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Department of Engineering

Postdocs’ business ideas win investment

Postdocs’ business ideas win investment

Dr Hanbin Ma during his pitch at the Postdoc Business Plan Competition grand finale.

Two engineering postdocs have won top prizes in recognition of their business ideas which were pitched at the annual Postdoc Business Plan Competition.

I’m starting to enjoy the role as an entrepreneur. Just like the slogan of the competition ‘get something started’, now I’m going to keep the ball rolling. The prize will allow me to expand my team and give me the freedom to travel to meet potential partners and investors.

Dr Hanbin Ma, first prize

Dr Hanbin Ma, Research Associate in Circuit Applications of Thin Film Transistors, was awarded first prize of £20,000 investment. This was for his active pixel liquid-handling technology that provides a modern alternative to the outdated pipette used in labs worldwide.

Dr Davor Copic, Research Associate in Nanomaterials at the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM), was awarded third prize of £5,000 investment. This was for his company Microfoam Technologies which uses nanotechnology to improve the cooling efficiency of electronic devices.

Their pitches were heard by an audience of investors, mentors, postdocs and tech transfer professionals. Questions followed from the judging panel, which this year included Anne Dobree, Head of Seed Funds at Cambridge Enterprise; Andrew Williamson, Investment Director at Cambridge Innovation Capital; Barbara Domayne-Hayman from Cambridge Enterprise’s Investment Committee; and Tom Simmons, President of the Entrepreneurial Postdocs of Cambridge (EPOC).

The winning entries were judged on a number of criteria, including the businesses’ competitive position, the potential for new business creation and the teams’ collective skill set.

Dr Ma said: “Thanks to Cambridge Enterprise and EPOC, this journey was a great experience that allowed me a taste of the real business world. The mentoring and the pitch training helped me to shape my idea into a realistic business plan.

“The judges’ and the audience’s comments have strongly encouraged me to go further, and I’m starting to enjoy the role as an entrepreneur. Just like the slogan of the competition ‘get something started’, now I’m going to keep the ball rolling. The prize will allow me to expand my team and give me the freedom to travel to meet potential partners and investors.”

The competition, run by Cambridge Enterprise and EPOC, is open to all postdocs at the University of Cambridge. It will run again in May 2018.

This article has been edited from the Cambridge Enterprise blog.

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