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Bristol postgraduate researchers work with local start-ups on immersive innovation training project

3 September 2020

In June and July 2020, 37 EPSRC-funded University of Bristol postgraduate researchers (PGRs) took part in groundbreaking online innovation training placements, supported by the EPSRC National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) and delivered by Spin Up Science.

These week-long Science Entrepreneur Experience placements, giving students a unique opportunity to explore career pathways in entrepreneurship, were coordinated by the Bristol Doctoral College and delivered by the Bristol-based Spin Up Science.

Founded in 2018 by Dr Ben Miles (a University of Bristol PhD graduate), Spin Up Science works to support the development of scientists and engineers into future leaders and innovators, to strengthen the pipeline of technical expertise emerging from universities, and to increase research commercialisation activity.

Participants in this immersive programme were paired with start-up companies to explore the commercial potential of innovative ideas. Over the course of the training placements, they were given insights into the commercialisation pathway from guest speakers from the Bristol innovation community. Small cohorts were tasked with developing commercial plans for real start-up companies, receiving guidance and feedback from experts in the field. This hands-on approach to entrepreneurship training enabled participants to recognise how the skills they have developed through their research can be transferred to the commercial sector. The course ‘offers the opportunity of applying the vast untapped knowledge that the postgraduate student body has’.

In a necessary break from the face-to-face ‘summer school’ model of delivery, this training was delivered entirely through Spin Up Science’s online platform and was met with enthusiasm. 

Participant Maximilian Kloucek (Physics) said of the placement that it was "a fantastic opportunity for me widen my skillset, but also a genuinely enjoyable experience...I  enjoyed the structure and short-term nature of the training." Luke Lewis-Borrell (Chemistry) said: "I really enjoyed that we were able to work with a real piece of technology and present our final business plan back to the academic who invented it." Alex Qiu (Physics) explained: "It really convinced me that entrepreneurship is an option for me. It was a great experience to add value to a real start-up, and especially to meet and work alongside other highly driven students from the university.”

Students who participated in the experience now have a network of contacts in the field of commercial innovation and opportunities for further placements in the commercial science sector.

Further information

Find out more about the Spin Up Science Science Entrepreneur Experience.

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