QTIP Innovation course at the Imperial Enterprise Lab (June 2019)

Imperial College is world renowned for its ability to help academics pursue entrepreneurial activities. While the college does offer a large amount guidance on developing these soft-skills, postgraduate students typically often do not take advantage of this; being either too busy with their academic work or unaware that commercialization is something that could be relevant to them. In order to gain some exposure to the kinds ideas and methods of thinking that facilitate a successful start-up, QSE cohort 3 undertook a weeklong (3rd – 7th June 2019) “Tech Entrepreneur Bootcamp” run by Studio Zao in collaboration with Imperial College Enterprise Lab.

The course split us into teams and tasked us with developing an idea for a quantum-related start-up to pitch to a panel of judges at the end of the week. We were based in the Imperial College Enterprise Lab and we also were treated to a trip to the Advanced Hackspace at the White City Campus, the team there introduced us to the facilities available and we were able put these to good use while developing our pitches. Along the way we were given a series of talks and classes aimed at developing our understanding of entrepreneurship and aid us in developing our prospective start-ups. These included sessions on lean entrepreneurship, efficient ideation, the rapid prototyping of products, ensuring commercial viability, and how to effectively introduce a product to industry.

Outside of the activities aimed at enabling us to improve pitches we were also given some more general guidance with regards to careers post-PhD/MSc and commercializing academic work. These included an informative session with a member of the careers service, a talk from a current postgraduate student with experience in creating a start-up, and an in-depth introduction on intellectual property and the services that Imperial offers to secure this for its students and staff. While this kind information is available through other means at Imperial it was extremely helpful to have it all in one place and at a time where we felt comfortable putting our academic work to one side to give it the attention it deserves.

The week ended with the groups presenting their pitches to the panel of judges. This was designed to emulate a pitch to potential investors and so we had to prepare ourselves to be able to answer practical questions about the viability of our business ideas. All the groups managed to put together very convincing pitches and the judges were impressed with both the high standard of the ideas and that we had managed to develop them from scratch only four days before.

QTIP 2019

Congratulations to Liu Liu, Timo, James, and Yuxun who proposed an innovative cloud-based device networking platform, winning the pitch competition!

Special thanks to Grant Vernon of Studio Zao for running the sessions. His enthusiasm and entrepreneurial knowledge made the week both enjoyable and extremely rewarding.

Alistair Smith

QSE Cohort 3 Rep