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13 July, 2021 - 11:49 By Tony Quested

£20k bait for early stage technology teams

The Trinity Bradfield Prize 2021 is now open for applications from aspiring academic-entrepreneur teams with an early stage technology idea that has commercial potential.

Three prizes will be awarded from a £20,000 pot; the first is worth £10,000 cash and also includes a bespoke mentoring programme and three months membership of the Bradfield Centre at Cambridge Science Park.

The competition is open to teams that include at least one member of the University of Cambridge – whether undergraduate, postgraduate or early career researcher. 

All applicants must be able to commit to the three-month support programme, including up to eight hours a month of in-person mentoring at the Bradfield Centre.

Managing director of the Bradfield Centre, James Parton, said: “I’m delighted that The Trinity Bradfield Prize is returning for its third edition. The prize has quickly established itself within the University of Cambridge’s entrepreneurial community, with the quality of entries continuing to impress. 

“The membership and mentoring support provided at The Bradfield Centre ensures the competition provides tangible impact to the early stage teams that participate and I’m looking forward to working with the winning teams.”

Dr Simon Engelke, who won first prize in the inaugural Trinity Bradfield Prize  in 2018, said the mentoring and networking he received as part of the prize changed his original aim of commercialising a single technology solution to instead creating Battery Associates, which combines an innovation battery lab, an educational platform, and a consultancy hub.

Dr Engelke, who has a PhD from Cambridge on Lithium-ion batteries, said: “The idea with the Trinity Bradfield Prize was to really explore more the commercial potential and get more real world feedback. 

“Often, if you’re stuck in the research and development phase, you are lacking a bit of the industry perspective – the real perspective. And this was where the Trinity Bradfield Prize came in really handy.

“It was really perfect, because we had all this mentoring during the few months after the prize. And this was really helpful then, but also afterwards; through this support I was able to spend a few more months to dig deeper, and also meet and visit a great many potential commercial partners.

“As a result we have started an educational programme, which is quite successful – called the BatteryMBA – and we now have customers from 22 countries.

“We are also working on data and software development, which was something that had struck me the month after winning the Trinity Bradfield Prize. I was talking to lots of customers and I realised that actually data was a much bigger problem than anticipated. And it was much bigger than the technology solution I had in mind.”

Among the mentors this year are Cambridge Innovation Capital, Cambridge Angels, University of Cambridge Judge Business School and Cambridge Future Tech. 

Jamie Urquhart, co-founder of superchip architect ARM and a Trinity Bradfield Prize mentor, said: “Ideas are the tip of the iceberg – it is what you make of them that really matters. It is great to be able to share my experiences to help business leaders of the future. We need more initiatives like the Trinity Bradfield prize providing that inspiration.”

• The deadline for applications to the Trinity Bradfield Prize is 23:35 on 23 October. Finalists will live pitch to the judging panel at the Bradfield Centre on 23 November in an awards ceremony that will also be livestreamed.

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