The Deep Tech Network’s first virtual event brought together over 50 people from startups, industry and academia in a new online networking format.
The event, held at the beginning of June 2020, attracted attendees involved in the development of technologies based in science and engineering, including researchers, entrepreneurs and investors.
Organised by Imperial’s Chemistry department, Imperial White City Incubator and Upstream (a partnership between Imperial College London and Hammersmith and Fulham Council), the Deep Tech Network encourages interaction between business and Imperial’s researchers to enable the growth of a deep tech innovation community around the White City Campus.
Connecting the White City community and beyond
This was the sixth event organised by the Deep Tech Network since its launch in May 2019 and, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus, it adopted a virtual format with the aim of recreating the energy of a traditional networking event.
Many attendees came from White City itself and the event also attracted people from further afield in Europe and Asia, demonstrating one of the advantages of a virtual networking event.
Patricia Lalla, Director of startup Wolfskill, who attended the event said: “I'm a White City resident, with many years experience in video editing, including for BBC Music. This was my first time attending a Deep Tech Network-ing event and, as I am seeking an expert to work with on my startup, it was great to have the opportunity to deliver my one minute pitch.
“The session was a valuable opportunity to connect with so many relevant and interesting innovators, and I have already made some contacts through it. Going virtual allowed us to connect and hear from people based everywhere from Finland to France and Vietnam.”
Adapting to an online networking format
Using the online chat as a means for people to introduce themselves and comment throughout, the event included two rounds of quickfire 60 second pitches from individuals involved in deep tech who were looking for collaborators.
These included those from startups and companies working in areas such as sustainable construction, Space technology investment, waste heat recovery, environmental impact reporting and the use of virtual reality to learn musical instruments.
Abhishek Srivastava, Executive Director of Teknobuilt, who attended the event said: “I thoroughly enjoyed pitching at the Deep Tech Network-ing event and the opportunity to meet many like-minded individuals. I was surprised at how easily I was able to form close connections in the networking rooms. Through the event, I have since found potential collaborators and had positive engagement with others I spoke to. Thanks to the Deep Tech Network organising team for a really useful event!”
Some advantages of a virtual event
Between the rounds of pitches attendees moved into break-out rooms, as a means to replicate the usual grouping and discussion that occurs at a traditional face-to-face networking event. 60 per cent of attendees reported that they had made a valuable connection after attending the first two breakout rooms.
Imperial College London White City Incubator Startup Programmes Co-ordinator, Richelle McNae said: “It’s a challenge to run an online event that makes participants feel part of a community but it also has advantages in terms of allowing people to participate who may otherwise have been unable to attend in person.
“The pitches ran very smoothly and gave these organisations some great exposure. From the feedback we received attendees felt that being in a breakout room with limited time allowed them to maximise the conversation whereas in person they might not have moved around the room as effectively.”
The next Deep Tech Network event will be coming up in September, with a mix of showcase presentations and networking. Potential attendees can stay updated with events hosted by the incubator by signing up for their newsletter.
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