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Turning innovative research into successful business

Press release issued: 8 July 2010

Discoveries made by research postgraduates could one day become the winning businesses of the future, thanks to a new programme from the University of Bristol.

The Education Team from the University’s industry specialists, RED (Research & Enterprise Development), ran its first event for research postgraduates on July 5 and 6 exploring ideas around enterprise, innovation and entrepreneurial business.

Thirty-five participants were put through their paces in a Dragon’s Den style programme, in which they were asked to develop a technology start-up business plan in just 24 hours. 

They were exposed to a variety of experts working in technology spin-out within the university, local intellectual property lawyers, venture capitalists, and people working along the interface between academic research and commercial and social enterprise.

Course Director, Dave Jarman, said: “The premise of the course is to plant the notion that having a good idea is not enough to change the world, you need to be able to do something with it – that might be a licensed discovery, a venture-capital-backed spin-out company, a grant-funded social enterprise, or simply being better at advocating for good new ideas in big organisations weighed down by inertia.”

“By encouraging and empowering the researchers of the future to spot and seize opportunities that emerge from their discoveries we can accelerate the rate at which good ideas actually make the world a better place. We have basically hot-housed that process over two days and enabled the researchers to meet some really interesting, inspiring, and useful people who might advance their careers in research.”

The programme was attended by postgraduates drawn from the Advanced Composites Centre for Innovation and Science, the Bristol Centre for Functional Nanomaterials, the Bristol Chemical Synthesis Doctoral Training Centre, the Bristol Centre for Complexity Sciences, and the Industrial Doctorate Centre in Systems.

The winning team impressed the panel with their idea for colour-changing contact-lenses which help diabetics manage their condition without regular blood tests.

The course is the first of its kind at the University and RED hope to provide follow-on schemes in future years for this cohort and to widen the scheme to involve more PhD researchers from more disciplines.