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16 May, 2019 - 10:43 By Kate Sweeney

Cambridge University offers cash and mentorship for entrepreneurial postdocs

Tongtong Zhu of Poro Technologies

Cambridge University postdocs are being handed the opportunity to win thousands of pounds of seed funding as well as help to incubate ideas for new business ventures.

Cambridge Enterprise, the university’s commercialisation arm, and the Entrepreneurial Postdocs of Cambridge (EPOC) have again joined forces to run the annual business plan competition for postdocs. Entries are now being taken.

In terms of cash, there are three prizes: £20,000 investment for the first place winner, £10,000 investment for the second and £5,000 for the third. Entering the competition also teaches postdocs about academic entrepreneurship. 

Entrants will receive expert advice on shaping and refining their business plan. All semi-finalists will be coached on how to pitch to investors and matched with a seasoned mentor from Cambridge Enterprise’s wide-reaching network.

To enter, postdocs submit a business plan outlining their idea. Projects must be led by a current postdoc of the university or have a majority of team members who are current postdocs.

If potential candidates are unfamiliar with how to write a business plan or require help to talk through their idea they can attend one of the Cambridge Enterprise/EPOC workshops on how to write a business plan with Adelina Chalmers (The Geek Whisperer) and later receive an introduction to business modelling with Ludo Chapman, founder of The Innovation Practice.

Cambridge Enterprise will also be hosting weekly informal surgeries at the Hauser Forum at the West Cambridge site, The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPdA) on Mill Lane and the School of Clinical Medicine. During the competition, budding entrepreneurs keen to talk through their business idea can drop by any of these locations to discuss queries.

The deadline for all entries is July 14 and the semi-finalists will be announced on July 29.

The semi-final judging round is September 23 to Friday October 4 and finalists will be announced on October 7.

On October 16 the finalists will pitch to the judges in preparation for the Grand Finale on October 31 at Downing College. The Grand Finale gives contestants the experience of pitching before the judges and an audience.

As Business Weekly reported at the time, Poro Technologies – which is developing next-generation LED technology – won the £20,000 first prize in the 2018 competition.

CEO Tongtong Zhu said: “This competition is truly a great experience thanks to Cambridge Enterprise and EPOC. I was thrilled to be selected for the first prize and very grateful for both the recognition from the judges and the opportunity to have my business plan critiqued. 

“The mentoring and coaching really helped me improve the plan and my pitching skills. Winning the prize and the investment from Cambridge Enterprise has allowed Poro Technologies to take a further step towards the commercialisation of its scientific findings.”

AZ and CJBS call for budding healthcare innovators

AstraZeneca and the Entrepreneurship Centre at Cambridge Judge Business School have joined forces to fasttrack bright ideas in BioMedTech and general healthcare to commercial success.

The initiative crystallises at the Venture Creation Weekend from May 31 to June 2 at Judge. 

Budding bio entrepreneurs are being challenged to build a team and pitch to investors in a head-spinning 50 hours. Technologies on the radar include:-

  • Novel biological targets
  • Therapeutics and research technologies
  • Digital health (including artificial intelligence, connected data sets)
  • Diagnostics or any transformative healthcare solution
  • Genomic-driven drug discovery and application.

One or more of the teams will be invited for an interview to join Judge’s Accelerate Cambridge incubator programme.

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