Cambridge postdoc competition changes its name to honour Chris Abell
A record-breaking number of attendees enjoyed the first virtual grand finale of the Postdoc Business Plan Competition last week.
GlycoVue, which combines glucose-responsive smart polymers with advanced holography and AI-enabled smartphone technology for diabetes self-management, has won the £20,000 first prize in the 2020 Postdoc Business Plan Competition.
The second prize of £10,000 went to REAVIS, which has invented low-cost head-up display technology that can be adapted for passenger cars, commercial trucks, and urban trains.
The third prize of £5,000 went to Impossible Materials, for its cellulose-based white pigments to supply to the coating industry – a possible plastics replacement.
The competition is run by Cambridge Enterprise and EPoC, and this year was sponsored by Taylor Vinters, an international law firm supporting the businesses that drive the innovation economy, and the entrepreneurs and private wealth that underpin them. ideaSpace provided the six finalists with membership, including tailored support and office space, for 12 months.
Cambridge Enterprise sponsored the first and second prizes while Cambridge Innovation Capital sponsored the third.
Gita Khalili Moghaddam, project lead at GlycoVue, said: “This was probably the best competition I have entered because of its unique learning nature.”
Each year, Cambridge Enterprise and the Entrepreneurial Postdocs of Cambridge host a business plan competition for postdocs of the University of Cambridge.
The format to the Grand Finale of the Postdoc Business Plan Competition - watch it here - is similar to that observed on The Dragon’s Den; attendees saw six finalists pitching their business ideas to a judging panel comprised of Christine Martin, deputy head of seed funds at Cambridge Enterprise; Keith Blundy, Cambridge Enterprise Investment Committee; Carol Cheung, principal at CIC; and Maximilian Ge, president of Entrepreneurial Postdocs of Cambridge (EPoC).
The online, digital audience, comprised 130-plus attendees, made up of academics, researchers, postgraduate students, University staff, business experts/mentors, the Cambridge Enterprise Investment Committee, members of the Cambridge Enterprise Venture Partner network and others closely aligned to the entrepreneurial ecosystem within Cambridge.
Prizes to be awarded include £20k ad £10k investment sponsored by Cambridge Enterprise; £5k investment sponsored by Cambridge Innovation Capital, plus one-year membership at ideaSpace for all finalists.
To enter, postdocs must submit a business plan outlining their idea. The idea does not have to be related to the postdoc’s research at the University.
The audience also heard from previous winners Tongtong Zhu, co-founder of Poro Technologies, and Simon Baker, co-founder of Versed AI. Professor Andy Neely, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Business Relations at the University, gave a speech in which he expressed being “blown away” by the quality of the pitches, the quality of the ideas, the passion of the presenters, and the potential of their innovations.
Prof Neely went on to recall the late Professor Chris Abell, the pro vice chancellor for research and a professor of biological chemistry at the University of Cambridge and Todd-Hamied fellow of Christ’s College, who passed away unexpectedly in October aged 62. Pro Neely described him as “one of the University’s most inspiring entrepreneurs” and “one of the great movers in embracing commercialisation of University research outcomes as well as acknowledging and integrating postdoctoral researchers into the University”. To honour Abell and his contributions, the competition will be named The Chris Abell Postdoc Business Plan Competition. “In doing this, we will continue to recognise his enormous contribution to science, innovation, supporting the postdoctoral community, and ultimately contributing to society.”
Neely finished by imploring all of the competition entrants to “keep going, develop your innovation, get it out to the world, make a difference to society”.
The Chris Abell Postdoc Business Plan Competition 2021 will be open for entries in May 2021.