrepreneurs, professionals and very subject matter experts who were passionate about helping us learn. We covered a wide variety of topics including patent law, business models, venture capital and financial literacy. The lectures were interactive with plenty of opportunity to ask questions and discuss ideas with peers. The lectures were just the beginning of the program, though. The real challenge came in the form of our group project.

My team was tasked with developing a commercialisation strategy for a new medical device - an instant diagnostic tool for deep vein thrombosis. In order to assess the commercial feasibility of the device we needed to conduct market research, analyse the competitive landscape, and develop a comprehensive business model and plan for selling and pricing the device. Each project is different, depending on the developmental stage of the invention and so each project employs varying aspects learned during the lecture series. This hands-on experience was incredibly valuable, as it allowed me to apply the skills and knowledge I gained in the lecture series to a real-world scenario. It also provided an opportunity to work with a team of like-minded individuals with different skill sets, which allowed us to learn from each other and leverage our individual strengths to achieve a common goal.

Throughout the course there were workshops and networking events where I was able to network with experienced entrepreneurs and experts and get an insight into their career paths and experiences and I am confident that the relationships and networking opportunities I gained through this program will continue to benefit me throughout my career.

As the program progressed, we were tasked with creating a video infomercial and a pitch that we presented to a panel on pitch night. We carefully crafted a compelling storyline for our video that aimed to strike an emotional chord with patients while simultaneously showcasing the cost-saving benefits to attract investors. To bring our vision to life, we dedicated ourselves to scripting, filming, sourcing the perfect stock footage, and creating captivating animations. In addition, we put together a slide deck and rehearsed our delivery to perfection for the pitch. This was an excellent opportunity to improve my public speaking skills and showcase our work to potential investors and industry experts.

If you're thinking about an entrepreneurial career or want to work with innovators and entrepreneurs, I highly recommend applying to this program. The program provides valuable skills and insights into the world of entrepreneurship, making starting a business achievable rather than something that feels out of reach.

After this course you can also do the EnterpriseTECH STAR course, in which you take your own research/invention to turn it onto a business venture with the support and mentoring of coaches. I would like to do this course in the future.

“The EnterpriseTECH programme has given me chance to work outside of academic science for the first time, and gain experience from completely outside of my skillset. Working on the drug development strategy and business model for a start-up has given me a great insight into how science is taken from the bench through to the consumer.” – Kieron May, PhD student who also completed the programme.

From the panel – Dr Kathryn Chapman, Director, Science & Entrepreneurship, Babraham Research Campus

I had heard exceptional things about EnterpriseTECH from participants, mentors, panel members and companies so I jumped at the chance to be on the panel. The role of the panel members is to listen to the pitches at the end of the programme, ask questions of the teams and give them a realistic ‘pitch experience’. It was slightly intimidating to be questioning teams on products ranging from medical technology to quantum technologies to sustainability but another panel member put me at ease when he asked the question on everyone’s lips: “please can you explain Bitcoin in a way I can understand?”.

As a team member, you need to be prepared for a wide range of questions from the panel. My favourite pitches were those where there was something tangible to see and hold. We had great fun trialling a novel detection device for deep vein thrombosis. The thing that really blew me away being on the panel was the outstanding quality of all the pitches, across the board. By the end of the programme, the teams are exemplars for how to pitch to investors.

Graduates of the EnterpriseTECH programme have gone on to do amazing things! In fact, this year Tim Chisholm, a previous EnterpriseTECH graduate from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge has joined the Accelerate@Babraham 2023 programme to start his company, Neurothread which is developing a new diagnostic for Parkinson’s disease.

EnterpriseTECH is a fabulous way to find out more about entrepreneurship and the decisions involved in creating a market proposition that can attract investment. It’s on the doorstep here in Cambridge, I would definitely recommend being part of this programme whichever way you can.

A company perspective – Dr Janette Thomas, CEO Five Alarm Bio Ltd.

Contributing to the students' growth is a truly rewarding experience and exceeded my expectations. I think there are three compelling reasons to be involved as an ‘inventor’: 

1. Unlock Market Opportunities: Collaborating with bright and motivated students offered a unique opportunity for my company. By working alongside these eager learners, I could tap into their fresh perspectives and enthusiasm, helping us identify new market opportunities. They explored potential areas of growth and innovation, providing valuable insights that we may have overlooked otherwise. Students brought their international network of contacts, granting us access to individuals that might have been difficult to connect with for our smaller company. Not only did they uncover commercial opportunities, but they also produced compelling materials. Moreover, the thought-provoking questions posed by students act as catalysts, refining and shaping our company's thoughts and ideas.

2. Shape the Future of the Industry: As an industry professional, this was an incredible opportunity to mentor and guide students, giving them a glimpse of what it's like to work in our related industry outside of academia. By sharing my expertise and experiences, I could make a  contribution to their personal and professional growth, assisting them in developing the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in their future careers. I felt my guidance and mentorship played a useful role in shaping the next generation of industry leaders.

3. Network and Be Inspired: Joining this program meant I was part of a vibrant community that extends beyond my immediate company. Working with the Judge Institute exposed me to a diverse network of companies and academics, creating valuable opportunities for networking and inspiration. Engaging with like-minded professionals and visionaries from various backgrounds opens doors to new collaborations, partnerships, and insights that have already significantly benefited both my company and personal growth.

This program is as fun as you make it. We met the student more often than required because we enjoyed it. We also had a group meal out and we were so proud of the team that they earned the top marks in this cohort. Furthermore, the connections I established through the Judge Institute prove to be invaluable resources for our company's success and my personal development.