Three Cambridge PhD students have received the Trinity Bradfield Prize in a competition designed to foster researcher-entrepreneurs which attracted more than 80 entries.
The three winners, Simon Engelke, Saikat Subhra Ghosh and Nidhin Laji, will receive cash, expert mentoring and business growth support at the Bradfield Centre to accelerate the next stage of their journey from innovative idea to commercial application.
The £25,000 Trinity Bradfield Prize is a collaboration between Central Working which runs the Bradfield Centre at Cambridge Science Park and Trinity College. The Bradfield Centre launched in 2017 and is now home to 60 tech businesses and a thriving entrepreneurial hub.
Dramatically improved batteries, more efficient and cheaper electric cars, and greater survivability in newborns undergoing heart surgery are three outcomes the winners and their teams will pursue while at the Bradfield Centre.
The winners are:
- Simon Engelke has improved diffusion across a battery electrode, which dramatically improves the performance, charging speed, lifespan and energy efficiency of everything from smartphones to electric cars and power grids.
- Saikat Subhra Ghosh’s pole-changing machine provides better gear shifting for electric cars, improving energy efficiency and cutting costs.
- Nidhin Laji has developed a 3D modelling programme for heart surgery in newborn children, providing surgeons with a tailored map for procedures where survival depends on the accuracy of minute incisions.
Nidhin Laji is an NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Fellow based at Addenbrooke’s. He and his team have developed the software to create personalised 3D models for surgeons to correct congenital heart defects in newborn babies.
‘Receiving the award was a very welcome shock! Medical devices are notoriously difficult to commercialise – even more so for a doctor at my stage of training. The mentorship, commercial network and funding provided by prize is just the springboard we need to help bring this product into the hands of surgeons.’
Simon Engelke is a final year PhD candidate in the Departments of Engineering and Chemistry who established Diffusity in order to develop his method of improved battery diffusion and create a prototype. He said he was honoured to receive the Trinity Bradfield Prize.
‘I am excited for what lies ahead and to utilise the award and its benefits to push the battery innovation further towards commercialisation. Equity-free funding, mentorship and office space are true accelerators for an early stage start-up.’
Saikat Subhra Ghosh is a PhD candidate at the Department of Engineering who is passionate about electric and hybrid vehicles.
‘The Trinity Bradfield Prize came at the right point of the progression of my idea, from the academic research phase to a business venture. Winning has been a great confidence booster for me, on my own work as a potential for a start-up.’
The prize money will enable us to further develop some of the prototypes. Most importantly, the entrepreneurship training, the opportunity to work with established entrepreneurs at the Bradfield Centre and mentorship from scientists-entrepreneurs will give us the necessary knowledge and skills to put together an indepth business model of our venture. This will also help us to learn about marketing our technology to potential customers and provide a networking opportunity for seed funding.
The awards night at the Bradfield Centre was not just ceremonial – each shortlisted candidate had to pitch their innovation before a panel of judges, including the Master of Trinity, Sir Gregory Winter. Sir Gregory, who recently shared the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, welcomed the emerging tech talent among university researchers.
University Departments across the country are potentially hotbeds for innovation and fledgling companies, provided we can offer researchers a business-friendly environment to develop their ideas. The Trinity Bradfield Prize process has offered us a glimpse at the tech pioneers of the future and I’m excited to see how far they will go with support from the College and the Bradfield Centre.
James Parton, Managing Director of the Bradfield Centre, said new prize was a great example of the education sector and business communities joining forces to foster the next generation of researchers-turned-entrepreneurs.
‘The calibre of intellectual property innovation currently being developed in UK universities indicates that Britain will remain a driving force in global technology for years to come. When empowered to follow through on their potential, they can bring huge benefit to Britain’s tech economy and further cement our place as the focal point of global technology,’ he said.